As dana noted earlier this week, I wrote a comment at Cogitamus wondering:

I’m not sure why nobody’s writing about how the Clintons have been, at best, neutral parties in this campaign. Their proxies and surrogates keep saying crappy things about Obama, and Senator and President Clinton haven’t been that much better. Yes, they were both great at the convention, where, had they been less than great, it would have hurt them personally. But since then, my sense is that they’ve done next to nothing useful for the Obama campaign and lots that has been, as I said above, somewhere on the spectrum between neutral and counterproductive.

The Clintons’ commitment, or lack thereof, to the Obama campaign wasn’t really the point of dana’s post. And the comment thread on that post ended up going in several screwy directions as people, including me, mashed up a number of different ideas. Given that, I’d like to revisit the issue laid out in my comment above.

First, in the wake of President Clinton’s and Chris Rock’s appearance on Letterman, and now that Pres. Clinton has followed up that performance by suggesting that we should all take at face value Sen. McCain’s claim that he’s suspending his campaign for patriotic reasons, people are writing about this issue (here, here, here, and here). Second, I now agree with Scott Lemieux that Sen. Clinton has, on balance, been much more supportive of Sen. Obama than has Pres. Clinton. I’m not sure the difference is as clear as Lemieux suggests. But certainly my statement above cast the two Clintons as walking in lockstep. And that was a mistake on my part.

Moving on to third — this is getting to be a long list; sorry — because they’ve spent most of their adult lives trying to win elections, it’s unsurprising to me that the Clintons, who, you might recall, lost a pretty rough primary to Sen. Obama, would have a hard time sublimating their hunger for victory to the needs of the Obama campaign. Fourth, I have no idea if Sen. Clinton plans to run again in 2012 if John McCain wins this election. Despite what you may have heard, I’m not a member of the Clintons’ inner circle. Fifth and finally, I stand by my statement that Pres. Clinton especially, and, in some instances, Sen. Clinton as well, are conflicted about Sen. Obama’s candidacy, and that Pres. Clinton is doing everything he can to have it both ways: appearing to work for Obama while subtly undermining him.