At first, I had the same reaction as Arianna Huffington to this:
What the hell was Bill Clinton thinking, inviting Laura Bush to deliver the keynote address at his latest Global Initiative conference? Talk about speeching with the enemy.
... this is not a time for Bill Clinton to be acting like a former president, floating above the political fray. This is a time for Bill Clinton to be acting like a Democratic former president. There is a world of difference between the two....
But maybe Clinton is smarter than we think. Maybe, just as the White House is deploying Laura in this election season to try to win back the soccer mom/security mom vote, Clinton is deploying himself -- and doing so in a way that makes him look like both a man of good works (at a time when the GOP wants you to think he personally knocked down the Twin Towers) and a believer in working together to solve problems (a message that might appeal to voters who always say they hate partisan wrangling and may now, finally, see Bush and the GOP as the principal source of it).
Furthermore, he may actually be blunting the GOP's Laura initiative -- when he and the First Lady pose together, the message is: You like her? Well, she likes me. They'll tell you I'm the embodiment of Democratic evil, but notice that she thinks I'm OK. She loses a little luster in the eyes of red-meat Republicans, and for everybody else she helps take the curse off the Democrats.
I don't know if this is really what he's thinking, and I don't know if the public takes it this way, but hey, he won two presidential elections deploying an upbeat affect and an opposition to rancor, so he may know what he's doing.
And, of course, he's probably practicing for the day when (if he gets his wish) he'll have Laura's job.