Conflicted President, Undefined Presidency

Conflicted President, Undefined Presidency

In the midst of last year’s New York primary, Bill Clinton brought his stump speech to Wall Street. The Street was not impressed. “The problem with the past twelve years,” Clinton told a noontime rally in the financial district, “is that Wall Street’s gone up, and up, and up—the market’s tripled in value over the last twelve year—while Main Street hasn’t gone anywhere at all.”

At which point, the crowd began to boo.

Let’s freeze the frame right here, before Clinton has had a chance to respond, and consider his options. He has just upbraided the American speculator—as politically vulnerable a target as a Democrat could ever hope to affront. Being booed by this crowd only reinforces his populist bona fides; indeed, the press begins to wonder if this may be a calculated insult, like his attack on Sister Souljah and Jesse Jackson earlier in the year.