To suggest that Hillary Clinton stands a better chance of prevailing in November 2016 by kicking William J. to the curb, because voters are incapable of seeing HRC as her own person is, in a word, preposterous.
As Hillary Clinton is at the beginning of her second campaign for president, her husband Bill — “42” in White House parlance — appropriately has been laying low, presumably to let her gain the traction she needs to be her own candidate.
But a recent article in The New Republic suggests that Bill should go one step further for the entire 2016 political season for his wife to succeed — that he should Stay. Away. From. Hillary. The article entitled, “The Best Thing Hillary Could Do for Her Campaign? Ditch Bill” not so subtly shames her for not staying away from her husband and his foundation work, suggesting that Hillary sabotages herself with outdated wifely commitment. The article goes one step further in offering the unsolicited advice that if Hillary really wants to be elected in 2016, she’d better steer clear of the hubs.
There are few people who don’t already identify Bill and Hill as a couple. Solo appearances and stump speeches by Hillary will happen, of course, but they won’t erase our collective knowledge of her smooth-talking, charismatic husband or the fact that there was once a time when they proudly advertised themselves as a “two-fer.”
It’s pretty much impossible to say the name “Clinton” and not automatically think of Bill as well as Hillary. So to offer the campaign a strategy of ditching the husband is offering no real strategy at all, serving only to raise the this question without really asking it — Why does she stay with him?
Republicans, of course, will want Bill to stay in the picture so they can pound the drum of “Hillary’s never done anything on her own” and “she owes her whole political career to him,” planting the seeds of doubt about whether a President Hillary Clinton would be sharing the Oval Office and her presidential duties with her husband. But to suggest that HRC stands a better chance of prevailing in November of 2016 by kicking William J. to the curb, because voters are incapable of seeing Hillary as her own person unless Bill stays in Chappaqua for the next 17 months, is, in a word, preposterous. It’s like claiming that Americans can’t differentiate between Jeb and George W. and George H.W. or that somehow we confuse the father/son Paul team.
Somewhat surprisingly, it’s not Bill that could keep Hillary from the White House, but rather the ill will some women feel toward her that comes from an odd mix of views on marriage and feminism. I’ve stopped counting the number of women I know who’ve said they can’t forgive Hillary, let alone vote for her, because she didn’t divorce Bill over “what the meaning of the word is, is.” These friends and colleagues view Hillary’s decision to – yes – stand by her man, as a means to an end for her career rather than one of marital devotion and feel that somehow that makes her a bad fit to be the leader of the free world.
Regardless of how much or how little Bill Clinton appears with his wife on the campaign trail, he will always be the political elephant on the Clinton stage. Daughter Chelsea and grandbaby Charlotte are likely to appear with Hillary throughout her campaign, so whether Bill is actually standing with them or not, his specter will be always be present. So to suggest, that Hillary needs to “lose” Bill is the most impractical and least useful political advice anyone one could offer Hillary.
It’s off the cuff suggestions like that, ones that seem like they are meant to help Hillary, that only serve to keep stirring the already turgid pot of Hillary ambivalence — if only she hadn’t gone into the “family” philanthropy business after she was Secretary of State, if only she’d keep her distance from Bill — that will keep us from seeing what so many of us want to see in our lifetimes — a qualified woman president being elected to the White House.
Joanne Bamberger is an independent journalist, journalism entrepreneur and founder of The Broad Side. She is also the editor of the forthcoming anthology, Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox (She Writes Press, November 2015), already an Amazon #1 Hot New Release! You can find Joanne on Twitter at @jlcbamberger and on Facebook.