Hillary Clinton doesn't have the luxury Al Gore did of choosing to dump Bill Clinton on the presidential campaign trail. She's stuck with him, for better or for worse. And if she becomes president, so is America.
People always questioned Gore's judgment to cut his umbilical cord from Mother Bill, some saying he had to do it to free himself of the taint of the scandals and others saying the move cost him the election because he was unable to capitalize as much on the Clinton economic record.
There's doubtlessly merit to both arguments, and Gore was probably hurt some and helped some by the decision. Ultimately, though, voters surely were and are smart enough to evaluate the candidate on his own merits, regardless of the strength of his ties to his predecessor.
But in Hillary's case, it's obviously more complicated. Bill will not just have been a past president with very close ties to President Hillary, should she win. He won't merely be with her in the White House. He will be in her space.
Think about it. Right now, Hillary is probably conflicted about Bill's role in the campaign. She's obviously aware of a certain segment of the public's adulation for the man -- mystifying though it is -- but equally aware of another segment's visceral (and cerebral) revulsion.
But that's the pragmatic aspect. She has to be experiencing personal conflict as well. No matter how much she might deny it or project it onto opponent Barack Obama, this is a lady who has aspired to high office since before the flood.
I'll admit that part of her motivation to be president might be to implement her long-held vision for America: socialism, more or less. But self-fulfillment, achievement and power have to be equal or greater motivators.
As to these latter motivators, consider her dilemma. She desperately seeks self-respect and self-actualization, but fears she can't get it -- nor could she have ever been in a position to get it -- apart from the eventuality of Bill hanging around her neck like an albatross.
It would be bad enough if only cynical sexists accused her of glomming on to Bill for power. But there will be no Hillary presidency apart from Bill. He can't stay out of her business. He can't stand it if someone else has center stage, especially his wife, who he will have put in office.
Hillary promotes the myth that she shared a co-presidency with Bill, but her role has been greatly exaggerated. He didn't need her except to handle bimbo eruptions, feign surprise at his infidelity and stand by her man in the face of impeachment by "the vast right wing conspiracy." But I bet he only allowed her in on policy decisions, like health care, to pacify her.
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