It’s not until some 1,300 words in to Peter Baker’s several-thousand-word profile of Bill Clinton in this coming Sunday’s New York Times Magazine that readers encounter the first anonymous quote:
Unless Obama messes up, says a former top Clinton aide, “President Clinton is irrelevant.” Obama does not need him. “This is not a circumstance in which Bill Clinton is going to have much of a role,” the aide says.
1,300 words in: not bad, for a piece about Clinton. From then on, there are plenty (“two officials,” “campaign veterans,” an “adviser to Hillary Clinton,” “people close to Clinton,” “a senior Clinton White House official,” “former advisers.”)
What’s the gist of the piece? Baker traveled the globe recently with President Clinton and observed that it was lot like when he, as a White House correspondent, went on the road with First Lady Hillary Clinton (a “courtesy stop at a palace for a brief meeting with the head of state,” with the trips “built around round-table discussions or visits to far-off villages to explore how people confronted the challenges of their world.”) Bill Clinton is settling — “mellowing” —in to his current, never-before-attempted role of “former president and cabinet spouse.” And (emphasis mine):
So far, the former president has avoided causing trouble for the new one. Before Hillary Clinton was picked for secretary of state, some Obama advisers were wary of bringing a freelancing Bill Clinton inside the tent. But to their surprise, Clinton has done nothing to complicate Obama’s life so far.
And, moments of potential interest for media watchers:
In his view, the news media and the political world held [Hillary] to a different standard, while practically anointing Obama. And when he says her, he also means, in the back of his mind, himself.
The man who ushered in the Internet age still does not use a computer, much less a BlackBerry, but keeps up with blogs and sites like The Huffington Post through clips printed out by aides.Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.