Rachel Maddow brought her viewers some very interesting video yesterday: stolen audio of a conversation between Bill Clinton and Paul Ryan, backstage at an event somewhere, on the subject of Medicare. Ryan was in the process of having his knuckles rapped by voters in NY-26, the special election that saw a longtime Conservative seat handed to a pro-Medicare Democrat, as opposed to the GOPer who supported the Ryan budget. But what’s fascinating here is the way that Clinton does what Clinton does: he triangulates his way though the brief conversation, making it clear that he’s happy to help Ryan behind the scenes, and that in fact he shares his outlook in some vague, overriding way.
Is this Clinton simply trying to connect privately, and saying things he would never want revealed publicly? Or is it a window into DLC-style Democratic dealmaking, that cozy world where corporate Democrats and Republicans keep the money flowing to the Right Sort of People? Or more likely both, depressing as that may sound?
But not to worry. Clinton will be on the stump in 2012, and he’ll be flaying Paul Ryan within an inch of his life as publicly as he’s humanly able. Will that be horribly hypocritical? Yes, it will. But predictable. Because when you strip it all away, the guy, as Jesse Jackson once noted, has not much in the way of principles — “only an appetite.”