The Big Unmentionable

In the "Top of the Ticket," A Los Angeles Times blog, Andrew Malcolm makes an interesting observation about the "online album with some favorite photos from the campaign" posted on Hillary's web site, complete with an oversized red bar on which is printed CONTRIBUTE -- an effort to ease her campaign's debt of many millions -- including the $11-million-plus she (and Bill) lent her failed race to the White House

Presumably intended to evoke nostalgia and admiration for Hillary's energetic attempt, the album features the senator from New York looking good in her various pants suits, her makeup thick, her hair sculpted so that not a single streaked strand is awry. Adoring poses with Chelsea dominate; but there is not a single pose, adoring or otherwise, with the third member of the immediate family -- Bill.

60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt wrote that after Hillary and Bill left a room in Boston's Ritz-Carlton on Super Bowl Sunday, 1992, the last place he, Hewitt, would have wanted to be, was with Hillary. That was the night that she saved Bill's candidacy by defending him in that hotel room, on 60 Minutes, against charges that she knew to be true: Bill had indeed had a long affair with Gennifer Flowers,

One had the same sense after Hillary finally conceded the race to Obama. It would not have been much fun to have been Bill Clinton on that afternoon and night, Saturday, June 7, 2008.

The former president's absence from Hillary's photo album brings the campaign full circle. In December 2006, as Hillary approached her January 2007 announcement that she was running for the nomination for the presidency, she appeared on The Today Show. Anchor Meredith Vieira tried to prod Hillary into announcing right then, on that morning's edition of Today. Hillary never mentioned Bill, and the photos that the show's producers ran in the background, as Hillary and Vieira chatted, showed Chelsea, but not Bill. At that point Hillary seemed to think that Bill was the liability that he proved to be -- but perhaps for the wrong reasons. She did not want to be seen, as she put it during that famous Gennifer Flowers 60 Minutes interview so many years before, as some "....Tammy Wynette standing by my man." She wanted to be seen as her own woman.

And then came Al Gore nine days later in Detroit, finally publicly endorsing Obama. The former vice president showed again that he is not much of a risk taker. In 2000, fearing he would be stained, so to speak, by Monica and impeachment, he kept his distance from Bill Clinton, and, some Democrats still gripe, lost the election because he did. (Others argue that Gore's decision to freeze out Bill was the only reason he came so close.)

So poor Bill, who has temporarily dropped from sight, sustained a double humiliation. As Andrew Malcolm pointed out, Gore, in endorsing Obama, never said the name of his one-time boss, Bill Clinton. The former president, after all, was the only reason that the eyes of the world were upon Al Gore that night, and the only reason he was sharing that stage with Barack Obama.