Late May, 2011. The Democrats had just won an upset victory in a Congressional special election in NY-26, chiefly by demonizing Ryan's proposal to reform Medicare.
Shortly afterwards, Paul Ryan bumped into Bill Clinton at a fiscal summit held by the Pete Peterson Foundation, where both were speaking. Part of the frank exchange was inadvertently caught on video.
Some of the transcript is below, but I recommend watching the 30 second clip. Clinton is wistful, knowing his side won the battle but could lose the war, while Ryan sounds a bit depressed, but defiant nevertheless:
“I’m glad we won this race in New York,” Clinton can be seen saying in the video. “But I hope Democrats don’t use it as an excuse to do nothing.”
Ryan responded: “My guess is it’s gonna sink into paralysis, is what’s gonna happen. And you know the math. I mean, It’s just — we knew we were putting ourselves out there. But you gotta start this. You gotta get out there. You gotta get this thing moving.”
Clinton told Ryan to call him if he ever wanted to talk about the issue, Ryan said he would, and the two parted.
Personally, I was surprised to hear that Bill Clinton was going to have a high-profile speaking role at the Democratic Convention this year. We know the man loves the spotlight, but I certainly thought his finely-honed political sense would prevent him from tying himself to the rapidly sinking ship that is Barack Obama.
Who knows? Perhaps there will just happen to be some dramatic event overseas that require his attention right around the same time...
(Hat tip: Toby Harden)