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The Perfect Job for Bill

Wanted: new chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Must be a big thinker--and inspiring.

November 05, 2004

Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe did a lot of things for his party. He raised tons of money -- there was an unprecedented $70 million nestled in party coffers for the election. He built a fancy new party headquarters with the latest electronics and television studios.

He just can't win elections.

McAuliffe got the job in 2001, and Democrats lost control of the Senate in the 2002 midterm elections, as well as seeing their numbers in the House fall. There were calls then from grass-roots and elected leaders for McAuliffe's head. He survived on the strength of his legendary fund-raising ability. McAuliffe's term lasts only a few more months, but he should be preparing his statement right now about wanting to spend more time with his family.

Though the Democrats may be financially flush, they need a salesman with a soul.

How about a slightly raffish, smooth-talking Southerner, a statesman with a strategic mind who delights in outsmarting his opponents? Someone who can go into a black church and rouse the congregation. Someone with a proven track record, an astute political analyst admired for his ability to split political differences and make it sound like a good thing.

That narrows it down to the last Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win two terms: Bill Clinton.

Party chairman is certainly not something other ex-presidents considered doing. Gerald Ford joined corporate boards. Jimmy Carter became -- or tried to become -- a world peacemaker. But think about it. Preserving a vigorous two-party system has its charitable, statesmanlike and selfless side.

Clinton could make a virtue of his penchant for incessant strategizing and late-night gab sessions. He could hire a co-chair to do the grind of planning the fundraising and keeping up party discipline. Let Clinton be the big thinker and inspirer in chief. Even at half speed after his heart surgery, he probably gained Sen. John F. Kerry at least a point in the election.

Clinton has become the main link to a successful past in a Democratic Party whose future could hardly look bleaker.

He can't be having all that much fun delivering $100,000 speeches, backing charities and wondering whether his wife will run for president.

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