Anthropologist Margaret Mead, a popular professor during my years at Yale in the late 1960’s, frequently challenged students with her famous formulation that “the biggest problem for any society is to try to decide what on earth to do with its men.”
Biology dictates a clear, crucial and inevitable role for women, focusing their energies on childbearing and raising the next generation. For males, however, culture must come up with some arbitrary, artificial but carefully constructed assignment to channel their considerable energies into constructive efforts.
Along the same lines, the biggest problem for the current Hillary-for-President juggernaut is trying to decide what on earth to do with Bill.
The campaign itself dictates a clear, crucial and inevitable role for the candidate herself, but for her peripatetic husband the cunning strategists must come up with some arbitrary, artificial but carefully constructed assignment to channel his considerable energies into constructive efforts.
Unless Senator Clinton and her handlers manage some deft solution to their on-going Bill dilemma (can we call it a Bill-emma?) the former First Lady easily could fail in her drive for the White House. Though many pundits and prognosticators talked about the formidable obstacles confronting her campaign (her unhesitating vote to authorize the Iraq war, her stiff and off-putting public demeanor, her reputation as a shrill liberal ideologue) they generally refused to focus on the obvious, unavoidable problem presented by her husband. In general, Americans know far more about her troubled marriage than they do about her positions on energy independence or the Iranian nuclear threat. They also like Bill (for all his faults) far more than they like her: he remains a phenomenally engaging, fascinating and beloved public figure, while respondents in national surveys give her the highest negative ratings of any major candidate for 2008.
In planning their relentless, unstoppable drive to the White House, Hillary’s lieutenants face six basic strategies for dealing with their Bill-emma, ranging from the conventional to the fanciful to the unthinkable (but we’ll think about it anyway).
Those options are:
Option 1: Ask Him to Accompany Her on Major Campaign Trips Like a Loving, Dutiful Spouse.
For several reasons, this won’t work.
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