Years before the 2016 presidential campaign got underway, pundits and the public alike were debating "Clinton fatigue." Back in 2007, the Wall Street Journal even invented "Clinton Book Fatigue," to go along with the regular variety. The updated version from Keep the Promise I, a PAC backing Ted Cruz, debuted in a video in August of 2015. It depicted a hospital ward full of barely-alive patients suffering from the "disease" of Clinton Fatigue.
Agony and attack ads notwithstanding, it seemed a legitimate question: was it desirable or even right to concede the presidency to a political royal family once again? And if so, should a candidate share credit or blame for the past sins and successes of a family member in the White House?
Now that the choice is here, it's no longer a theoretical issue. But it's moved beyond mere association, and into the realm of personal responsibility for one's political forebears. Donald Trump was first in the ring months ago -- charging Hillary Clinton with being an "enabler" to Bill's sexual shenanigans while in office. In the past few days he has reprised the accusation, no doubt hoping to keep it alive for the general election. (Trump also blamed the late Jeb Bush for his bro's big boo-boo in Iraq.)
Fair or not fair? Clearly not fair when it comes to the enabler charge. We don't know what Hillary knew and when she knew it. We do know she held her head high and she tried to minimize the damage to save her husband's career and probably their marriage to boot. It's a path countless women have taken for centuries under similar circumstances. And "by the way" (as Trump is fond of saying) there's more than a little sexism here. Betty Ford had a drug and alcohol problem when Gerald Ford was in the White House. No one ever called him an enabler.
But that's all really beside the point. Bill Clinton is not running--Hillary Clinton is. Besides being irrelevant to her campaign, his wandering eye is irrelevant to his record in matters of governing and the country's well being. If sexual escapades count, we'd have to downgrade the presidencies of at least half the guys who have served, from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower to JFK -- and that's just the 20th century. So maybe Eleanor, Mamie, Jackie and Hillary can all be blamed for picking imperfect partners, but surely not for their husbands' successes or failures at leading the country.
When asked in a public forum right after Trump's initial "enabler" attack, Bernie Sanders put it best. "Look, Hillary Clinton is not Bill Clinton. What Bill Clinton did, I think we can all acknowledge, was totally, totally, totally disgraceful and unacceptable," the Vermont senator told a crowd at an Iowa town hall. "But I am running against Hillary Clinton. I'm not running against Bill Clinton. I believe what we need to do as a nation is focusing on issues facing this country. So what I am doing is contrasting my record with Hillary Clinton's record, and they are very, very different records. . ."
Sanders is right. Hillary is woman enough to take credit or blame on her own record, which is extensive. She's not running for Bill Clinton's third term. She's running for her first term, and even though he campaigns for her, neither of them touts his resume as a reason to vote for her.
Hillary has been straightforward about what she's for, what she's against, and why she has changed her mind on such matters as her vote for the Iraq war and support for the Trans Pacific Partnership. It's certainly fair to accept or reject both her record and her explanations, as we do for all other candidates.
But none of that has anything to do with Bubba.
A version of this blog was originally distributed by insidesources.com