One of the things I can’t stand in candidates and elected officials is whining, and Hillary Clinton is a serious offender.
Last night, she brushed off questions about Bill Clinton ripping into Obama by saying all the candidates’ spouses supported their respective candidates. Yes, and Elizabeth Edwards has indeed been John’s attack dog in this campaign, and maybe Michelle Obama has taken a shot or two at Hillary. But Bill Clinton has been much more vocal than either of the others, particularly in recent weeks. I don’t recall either Michelle Obama or Elizabeth Edwards getting red in the face when denouncing their husbands’ rivals, nor have they claimed to personally witness fantastic tales of voter intimidation, right in front of them.
And he isn’t just another politician’s spouse; he’s a former president and really, the de facto legacy leader of the Democratic Party. The comparison to former president George H.W. Bush in 2000 isn’t flattering; there’s no doubt that the elder Bush preferred and supported his son, but you didn’t see him out on the campaign trail ripping McCain and Forbes.
When you have the unique advantages of having a former president as a spouse — name recognition, fundraising networks, longtime supporters, general good vibes — you inevitably come with some costs and drawbacks. A former president is going to be held to a different standard than an “ordinary” political spouse. It’s a fact of life, and whining that Bill is being held to a different standard doesn’t reflect well on either Hillary or Bill.