Where is Gerald Ford? Does anyone actually know the answer to this question? While it does not beg for any specific answer, a blank response would suffice rather nicely.
The former president who ascended into the White House after the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974 and departed after his election loss to Jimmy Carter two years later has had a relatively quiet retirement from the public sector, as one would expect.
Quite the same can be said for his successors, including Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. It is of little surprise that this tradition ended with Bill Clinton.
Clinton has abruptly ended the tradition of former presidents staying out of the limelight, and he has become one of the most vocal and public opponents of George W. Bush in recent months.
His positions on issues from the ongoing war on terror to the current economic policy have all have drawn fire from the 42nd president.
Attempts to remain in the spotlight for as long as the bulb will burn, however, should have been extinguished the day he left office.
While the final chapters of most presidents’ memoirs are filled with countless stories of horseback riding, fishing and golf outings, Clinton’s version is turning into something akin to a Hollywood movie script.
Though he has transitioned himself away from the presidency and into the role of a senator’s husband, he somehow still finds time to lead the Democratic Party across the bridge he built toward the 21st century.
In the months since his move from the White House, Clinton has remained on the radar screen fulfilling a host of different roles.
From his most recent campaign trips with the soon to be former California governor Gray Davis, to dozens of television and op-ed appearances, it’s almost as if he had never left office in the first place.
One of his more vocal and public displays was in a series of debates with former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole on 60 Minutes.
While the two are obviously known for their political rivalry, Clinton should have rescinded the offer and remained relatively inactive out of respect for the current president.
While in no way am I calling for a limit on the free-speech rights of former presidents, the images of Clinton boisterously assaulting Bush on national television clearly violates the sanctity and prestige of the office he once held.
If each president publicly criticized his successor, what trust or honor does this instill within the system? The notion of silent support from these men has allowed our new leaders to assume their roles with some sort of relative ease.
No president should be subjected to second-guessing from a man who just held the office under the same pressures and anxieties.
Clinton should, for once, take a page from his predecessors and learn to deal with the change that occurs after their tenure has ended. He needs to realize the country has long since moved on from his politics and leadership style, and no longer desires his two-bit commentary on every issue.
Maybe his time and energy would be better served working on those much-anticipated memoirs, instead of harassing President Bush.
Brian Reimels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.