Bill Clinton surprised a Syracuse University audience on Mother's Day. The controversial former president delivered a commencement address devoid of controversy or partisan politics. And at a time other Democrats-including his wife-are attacking the White House on everything from tax cuts to judicial nominees, Mr. Clinton actually praised his Republican successor for his AIDS initiative.
Why such an apolitical speech from such a political ex-president? Politics, perhaps. Located in the heart of upstate New York, Syracuse is a Republican stronghold, where the current president is popular and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is not. Statewide, only 47 percent of New Yorkers say Hillary is doing an excellent or good job, according to a Zogby poll in April. Upstate-in places like Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany-a whopping 60 percent say Hillary is doing a lousy job.