Having joined the 2008 presidential wannabe party, Hillary’s signalled her willingness to go through the public meat grinder — an evidently contagious form of self-flagellation that I truly do not comprehend.
There are aspects of Hillary, though, that I do understand (or at least I think I do), and they stem from being a woman and wife. Thus, while I don’t know what she might think when she reads that she’s merely a reflection of her husband’s glory, my gorge comes up, and I’m willing to bet hers does too:
That the Bush’s administration has been consumed by political partisanship comes as no surprise to students of history. From the time of John Quincy Adams — whose term in office marked the end of the Era of Good Feelings — the children, grandchildren and spouses of presidents engender exceptional hostility when they seek office themselves. For all their personal capacities, the latter Adams, Harrison and Bush — like Hillary Clinton — inherited their claims to the presidency. George W. Bush would not be president today were his name not George Bush, nor Hillary a senator from New York absent the Clinton name. This nation’s traditional commitment to meritocracy inclines many to reject these “unnatural” aristocrats, who never garner widespread popularity.
If there was ever an example of why women should consider keeping their maiden names, this is it.
Hillary Clinton was hardly a basking wallflower plucked from obscurity and given light and air by her magnanimous husband; she was — and is — a powerful, brilliant, and educated woman who had launched a legal career and had ambitions of her own. That she chose the supportive path many (most?) women ultimately do when the husband’s career dominates the marriage hardly remakes Hillary in Bill’s image.
Surely folks realize that marrying a man doesn’t change the woman’s genetics or neural pathways… right?
To go along with that, though, is this Jonathan Alter article about “How Hillary stacks up against Bill“:
We are only now beginning to assess how the comparisons will play out. If elected she would be the president, and he the—what? First Gentleman? First Man? Or would protocol demand they be introduced as “The president of the United States and former president”? What will happen when they are known to disagree about some issue? He would be expected to defer to her, of course, but imagine if the public thought he had the better judgment. What then? Even as Hillary and Bill Clinton take the first steps down this uncharted path, we’re back where we were 15 years ago—trying to figure out not just their personal relationship, but the qualities they share, and those they don’t.
While I’m amused at the “what do we call him” word games, it’s far less funny to imagine the press corps one day grilling Bill for his opinion on Hillary’s policy / action / speech.
Are they doing this with Laura? Okay, scratch that… but would we wonder about Elizabeth Edwards’ opinion? Of course we wouldn’t, and while Bill Clinton’s thoughts are relevant as a former president, they’d be no more or less relevant if his wife is elected than they are today.
His status would be unchanged; this really isn’t rocket science here.
It’s obvious to me that we really do need a woman president — if only because some social assumptions desperately need to be re-set.