September 19, 2005

A Broken Tradition

"Breaking with tradition under which US presidents mute criticisms of their successors," says an AFP dispatch, Clinton attacks Bush.

Has there ever been a less rigorously-observed tradition? Jimmy Carter has also slammed George W. Bush. Carter and Gerald Ford signed onto a New York Times op-ed in December of 1998 that called for the censure of Clinton, saying "impeachment by the full House has already brought profound disgrace to President Clinton." (In context, this was of course a case for preserving Clinton's presidency, but it was a criticism nonetheless.) George H.W. Bush said a month later that "I must confess I have been deeply concerned by what appears to be a lack of respect for the office I was so very proud to hold."

This isn't a completely new development; Teddy Roosevelt-- "behaving rather like an anti-Carter," as Lee Harris put it-- publicly criticized Woodrow Wilson for not going to war immediately after the sinking of the Lusitania. But now we've hit a milestone: Every living former president has now criticized at least one of his successors.

Posted by John Tabin at September 19, 2005 07:44 PM

if clinton takes heat for this, should be noted that frist also broke with tradition in trying to unseat Daschle...from NPR.

"In the heat of last year's blistering Senate campaign in South Dakota, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee came to Rapid City to help Republican candidate John Thune.

It was a precedent-breaking visit, because the Democrat in that race was Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, and by Senate tradition the party leaders do not campaign against each other's re-election in their respective home states."

Posted by: wg at September 23, 2005 12:52 PM

There is a bit of a difference wq; Daschle essentially stole the leadership role by bribing Jim Jeffords into leaving the Republicans. One could argue that he did not really have the right to expect the Republicans to back off, since he himself fired the first shot.

Posted by: Tim Birdnow at September 23, 2005 07:07 PM