It's been a good summer for Bill Clinton. He was roundly praised for his role in the release of two imprisoned American journalists in North Korea; and, if the political rumor mills are worth their salt, the former president will have the pleasure of walking his only child down the aisle when she weds her longtime beau in Martha's Vineyard later this month.
For Bill's wife, however, this summer probably won't go down as her best ever (although it can't possibly be any worse than last year at this time). In arguably the flashiest international mission since she was sworn in as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton watched in silence as her husband took over her job for 24 well-photographed hours and did his best Superman imitation, saving the day, er, the two journalists. Shortly after that she was given the unenviable task of diplomatically rejecting an offer that her husband ignored nine years ago from a Kenyan who proposed 40 goats and 20 cows in exchange for Chelsea's hand in marriage.
Last month Hilary pleaded with North Korea to grant amnesty to the journalists to no avail. And of course there were countless reasons why she couldn't go to North Korea, not the least of which was the Obama administration's concrete determination that diplomatic capital not be expended on behalf of the jailed reporters. Blah, blah, blah.
While Hillary is no doubt thrilled that everyone lived happily ever after, few would be surprised if she said she actually hoped for an alternate path to the ending. It was bad enough when she gritted her teeth and stuck with Bill for 24 years while putting aside her own career ambitions, only to be embarrassed time and again through thick (Monica and Linda) and thin (Gennifer and Paula). Of course there was ultimately a light at the end of the tunnel, her stand-by-her-man-ness paying off when she was elected to the U.S. Senate.
But then she lost the grand prize last year to an upstart who seemed like he was swallowing throw-up every time he mentioned her husband's name. Pundits debated endlessly during the 2008 presidential primaries whether Bill was Hillary's political kryptonite. No matter what type of industrial-strength cleaner she's ever used, she can never seem to scrape the poo that is her husband's shadow from beneath her shoe.
And then North Korea happens, and it's as if she had worked hard to save money to buy a new car, all the while thoroughly researching which make and model best fit her family's safety and comfort needs. She applies and qualifies for a loan based on a stellar credit report she made a serious effort to earn.
Nevertheless at the last minute she realizes she needs her husband to go to the dealership with her because the sales manager, for whatever reason, might not otherwise give her the best deal. After that, every time he gets a chance, her husband will brag at dinner parties about the exceptional price he negotiated for the car and that's all anyone will ever remember. And while she'll enjoy the car, she'll never have the satisfaction of knowing she completed the transaction completely on her own.
To add insult to injury, a recent poll on MSNBC.com revealed 82 percent of people think Bill has more international clout than Hillary (with 4.6 percent saying she's the bigger cheese and 13.4 percent saying they're about equal).
No wonder Hillary's a little touchy of late on the subject of whether she's a better diplomat than Bill. If looks could kill, she murdered a reporter last week who a translator mistakenly said asked her what her husband thought about another international situation.
Bill's like the Vanna White to Hillary's Pat Sajak. Pat's the host, to be sure, but should a broken fingernail render Vanna unable to turn letters, the show would lose its luster, the ratings sure to plummet and the producers would probably debate pulling the plug. There's no way TV Guide is putting Pat on the cover unless Vanna stands by his side in a sequined evening gown.
The summer could have been worse for Hillary though. The North Koreans reportedly rejected her best frenemy, Al Gore, as a "suitable emissary," before agreeing to give the journalists up to her husband. For the first time in her life she's got to be at least a little happy it was her husband and not someone else engaged in a highly publicized mile-high threesome.