Hey, don’t blame me:
Hillary Clinton’s return to the living was almost flawless. Almost.
She unveiled her Twitter account (young and with-it), and referred knowingly to the pantsuit (mature and self-aware). She didn’t look tan (that would be too “Real Housewives of New Jersey”) but seemed rested (that’s what almost six months of downtime will do for you) and ready (returning to her animating issues of girls and early childhood through her Too Small to Fail initiative). She picked a rocking photo (dark shades, in the bulkhead seat of her secretary of state airplane, thumbing her BlackBerry).
“Young and with it… rocking photo.” Yeah, she’s practically groovy. Nothing’s more young and with it, more rocking, than a clunky brooch.
But as big a fan as Margaret Carlson is, she does find fault with the sexy sexagenarian (65 to be exact). No, not BENGHAZI, which fatal snafu warrants not even a mention. The other B: Bill.
Her re-emergence had just one flaw. She didn’t keep her dog on the porch, a mistake so serious it could be disqualifying. She, of all people, knows how good Bill Clinton can be, and how bad. So why did she choose to revive her brand during the weeklong annual celebration of his Global Initiative, surrounded by his cast and on his turf?
It was inevitable that Bill Clinton was going to be heady with all the attention last week, and thus bound to make his own headlines. One of the former president’s weaknesses is to love the one he’s with. He got carried away: Appearing at an event with his wife’s nemesis, Senator John McCain of Arizona, the former president volunteered that President Barack Obama looked like a “wuss” and a “fool,” and was being “lame” with his inaction on Syria.
Clearly, before returning to prime time, Hillary Clinton needs not only to manage expectations but also to show she can manage her husband, a manipulation that makes dealing with Vladimir Putin look easy by comparison. On balance, Bill Clinton has been very good for Hillary. Sexist though it may be to say, he did bring her to the party. She might have become governor of Arkansas and president in a fairer world, but fair politics is not.
Why would she have been governor of Arkansas? She never would have set foot in that God-forsaken state (in her view) were it not for Bill. She never won office (or even ran for one) until after gaining fame standing by her man. Politically, she was born on third base (US Senator from New York, followed by US Secretary of State); what’s unfair about that?
But did you know that Bill called Barack lame? A wuss and a fool? He didn’t, exactly, but he sure did:
Clinton said a president must look beyond public and congressional reluctance to military intervention for the sake of national security and to save lives.
“You just think how lame you’d be … suppose I had let a million people, two million people be refugees out of Kosovo, a couple hundred thousand people die, and they say, ‘You could have stopped this by dropping a few bombs. Why didn’t you do it?’ And I say, ‘because the House of Representatives voted 75 percent against it?’” Clinton said. “You look like a total wuss, and you would be.”
Responding to a question from McCain about how he views Obama’s Syria policy, Clinton said that any president who avoids a military intervention in order to satisfy short-term political objectives would come to regret it in the end.
“If you refuse to act and you cause a calamity, the one thing you cannot say when all the eggs have been broken is, ‘Oh my god, two years ago there was a poll that said 80 percent of you were against it.’ You look like a total fool,” Clinton said.
We don’t have to rehash 2008, PUMA, and all that stuff—much as we’d like to. Let Bill Clinton do it for us.
But Hillary ’16? Seriously?
Bill Clinton didn’t help her become president in 2008, and he won’t be much help in 2016, except as a warm, supportive presence who, in our imagination, will inhabit the East Wing as a benign elder statesman, giving gentle advice only when prodded.
Alas, there’s no sign he would go along with the script, and any ad-libbing would hurt. We elect one person, not two, Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton’s high White House profiles notwithstanding. Bill Clinton is now beloved — achieving a comeback no one thought possible. If he meddles in his wife’s 2016 campaign the way he did in 2008, he could lose his hard-won halo. If she lets him meddle, she will go down with him.
He will always loom. What didn’t drive them apart made their marriage stronger. But one thing he hasn’t learned is how to stand by his woman without standing in her way, blocking our view.
So thank you, Bill, for all you’ve done. Now for all womankind, and for the sake of the TBD at the end of Hillary’s Twitter profile, could you go where no man has gone before, except perhaps Denis Thatcher, and take one step back and to the side?
She can’t do this with you.
Their marriage is “stronger”? Oh, brother. Carlson imagines a Hillary that never was and asks “why not?” We look at a Hillary that really was and ask “why Chris, why Sean, why Glen, why Tyrone?”