Shortly after the Huffington Post published Clinton's little lecture, his spokesman issued the following backtrack: "President Clinton was understandably upset about an outrageously unfair article, but the language today was inappropriate and he wishes he had not used it." Lame. He didn't say anything racist, politically incorrect, or untrue. Of course he thinks the media favors Obama, and he can say that. Hillary has several times. And of course he thinks Purdum is a scumbag. So would anyone else if someone wrote a nasty article about him or her. Yeah, it's not distinguished behavior for an elder statesman, but we like our presidents tough, remember? We say, You go, Bubba. Rock on with your red-faced self.
If you click above, you can hear Bill Clinton's rant against Vanity Fair scribe Todd Purdum, during which he calls him "sleazy," "dishonest," "slimy," and a "scumbag" for writing the attack piece in this month's issue. In response, the media has labeled Clinton's response as "invective," "very bad words," and "lashing out." Those all may be true descriptions for the content of his tirade. But what about "understandable anger"? "Personal attack for personal attack"? "Verbal ass-kicking"? Purdum's article was full of rumor and innuendo, and it was ruthless with regard to Clinton's post-presidency behavior. Even if every bit of it is true, Bubba has the right to get angry. And a lengthy memo written by someone else, his camp's first tactic, was just an unsatisfying way to deal with it. Bill Clinton is a fighter, and, for him, his wife's entire campaign has been an exercise in bottling up those instincts (with middling success). Of course he mouthed off. Purdum's story implied that Clinton is sleazy. Is it any surprise Clinton shot the accusation right back?