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What To Make Of Bill Clinton?

I can't entirely put my finger on it, but I've gotten a strange vibe from the Bill Clinton we've seen over the last few weeks. Beginning with that ill-considered swift-boat discussion after Hillary's lousy debate performance in Philadelphia, continuing through his presence in various campaign-disarray stories last week, and culminating with his Charlie Rose interview on Friday and today's Patrick Healey story in the Times, the impression I get is this: The former president is more concerned with demonstrating his loyalty to Hillary than with getting her elected president. Often the two imperatives overlap, in which case there's no problem. But sometimes they don't, in which case Bill seems to put the loyalty imperative above the getting-elected imperative. It's as if he's thinking: Well, she may or may not win. But, by the end of this, she's going to know I'm her most fearless, dogged defender. (Or even: If showing that I'm her most dogged defender hurts her presidential prospects, then so be it.)

--Noam Scheiber