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The Clintons: Traditional marriage or business deal?

Armstrong Williams | 8/4/2016, 12:18 p.m.
Who knows when it took a turn for the worse—when the Clinton marriage stopped being one of commitment and became ...
Armstrong Williams

Who knows when it took a turn for the worse—when the Clinton marriage stopped being one of commitment and became a marriage of convenience. Despite the idyllic picture that Bill Clinton painted in his Democratic Convention speech of a pair of young idealists settling down in a two-room house in rural Arkansas (after both completed Yale Law and one was running for governor), becoming the beaming parents of a red-faced cherub, and then settling into a lifelong partnership based on love and mutual respect, the Clinton union is plainly anything but a traditional marriage.

Let’s face it, Hillary was never destined to be the traditional wife, and Bill admitted as much in the speech. Almost every indication about her early youth was that she was both free spirit and a firebrand, someone who was driven from an early age to break through the glass ceiling and assume the mantle of power in America. One wonders whether her marriage to Bill was a marriage of convenience—at least as far as Hillary saw it—from the very beginning. Shrewd enough to know that despite the fact that doors were opening for women in the early 1970s, and law schools such as Yale and Harvard were admitting women in record numbers, the heights of power, the smoke-filled rooms and white-male-only country clubs where power was actually brokered, were all but closed to her.

By marrying Bill, another young, ambitious graduate—and a Southern white male—she would be able to ride his coattails and be granted admission (albeit as his companion) to a private club that she, despite her talent, accomplishment and ambition, was barred from joining solely because of her gender. To admit that Hillary Clinton and women of her generation (as well as subsequent and previous generations) have faced a glass ceiling limiting their accomplishments is to admit the obvious. The fact remains that before now, no major political party has ever nominated a woman to be president of the United States. This certainly stands out among world democracies, especially because two of Europe’s most powerful nations, England and Germany, are currently helmed by women. Even such countries as India and Sierra Leone, hardly known as places where women’s rights are championed, have already elected female leaders.

But looking at the Clintons’ marriage, one wonders whether it was a business arrangement from the beginning, or whether, at some point along the line, the lies, betrayals and infidelities killed what love there once was and left only a partnership bound together by naked ambition. What broke the love? Was it the numerous extramarital affairs while Bill served as governor of Arkansas? Was it the cover-ups of financial dealings by Hillary in connection with the fraudulent Whitewater Development Corporation? Surely by the time we got to the tawdry Monica Lewinsky fiasco, the Clintons’ love affair, if ever there were one, had petered out, and perhaps the only remaining thing left was spousal privilege against incrimination.

But aside from being able to confide in each other where the “bodies” were buried without fear of the legal recrimination, another, stronger bond seemed to emerge in the aftermath of the Bill Clinton presidency. Bill agreed to back Hillary’s naked ambition to wield political power. Bill may be ambitious, a climber in his own right and a natural politician, but Hillary is another animal all together. She exhibits none of Bill’s trademark charm, while aspiring to all of Bill’s outsized political power. While Hillary has definitely advocated for women’s rights, sponsored childcare legislation and voiced concern for civil rights, those acts were merely means to an end. They were part of a long-term strategy to build a resume that would eventually break through the glass ceiling and anoint her the first female president of the United States. Oh, she of the traveling pants suit—just as good as any man, only bolder, tougher and with more balls.