It was during the 1992 presidential campaign that Arkansas governor Bill Clinton — the nation’s first baby-boomer presidential candidate, running against President George H. W. Bush — used the phrase “two for the price of one.”
This twofer concept was Clinton’s quaint way of bragging (to the delight of feminists) that his wife, Hillary, an accomplished corporate lawyer and fellow Yale Law School graduate, was going to play a major role in his administration well beyond that of a traditional First Lady.
Much has been written about the Clintons’ co-presidency, but two milestones stand out.
The first was when Hillary presided over legislation to introduce universal health insurance and was publicly humiliated by its stunning collapse.
The second, and of greater historical importance, was when Hillary led the way in defending her husband against continuing allegations concerning his “extra-curricular” activities. Even though several intertwined Clinton scandals eventually led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives, Hillary was credited with “saving” his presidency, his subsequent legacy, and hers as well — as she ran for and won a Senate seat from New York in 2000 while still First Lady.
We can also thank Mrs. Clinton for coining the infamous phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy,” which she used to describe Republicans who were “out to get” her husband. This was before the stain on Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress was determined to be of a personal nature. (But all that is considered ancient history.)
Fast-forward to June 13, 2015, when Hillary Clinton “officially” launched her second presidential campaign. Buried within USA Today’s report on the event was this line: “As in 2008, she must convince voters that another Clinton in the White House — make that two Clintons – is a good thing.”
However, during Hillary’s speech touting a left-leaning populist agenda — squarely aimed at re-energizing and reassembling Barack Obama’s twice-victorious voter coalition — she made no mention of two Clintons back in the White House being a “good thing” or even a “thing” at all.
This raises an important question for Hillary that thus far has managed to slip through the media and political cracks of the 2016 campaign cycle: If you are elected, will there be another Clinton co-presidency? That twofer issue, lightly bandied about in 1992, now takes on new, enhanced meaning and must be addressed thoroughly and publicly, by both Clintons.
Which raises another question: How does Mrs. Clinton assure the American people that, if elected, she alone will be president and not share the levers of power with her husband? Treating him as a co-president would be in plain contradiction of the sense of the 22nd Amendment, which limits a president to two four-year terms.
Answers to both these questions are extremely complicated and politically multi-layered.
But even more intriguing is this question: Are people who intend to vote for Hillary assuming that Bill will be the de facto president or, at the very least, co-president?
At least one high-powered Democratic lobbyist believes that a Clinton co-presidency is a given.
Therefore, I would encourage national polling on this sensitive question. But in the meantime, here is some speculation based on available polling.
Bill’s favorable rating currently stands at 64%, with 33% unfavorable. In the same poll, Hillary’s favorable rating stands at 46%, with 50% unfavorable. These numbers could lead one to conclude that if Hillary’s last name were Jones, instead of running for president at 67 years of age, she might be semi-retired, happily babysitting her granddaughter and running for president of her book club.
Furthermore, if Hillary manages to become the nation’s first female president (with Bill’s help, of course, both behind the scenes and on center stage when needed), she makes history and he forges the only possible path back to the Oval Office. A grand win-win for both!
Now consider some stunning historical polling data suggesting that voters might indeed be comfortable with a Clinton co-presidency.
Upon leaving office in January 2001, President Bill Clinton had an extremely high job-approval rating of 66%, with only 29% disapproving. More amazing was that Clinton won his highest-ever job-approval rating of 73% on December 19–20, 1998, while he was being impeached.
So how does Clinton’s average job-approval rating compare with those of the six other two-term postwar presidents?
Surprise! Bill Clinton is the winner, nosing out even the ever-likable Ike.
Considering these second-term job-approval averages, let’s pose a slightly different question: Do the American people want a Clinton co-presidency?
By November 2016 we will have an answer, but in the meantime, keep an eye on Bill Clinton’s current favorable rating — for it might be an accurate indirect indicator of Hillary’s electability.
Then for an accurate direct indicator, turn to Real Clear Politics for its 2016 general-election match-ups. These poll averages show Hillary consistently defeating the top three GOP contenders as of now — Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Marco Rubio — by an average of 5.4 percentage points. (Although in the wake of Hillary’s various recent scandals, the gap has been narrowing slightly.)
As my mother used to say, “Be careful what you ask for because you might get it.” Now I direct those words of wisdom toward Obama voters who are being targeted by Team Hillary and should heed the warning.
Finally, at age 89, my mother is very excited about the possibility of voting for the first female president. But Mrs. Clinton’s gender agenda is actually a half-truth, since the “H” in the Hillary for President logo also represents the power, popularity, myth, legend, drama, lies, corruption, and scandal of “Him” — who was, and is today, even greater than “Her.”
Cross-posted at National Review Online