The campaign press and punditry certainly has had a lot to say of late about Bill Clinton’s role in Senator Clinton’s presidential campaign — what’s appropriate or not, what’s effective or not — and chances are we’ll have more to say about what they’ve said.
For now, I’ll point out two female opinion journalists from opposite ends of the political spectrum sounding remarkably similar on this topic — suggesting, in effect, that when Hillary Clinton’s spouse speaks out forcefully on her behalf, something that several candidates’ spouses are doing, it diminishes the historic, glass-ceiling-breaking aspect of her candidacy.
Peggy Noonan, the Wall Street Journal columnist, on Sunday’s Meet the Press:
Can I say, on the campaign trail, one of the things I find jarring the past few weeks is that Hillary Clinton is the first major party woman running for president of the United States. She is a woman. She’s running for president. She’s running for head of the United States, chief executive officer. And she has to send her husband out to yell at the neighbors? It’s like she’s, she’s saying, “You go out there, you fight for me. My husband’s going to tell you off!” There’s something strange, jarring, unbecoming and even unfeminist about it.
Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, on NBC’s Today Show this morning:
I think Bill Clinton — there’s a role for Clinton to be an advocate, a passionate and effective advocate. It’s unprecedented territory, the Clinton, an ex-president but he’s like a little league dad sometimes. He seems so over-invested in cementing his legacy, a referendum on his presidency, instead of trying to raise money for her. But it’s a dangerous move because it reminds people of the dynastic politics. As a woman…let me just finish, are voters going to be moved in this election by how they believe, what they think about a spouse? Is that a gender breakthrough?
The specter of a Clinton presidency really does have a special unifying power.