The Corner

The Worst Clinton Precedent

Every awful thing cited by Victor about the Clintons’ behavior as they grab for the presidential term they believe that God and nature and the rest of us owe Hillary, is, of course, correct. But, to my right-wing feminist mind (if such a thing does not self-destruct of its own internal contradictions) the absolute worst precedent that Hillary is setting comes in campaigning while leaning heavily on her husband’s arm for support. She is leaning so hard now, that we understand that were he to take a vow of silence until November, and cease bolstering her, she would probably fall on her face.

This is not to be confused, as she attempted to do the other night, with having a spouse who is, (merely), an asset when it comes to professional advice, like Michele Obama, or Jeri Thompson.

It is bad enough that the first serious female candidate for the world’s most powerful office got where she is (as of now that is the U.S. Senate), by dint of her marriage, and not a career of ever more responsible political officeholding. It is bad enough that we all must work overtime not to dwell on the deal with the devil that constitutes her marriage to the former president: specifically, that she overlook a lifetime of unbridled public infidelity — in return for power.

This precedent is many quantum leaps more troubling than the frequently inevitable issue we have seen with Nancy Pelosi, and before her, Geraldine Ferraro — where the husband’s money enables the wife’s career. Those two women ran for office and were elected on their own, as did John McCain, whose wife has the money. I would say that it reeks of third-world politics, but even the late Benazir Bhutto, whose father built the family party and stole millions, which paved her way, was elected without depending on a husband to sway the voters.

The worst precedent of all, especially for those of us who hope and expect to see a rising generation of female politicians compete for ever higher office on their own merits, is that, if elected, it is hard to imagine that she will govern alone. Why would she? How could she? With Bill serving as her “Karl Rove,” we know that he is influencing not just the more technical aspects of campaign strategy, but also all of the positions she takes, the constituencies she courts (or he courts for her), and the promises that get made. The person who holds that job defines the substance of a presidency, for good or ill, only somewhat less than the president herself.

The price of this “two for the price of one” deal is that, at the very best, Hillary Clinton will be a co-president, (which she was not during her husband’s administration), who got there in a dubious manner that no future female candidate would wish to replicate. We would lack a blueprint for a woman’s career that got her to the top, or an example of what she really did when she was there. And really, for all those feminists out there — and I know this is the wrong website for that audience, but I wouldn’t be allowed to write at one that reached those women — it is only when you have a standardized and replicable blueprint for ultimate, earned female success in politics, as we now have in the professions, that real equality starts to exist.

Hillary’s choices are the problem, whatever potential she may once have had.

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