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Bench Memos

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Stanley Kurtz on a Second Clinton Co-Presidency



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The cover essay in the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books is a very interesting preview by my Ethics and Public Policy Center colleague Stanley Kurtz of what a “second Clinton co-presidency” would mean. As PowerLine’s Scott Johnson puts it, “No matter how much you know about Bill and Hillary, I think you are likely to learn something about them from Kurtz’s essay.” 

Here’s a taste: 

It was the first and only time in this country’s history that supreme executive authority had been simultaneously wielded by two people, man and wife. Bill was away on a foreign trip. That left his wife, who’d only recently rebuffed Henry Hyde’s bid to remove them both from power, in command of the nation’s domestic affairs. At this delicate juncture, Bill’s powerful spouse confided her innermost thoughts to a private diary she habitually kept close by and ready for burning in the event of discovery. Few Americans know anything of this diary’s contents, which can now be publicly revealed.

I refer, of course, to the private papers of Queen Mary II, who ruled England with her husband, King William III, from 1689 to 1694, an example of joint sovereignty unique in English history….

William and Mary are the exception that proves the rule. From ancient Rome to contemporary Latin America, history shows that in the absence of clear, hierarchical lines of authority, joint executive power tends to produce debilitating confusion and weakness….

Yet what if the deepest political problem in Hillary’s past has never been fully grasped? Legal and constitutional formalities aside, Bill and Hillary Clinton shared executive power. “Buy one, get one free,” Bill famously bragged during the 1992 presidential campaign. Hillary was not merely an important advisor but a true co-president, wielding far more consequential executive authority than, say, Mary II ever did. The results were disastrous, and are likely to be so again should the Clintons once more attempt to adapt their power-sharing arrangement to an American presidency expressly designed to exclude what the founders called a “plural executive.” 



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