A certain kind of person might be waiting for the Clintons—Hillary in particular—to burst back onto the political scene to help the Democrats win across the country in November’s midterms. But for a host of reasons, the Clintons have been largely absent, with a Monday report from The New York Times further suggesting that Democrats fear Bill Clinton’s involvement most of all.
Chief among the reasons Bill Clinton has been sidelined, according to the Times, is the renewed scrutiny of his past mistreatment of women—claims that, although largely forgiven among members of his own party, are being examined in a harsher light in the #MeToo era.
Friends of the couple also told the paper that the former president remains “passionately angry about 2016, often railing against targets like Senator Bernie Sanders and ranting about Russia, raising concerns about his ability to stay on message.”
This is probably smart. In moments where Clinton was directly challenged by activists on the campaign trail—like Black Lives Matter protesters in Philadelphia—he handled them poorly, drowning out their chants and then later minimizing their very valid concerns. One can only imagine how Clinton would handle a crop of protesters focused on past ills that hit even closer to home.
Now, Democratic candidates have been forced into an awkward stance when Clinton has reached out to offer his help:
During the special election for Senate in Alabama in December, Doug Jones, the Democrat who won the race, considered enlisting Mr. Clinton’s help before abandoning the idea as too risky.
When Mr. Clinton offered to campaign for Ralph Northam, now the governor of Virginia, Mr. Northam’s camp responded cautiously. Rather than headlining a public event, Mr. Clinton was urged to attend a fund-raiser already scheduled in the Washington area — a suggestion that offended the former president, according to people briefed on the awkward exchange. The Northam and Clinton camps discussed a church visit in October but failed to agree on a date.
The Times also reports that Hillary Clinton will endorse longtime political ally Governor Andrew Cuomo in his re-election bid at a state party convention in Long Island this week—marking her first major public contribution to the 2018 cycle. It’s tremendously unsurprising that Clinton, an emblem of the party establishment, would endorse her loyal friend over his left wing challenger, Cynthia Nixon. She is nothing if not reliable in her cronyism. But the sooner the Clintons’ lingering reign over party holdouts ends, the better.