As Clinton goes to bat for Obama, he can burnish the positive memories of his eight years in office, during the go-go ‘90s. Over time, public assessments of ex-presidents tend to improve, and Clinton is no exception. In March 2011, the Pew Research Center found 67 percent of the public held an overall opinion of Clinton that was either “very favorable” or “mostly favorable,” up from 46 percent in December 2002, almost two years after he left office.
Opinion on Clinton while he was president was sharply polarized, but in retrospect, many Americans recall that period as one of peace and prosperity. The unpleasant memories of the Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment have faded. And as an elder statesman, Clinton can adopt an air of sagacity as he cautions voters not to be impatient with the slow economic recovery.
“If you go back 500 years, whenever a country's financial system collapses, it takes between 5 and 10 years to get back to full employment,” Clinton told the donors in Terry McAuliffe’s backyard April 29. “If you go back for the last 200 years, when buildings had been widely owned by individuals and companies, if there's a mortgage collapse it almost always takes 10 years. He's beating the clock, not behind it. Don't listen to those Republicans. We are beating the clock.”