Is Bill torn between resentment of being second fiddle and gratification that Hillary can be first banana only with his help? Their relationship has always been a co-dependence between his charm and her discipline. But what if, as some of her advisers suggest, she turned out to be a tougher leader, quicker to grasp foreign policy, less skittish about using military power and more inspirational abroad? What if she were to use his mistakes as a reverse blueprint, like W. did with his dad?Maureen Dowd sounds absolutely right to me. I note that she's reacting to the Matt Bai article that appears in this week's NYT Magazine. I reacted to it on Wednesday and said something similar:
When Bill gets slit-eyed, red-faced and finger-wagging in defense of her, is he really defending himself, ego in full bloom, against aspersions that Obama and Edwards cast on Clintonian politics?
Maybe the Boy Who Can’t Help Himself is simply engaging in his usual patterns of humiliating Hillary and lighting an exploding cigar when things are going well....
Hillary advisers noted that when Bill was asked by a supporter in South Carolina what his wife’s No. 1 priority would be, he replied: C’est moi! “The first thing she intends to do is to send me ...” he began.
He got so agitated with Charlie Rose — ranting that reporters were “stenographers” for Obama — that his aides tried to stop the interview...
If you were writing a novel about the 2008 presidential campaign, wouldn't you want Bill Clinton as your main character? What a complex situation he is in. He stands to gain power, but his time is also over. He can help his wife, but he can also hurt her. He is supposed to fight for her, but he's continually tempted to justify himself. He has the more creative mind, but he cannot outshine her.This too. (About that priceless quote: "Everything I'm saying here is my wife's position, not just mine.")
So: Loyal spouse? Subconscious saboteur? Frankly, I think he's too smart for it to be subconscious. I think he's devoted to her, but he's a dominant male, and the situation is inherently complex. Perhaps he wants conflicting things, but he must primarily want her to win, and assuming that's so, he needs to get control of himself in public so that we never see the part of him that wants her to lose.