May 23, 2006

When Hillary runs for President, we'll have to talk endlessly about her relationship with Bill...

So why wait? The NYT throws a big, front-page article at us:
[Bill Clinton] has told friends that his No. 1 priority is not to cause her any trouble. They appear in the public spotlight methodically and carefully: The goal is to position Mrs. Clinton to run for president not as a partner or a proxy, but as her own person....

Since the start of 2005, the Clintons have been together about 14 days a month on average...

Rarely, however, do the Clintons appear in public when they are together. That is largely driven by their careers, but it is also partly by choice.
It's a long article, but there isn't much meat in it, presumably because the Clintons have a strategy and are implementing it. Much of the article is speculation about what people will think once the presidential campaign gets started. How will what we already know and think of their relationship affect our assessment of her as a candidate?

Right now, we're in a long period of thinking about her without noticing him. That is, their strategy has been working. But at some point, when we concentrate on the campaign, the image of Bill Clinton back in the White House will become quite real. Do we have a problem with that? We've never had a woman President, but we've also never had a former President, who is disqualified from running for President again, back in the White House, in some quasi-President capacity that we can't quite know.

Remember that Bill once said that in voting for him for President, we'd also get Hillary for President, "two for the price of one." We will be getting the two-fer back, but they don't want you to think about it.

Interestingly, the NYT does.

UPDATE: Slate's Jack Shafer tries to read the NYT's "own private code."
Healy could directly ask, "Is Bill cheating?" Instead, he writes a donut around the subject...

Healy writes, "Nights out find [Bill] zipping around Los Angeles with his bachelor buddy, Ronald W. Burkle, or hitting parties and fund-raisers in Manhattan." Given the context, what literate person won't make a connection between "zipping" and "zipless," especially when the person with whom Clinton is zipping is a billionaire bachelor buddy?...

[W]hy make any fuss about Bill not being at Hillary's side? Few members of Congress appear in public with their spouses, except during campaigns, and even then many campaign alone. Unless, of course, the Times intends a secret message with this piece: They spend lots of time together, he keeps a tactful distance from her career by mutual agreement, and he cheats.
Shafer concludes that the Times has sources who say Bill is cheating and that there's no other reason to write an article like this.

41 comments:

Andrew Foland said...

As I recall, a poll early in the current President's tenure showed most Americans were reassured that he had a father he could turn to for advice.

I guess now we now think that that experiment didn't work out so well?

Pogo said...

Bill responds to cameras like puppies do when their owner returns home. Will he be able to restrain this instinct in her interest? Will he be given some new brightly colored ball to chew, say, a series of healthcare town meetings perhaps, to distract him?

Have people had enough of the Dynasty approach? Or will shoulder pads, cheesy overacting, and loud hairdos make a comeback?

John(classic) said...

"Many of those interviewed were granted anonymity to discuss a relationship for which the Clintons have long sought a zone of privacy."

What does that mean? Fear of Clinton retaliation?

Jacques Cuze said...

Ooh! Always a happy day at the Althouse blog when you can reprint the talking points about Hillary!

You are absolutely shameless.

MadisonMan said...

I wish this story had more context. How often are other married couples together when both have high-powered, divergent careers? Surely the New York Times is aware of at least one or two such marriages.

It does read like they have put their past issues behind, and I'm happy for them about that if it's true.

Simon said...

"Remember that Bill once said that in voting for him for President, we'd also get Hillary for President, "two for the price of one." We will be getting the two-fer back, but they don't want you to think about it."

Well, it recalls the old joke of the married man: what's mine is hers and what's hers is...Hers. When Bill ran, you got Bill with Hillary; when Hillary runs, you get...Hillary.

Sloanasaurus said...

You also have the dynasty problem with the Clintons. Americans tend to dislike dynasties. After Bush I and II, who is going to be ready for Clinton II. We have had 20 years of Bush-Clinton, who will be ready for more? It's time to put Bush Clinton into history.

Besides, Hillary is such a nasty polarizing figure, who wants to go through another 4-8 years of bitter partisanship. We got that with Clinton-Bush. While I would prefer another good conservative in office, having a McCain or Guilani as President would be kind of a relief. It would be fun for once to listen to the two extremes squak together(which is what they are doing on the immigration bill).

Bissage said...
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SteveR said...

I see Bill and Hillary as always having a political strategy to every step they take. (Chelsea excluded, I give them credit for a job well done, and its not a small point in their favor). I agree with Simon, you're going to get a full Hillary presidency notwithstanding her triangulating politics. Does anybody really doubt where she stands?

Simon said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Please don't cut and paste long things here -- and any cutting and pasting that you do put here must also have a link to the source. Brief quotes and paraphrasing are appropriate. I'll delete comments that don't comply.

Keep your comments substantive. Personal remarks about other commenters are not helpful and risk deletion.

Jacques Cuze said...
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Simon said...

Comment edited because the post it was responding to was deleted.

Jacques Cuze said...
"How will what we already know and think of their relationship affect our assessment of her as a candidate? Thrice-married former Speaker of the House New Gingrich also concerns Republicans as he gears up for a potential presidential run."

The comment about Newt is fair. I think Newt has positive contributions to make, I like what he has to say, but I don't know that he can ever be President for precisely the reasons in the article quoted. You can't run as a family values Republican, and extol the sanctity of marriage, when you've done the things Newt has.

I can see him in a Cheney-like VP role - or possibly as a Senior Counsellor to the President, something of that nature. And it sucks, because in so, so many ways, he is exactly what I want in a President. But like Clinton, he just seems to have problems with self-discipline.

Jacques Cuze said...

Washington, DC, May 23 - Republicans say it is inevitable that some voters would be concerned and even distracted by the numerous personal indiscretions of the various candidates likely to seek the office of president, and express concern about whether they would be likely to repeat such behavior while in the White House.

Giuliani: scandalous affair while in office.

George Allen: divorce! and a penchant for Confederate memorabilia

Gingrich: two (known) affairs, two divorces, including one delivered at the hospital bed of his (former geometry teacher) wife who had cancer, and one that occurred during Clinton impeachment hearings when he was having an affair with a staffer 23 years younger than himself.

McCain: divorce! And a wife with substance abuse problems.

Condoleeza Rice: An unmarried woman rumored to be a lesbian that has spent some weekends with President Bush whom she has at least once referred to as her husband.

Let's let the malicious gossiping begin!

Joseph Hovsep said...

Sloanasaurus" Americans tend to dislike dynasties.

Americans tend to say they dislike dynasties but they fall all too easily into the name-recognition/nostalgia trap, whether its Tafts, Roosevelts, Kennedys, Bushes, Gores or Clintons. That's the only reason Hillary or Jeb are mentioned as possible candidates, its the reason George W. Bush was able to find the support for his entry into politics.

The Ronald Regan/Bill Clinton Horatio Alger pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps narrative is, in my opinion and probably most Americans' opinions, much more inspiring, but its far from the norm in American politics.

Sloanasaurus said...

I recall that Reagan was divorced also..remember?

This stuff is as old as the hills - ala Thomas Jefferson and his slave mistress or Alexander Hamilton and the various slanders about him. However, none of these compare to the Clintons.

Sloanasaurus said...

"....Americans tend to say they dislike dynasties but they fall all too easily into the name-recognition/nostalgia trap, whether its Tafts, Roosevelts, Kennedys, Bushes, Gores or Clintons..."

Yes, but most of these were rejected in their quest for the presidency. I would not call the Roosevelts a dynasty as they were a more distant relation with different political views. Thus, other than Bush, only John and JQ Adams can claim such a dynasty and only because the Adam's were too principled to be anything like a dynasty.

If Clinton runs, the dynasty thing will be discussed over and over. Face it - no one wants another Clinton. The dynasty is over.

Jeff said...

Only in New York is Giuliani considered conservative... hell, most NY lefties consider him fascist (and not in an ironic way).

Giuliani is more of an old-school law-and-order liberal, a la mob-smasher Bobby Kennedy.

Joseph Hovsep said...

I absolutely don't want to see President Hillary Clinton and the dynastic element is a big part of the reason. But I think you underestimate the American appetite for dynasty (or maybe its just laziness or efficiency or reliability).

A few points on history. Eleanor Roosevelt was Teddy's niece and officiated at Eleanor and Franklin's wedding. Franklin and Teddy were more distant cousins but the connection in the public mind was certainly there. The difference in their politics is not so relevant given the extremely different circumstances of 1900 and 1932. FDR basically invented a new brand of politics to deal with the new circumstances of the Depression.

We probably would have had another Kennedy presidency but for the assassination of RFK (and maybe even but for the missteps of Ted Kennedy).

Again, no argument that dynasty is bad and that many Americans don't like dynasty, but there are also social/political factors that encourage people to support dynasty even if Americans don't acknowledge them as dyastic per se.

Pogo said...

I do understand the blood lineage dynasty concept: A well-regarded father, brother, or cousin (no females at POTUS yet) suggested the family member now up for candidacy might be cut from the same cloth.

Are spouses felt to be so cut? Given their duration together (and the seeming tenacity of their bond, is it love, tenure, a sentence, or penance?), perhaps the Clintons have indeed become much like each other. But apart from their shared acts of naked ambition, do they share a philosophy? If so, what is it?

SippicanCottage said...

Someone help me out here. Is the earlier commenter having a psychosexual daydream about sex with Condoleeza Rice, or with George Bush?

I've lost my decoder ring. I looked everywhere in the article, but neither person is mentioned.

Bissage said...
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Seven Machos said...

Did a guy up the thread just suggest that Condi Rice is a lesbian who may also be having sex with George W. Bush? I'm sure that was sarcasm. Tell me that was sarcasm.

And what national office has Newt Gingrich ever run for? You know lefties are hurting for material when they dredge up old Newt.

Simon said...

"other than Bush, only John and JQ Adams can claim such a dynasty and only because the Adam's were too principled to be anything like a dynasty."

At the risk of conceding a point to the hated Jackson, Quincy Adams was technically elected by the House of Representatives after the electoral college deadlocked. It might be (and has been) argued that technically the American people elected Andrew Jackson in 1824, and drove the point home in 1828 by kicking Adams out of office.

"what national office has Newt Gingrich ever run for? You know lefties are hurting for material when they dredge up old Newt."

It is very widely speculated that he is laying the groundwork to run for President. If he is not, then by sheer conincidence, he is doing precisely what a person who was running for President would be doing with their time. I suppose one could read Winning the Future as merely a desire to participate in the debate, but I think that book and his speeches of late telegraph an interest in being a candidate.

FWIW, if he runs, I will surely take him seriously, and I might even vote for him, although it's not clear to me that he can win the general election. It depends a lot on who runs (there are several folks I'd like to see in the primary, running the gamut from the Snowe/Whitman wing through to Newt), but surely better Newt than the nonentity Allen.

Elizabeth said...

I'm glad to see so many conservatives sick of dynasties and resolute not to vote for Jeb Bush.

Sippican and 7M, if you'd gotten your Gay Agenda in the mail, you'd know that lesbians make exceptions for W. When W comes a knockin', this house is a rockin'. Why are straight people so uninformed???

Sloan, I'll compare married Newt getting blown by an intern in his Mustang in the House parking lot to Bill with Monica in the Oval Office. Every bit as sleazy. Newt and Bill are soul brothers.

Sloanasaurus said...
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Sloanasaurus said...

Someone brought up Andrew Jackson. I thought it a worthy moment for a quote:

In 1782 Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson, who had been nursing American wounded during the Revolutionary war in an improvised hospital, contracted an infection and died, leaving young Andrew an orphan of the war. Andrew remembered every word of the dying advice of this grim woman: 'Avoid quarrels as long as you can without yielding to imposition. But sustain your manhood always. Never bring a suit in law for assault or battery or defamation. The law affords no remedies for such outrages that can satisfy the feelings of a true man [but] if you ever have to vindicate your honor, do it calmly.'

If only American men today portrayed such manliness. If only American women were to instill such values in their sons. Instead we get people like Billary, Howard Dean, and anyone assaulted by a celebrity.

Bissage said...

Newt had a Mustang? Cool!

MadisonMan said...

Newt had a Mustang? Cool!

Unless it was a model from the early 90s. Those were ugly.

dick said...

Just had a flash image of Clinton and Gingrich in a band as soul brothers. Breathtaking!!

Elizabeth said...

Bissage, wouldn't he need one to get hot chicks? But it was the 6-cylinder model, I bet.

Bissage said...

People, People, People! Come on now. We all know that Newt is cool and that cool guys drive cool Mustangs. Just like Steve McQueen.

Elizabeth said...
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Elizabeth said...

Bissage, why do you speak in the royal POV? Newt is an enemy of normal Americans. Steve McQueen, however, is cool.

Bissage said...

Any rich-guy who lobs beer cans at another rich-guy is okay by me.

Brad Pitt can shave This!

Walter said...

Is Steve serious in his question about Newt Gingrich?

Q: "And what national office has Newt Gingrich ever run for?"

A: He was the Speaker of the House.

Looks like Steve is either trolling or he is rather ignorant.

Chris said...

Well, look folks, what the NYT is trying to tell the Chattering Classes on the West Side and in the Democratic Cloakroom is rather simple: "Don't nominate these two. How can we peddle rumors about Condi's sexuality if Bubba is doing the Cigar High Step with Belinda Stronach? Nominate Gore, you idiots!"

Trust me; that's exactly what they're doing. The Timesmen know that those Condi fitness videos didn't come out by accident....

Simon said...

Walter said...
"Is Steve serious in his question about Newt Gingrich? Q: "And what national office has Newt Gingrich ever run for?" A: He was the Speaker of the House. Looks like Steve is either trolling or he is rather ignorant."

I presume that what he meant was that Newt had only ever been elected by the constituents of one Congressional district, relying on a very narrow definition of "national office". To an extent that's not inaccurate: I didn't vote for Newt to be Speaker, and neither did you. The real problem with using that restrictive definition is that the only person who genuinely runs for national office under so restrictive a definition of the term is the President.

Bissage said...
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Seven Machos said...

I guess I'm Steve. How is Speaker of the House a national office? When did the speakership become a nationwide, or even statewide, electoral process?

I rest assured your constitutional expertise is unparalleled, Walter. Just hoping you can connect the dots for me.

Andrew Foland said...

We will be getting the two-fer back, but they don't want you to think about it.

Interestingly, the NYT does.


I think you are being unfair here. Actually, I think you are being a little over-fair to the NYT.

The 2-for-1 is brought up only as a political calculation during a possible campaign. And even then, in a whole 3-page article, it is brought up exactly in one sentence (the one you mention.) There is no discussion whatsoever about the very real (and very worth thinking about) issue of governance with a former President in the residence.

The NYT did not write this article in order to have people think about any substantive issue of governance involved here. It's a huge stretch to pull one single sentence (and even that out of context) and tag the whole article with it.

One can speculate, as Slate does, as to the real reason it was written, and consider whether that is something we need to know more about.