“If you vote for my husband you get me. It’s a two-for-one blue-plate special.” So Hillary Clinton said to an American Bar Association audience when husband Bill was running for president in 1992. It’s similar but different now: Buy one Clinton and you get two: both Bill and Hillary — Billary.
Notes The Washington Post’s veteran David Broder: “She cannot function without him, and he would not have been president without her. If she becomes president, he will play as central a role in her presidency as she did in his. That is something the country will have to ponder.”
A poll-based, page-one October 4 Post story says the public has indeed pondered the prospect and found little wanting. “Bill Clinton has emerged as a clear asset in his wife’s campaign for the White House, with Americans offering high ratings to his eight years in office and a solid majority saying they would be comfortable with him as first spouse.”
And: “The former president is very much at the center of his wife’s campaign — helping to raise money, muscling endorsements, providing strategic and policy advice, and joining her on the trail.”
More and more, the situation report (sitrep) is this: A third Clinton term looks like a lock — with a growing sense of inevitability. Says Bill: “I would do anything I could to make her president.”
The other Democratic contenders, even Barack Obama, just can’t seem to get in the game. Bill Clinton, the most popular Democrat on the landscape, will appear with Hillary increasingly — the drab basking in his glamorous glow as John Warner did during his initial campaign for the Senate in 1978, attracting crowds with wife Elizabeth Taylor. Everywhere they go, Hillary and Bill receive soft-glove, fawning, royal treatment. Notes The New Republic’s Michelle Cottle: “(Hillary’s) a celebrity. She and Bill have passed some point where they’re no longer just politicians. They’re rock stars.”
Bill, who (1) degraded the presidential office with his sexual shenanigans; (2) non-responded to terror, in the years following 1993’s first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center; (3) benefited from a roaring economy with oil at $8 a barrel (as who could not?); (4) has made $40 million for speeches since leaving the White House; and (5) is violating the stricture against past presidents’ dabbling in foreign policy (e.g., Bush missile defense plans for Europe, he says, are a “colossal waste of money” and are “creating a crisis” —with Russia — “when none is necessary”).
And Hillary, who (1) brilliant as she professes to be, and having failed the D.C. bar exam, refuses to follow Bush’s and John Kerry’s examples and release her transcripts from Wellesley and Yale (at Yale, both Bush and Kerry were C-students); and (2) votes (in the 25 percent minority) against condemning the MoveOn.org ad charging Gen. David Petraeus with betrayal of his country. Yet who . . .
(3) Because of her unquestioned leftist credentials, can move right in some respects by voting to urge the U.S. to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards a foreign terrorist organization. She is too shrewd (4) (a) to commit to raising Social Security taxes in order to save the program; (b) to say whether she would pull all U.S. troops out of Iraq by 2013; or (c) to declare whether Israel has the right to bomb Iran if it poses a nuclear threat to Israel’s survival. And (5) she can straight-facedly offer a $110 billion plan to provide health insurance to all Americans, funded largely by repealing the Bush tax cuts.
So (The Post again) in Iowa on the Fourth of July Hillary campaigned arm-in-arm with Bill, embracing “the role of virtual incumbent . . . promising to restore conditions — in the economy and in the government — to the way they were during her husband’s administration.” That is: to a snarl of scandals, to the politics of personal destruction (that she now so ostentatiously deplores), and to relentlessly leftist policies and programs.
Two-thirds of Americans may approve of the job Bill Clinton did as president. In polling match-ups, Hillary beats her closest Republican rival, Rudy Giuliani, 51-43. Yet once again — as in 1992 — it’s a two-for-one deal: Buy Hillary, get Bill. As Broder says, a third (and fourth?) Clinton term “is something the country will have to ponder.” Either the country’s mind already is made up, or the electorate needs to get busy pondering — and soon — whether another “blue-plate special,” another dose of Billary, is what this country really needs.
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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