Former President Bill Clinton was on his best behavior during a campaign rally for his wife and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday in Tempe.
After earlier making a series of remarks considered hostile toward fellow Democratic candidate Barack Obama in previous weeks, he barely mentioned Obama at Arizona State University.
And when Bill Clinton did mention Obama, either by name or inference, he had only positive things to say.
He started his one-hour speech by recapping the televised Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton and Obama, broadcast when everyone at the rally was standing in line waiting to get in.
Bill Clinton reported they had a "civilized" discussion about the issues. He said, "They told some of the people in this country who have been using their positions to try to divide the Democrats that we are going to be united in November."
Perhaps Bill Clinton was referring to himself as one of "those people."
At the end of his speech, he sort of mentioned Obama again.
"Do I think it will be a great thing when we have our first woman president? Of course, I do," he said. "I have to tell you, I think it will be a great thing when we have our first African-American president, our first Hispanic president, our first Asian-American, our first Native-American president, our first Arab-American president, our first Jewish president, our first Muslim president, our first you-name-it president. America is not about categories. America is about ideas and all of us ought to be part of a common humanity," he said.
A couple of other observations ...
Bill Clinton's speech was similar to Hillary Clinton's the week before in Laveen.
They both covered health care, energy, global warming, education and foreign policy. They both asked members of the audience to raise their hands if they knew someone without health insurance. They both talked up Al Gore. They even told the same anecdote about an injured Iraq war veteran Hillary Clinton met.
There were a couple of important differences though.
Hillary Clinton moved through her version of her stump speech in 37 minutes. Bill Clinton labored through his version in one hour, three minutes.
And while I didn't count, it seemed like Hillary Clinton drew far more laughs than the ex-president managed. She also seemed to get more buy-in from the crowd.
Hillary Clinton gave a rally speech. Bill Clinton gave a policy wonk lecture.
Whoever thought that Hillary Clinton could ever supersede Bill Clinton in that department?
It was difficult to determine how serious the former president was being when he described the difficulties associated with leaving the presidency.
"I mean, they played a song every time you walked into a room - 'Hail to the Chief.' Honestly, I was lost for three weeks after I left the White House. No one played the song any more. I had no idea where I was," Clinton said during his rally in Tempe.
"Washington is super congested, but the president never waits in traffic. You just move along in a bulletproof limo. You have no commute to work in the world's most beautiful, famous office. You live in America's finest public housing," he said.
Perhaps it is a rough adjustment. Then again, private citizen Clinton's motorcade seemed to glide right through the congestion outside ASU's Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium before and after the rally.
FLAKE VS. PELOSI
Rep. Jeff Flake. R-Ariz., savaged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with a short news release "Speaker Pelosi on earmarks" on Thursday
Keep in mind that just two weeks ago, Flake was angling for an appointment to the House Appropriations Committee, the committee that oversees earmarks.
Flake's news release stated:
"'I myself am personally not a supporter of earmarks.' - Speaker Nancy Pelosi, January 28, 2008 in a conference call with reporters.
"'Whew, good thing! I can't imagine what this list would look like if Speaker Pelosi actually supported earmarks.' - Congressman Jeff Flake."
The news release then featured a "partial list" of 34 earmarks Pelosi has requested for fiscal 2008.
The inventory included $11.7 million for a light-rail project, $9.3 million for a shipyard and $4 million for a neuroscience center, all in San Francisco; plus 16 other projects of at least $1 million each. The list did not include earmarks Pelosi had co-sponsored with other lawmakers.
The House speaker had not reacted to Flake's missive by the close of business Friday, said Flake spokesman Matthew Specht.
It's unclear what affect Flake's decision to publicly shame Pelosi will have on his possible appointment to the appropriations committee. The decision about whether to give him a seat will be made by members of the Republican Steering Committee, which obviously doesn't answer to Pelosi.
Kyl's fiscal courage
National Review Online columnist Larry Kudlow singled out Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., for his "uncommon fiscal courage" on Wednesday for his stand against the tax rebate package.
Kudlow wrote, "Kyl is a principled conservative man, taking a principled conservative position. Even though he's the Senate Republican whip - the No. 2 man in the caucus - he is going against the tide and standing up for supply-side principles."
Kyl and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are pursuing a better approach to grow the economy by proposing cuts to the corporate tax rate, which Kudlow argued, would help create healthy businesses, create jobs and raise real wages.
"The minute such a bill is signed - the very minute - the incentive effects would take place," Kudlow wrote. "Jon Kyl is the strongest conservative thinker in the Senate. He is principled. He is unwavering."