Bill Clinton boasted in his first campaign for president that voters could "buy one and get one free." He should have kept quiet about Hillary. A lot of Americans have never let either Bill or Hillary forget it. An unelected co-president was not what anyone bargained for (and neither did the founding fathers who wrote the Constitution). Now we have another opportunity to "buy one and get one free."
When Wolf Blitzer of CNN, the moderator, asked her the other night in the Democratic debate what her husband would do if she makes it to the White House, she replied that he "will be sent around the world as a roving ambassador." One of her rivals, former Sen. Mike Gravel, piped up: "He could take his wife with him, who will still be in the Senate."
Clever repartee, but it underscores a problem that will bedevil Hillary through the brutal primaries and all the way to Denver and the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and beyond. Bill is enormously popular with a lot of Democrats, but even the ex-president's fervent admirers have to wonder what this co-presidency would look like. Every wife has horror stories about having a husband forever underfoot, cluttering the house and interfering with the woman's work that is never done. Double, triple, quadruple that for a woman presiding at the White House. Who can doubt that sending Bill somewhere on the other side of the world is exactly where Hillary would want him?
Like it or not -- and what woman does? -- Hillary is still "the first woman candidate," something more than a "wife of" but required to confront the questions none of her rivals have to answer. The New Hampshire debate was hardly over before the speculation began about what one commentator called Hillary's "flawless, almost dewy appearance," and whether this was the work of Botox, fillers, microdermabrasion or just a good make-up artist. "I'm no fan of Hillary's, heaven knows," observed columnist Margery Eagan in the Boston Herald, "but we must face facts here. She never sounded so good nor looked so good -- not easy when you're standing next to Breck Boy John Edwards, he of the $400 haircut and the primping video on YouTube."