Clinton on Tuesday kicked off a six-day national stumping tour apparently organized around the directive "do no harm." The itinerary was carefully planned to meet the specs of Gore staffers, who worry about Clinton inadvertently boosting Republican turnout at the mere sight of him (and, one suspects, making Gore's oratory and stature look that much less inspiring by comparison). The result is that Clinton will appear in no state in which he can actually affect the outcome for Gore or Bush.
That means no Florida, which Clinton won in 1996, and no battleground states (though a visit to Michigan is on the "possible" list, for reasons illogical). Clinton started Tuesday in Bush-safe Kentucky, on behalf of congressional hopeful Eleanor Jordan, and will spend two days in California where, barring a Bush landslide, Gore is expected to win in a get-out-the-vote drive requested by Gov. Gray Davis.
Most of the time will be spent in New York, where a certain other candidate running on the Clinton years has gotten over her fears of a certain naughty husband's political impact. Mr. Clinton will spend days in Manhattan and its boroughs (but not venture too far upstate, where Mrs. Clinton needs as light a tread as possible).
Clinton, of course, has been visibly chafing under restrictions like these for a while. (Another possible reason for that spread-legged Esquire cover pose.) And it's gotta hurt him to be hidden in the hustings while George W. Bush (whose father will be proudly trotted out in the campaign's last days) has somehow turned a smart, successful prosperity veep into Richard Nixon in 1960.
Clinton should cheer up. Nixon lost in a close one. But everybody still likes Ike.