I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Monday, March 24, 2008

On the Radio: Is Every Administration a "Co-Presidency"?

Today on Mid Stream Radio (1 pm Eastern, 10 am Pacific) during the first half of the show we'll be joined by Shaun Mullen to take a look at his recent article, Why Hillary Must Come Clean About Bill. Shaun is a great writer, found at Kiko's House and as a regular columnist at The Moderate Voice. His main point is that Hillary is positioned in a unique spotlight, being the first candidate to have a spouse who is a former president.
Should Hillary Clinton win the nomination and the election, Bill Clinton will not morph from an alpha male into a passive male on Inauguration Day and will have an outsized, historically unprecedented and unwelcome impact on her presidency.


It is time for Mrs. Clinton to drop the blather about her independence and explain how a co-presidency is something that the American people should welcome since they will in effect be voting for two people should she survive the primaries and convention.

It's an interesting theory, and we would be feigning blindness to pretend that a political force like Bill Clinton would automatically be content to hold tea parties in the Rose Garden and read 'My Pet Goat" to school children across the country for the next four or eight years. But can we, absent some blatant hypocrisy, fairly make this assumption without holding the rest of the candidates to the same test? Shaun draws on our country's history to cite presidential spouses who had more of a hand on the wheel of state than we might like to think.
There are only two historic precedents for what will transpire if Mrs. Clinton is elected: Edith Wilson and Eleanor Roosevelt. (Yes, I know that Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer for President Reagan, but that’s different.)

When President Wilson’s health failed and a stroke left him partially paralyzed, Edith Wilson became the acting president and took over many of the details and duties of government. She vociferously opposed allowing the vice president to assume the powers of the presidency and the numerous failures that occurred during her husband’s incapacitation were her doing.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s role during President Roosevelt’s 12-plus year tenure was hands on from start to finish and she was a key player in shaping his domestic agenda. While still attending to the more traditional First Lady roles, she was an important connection between Great Depression victims and the government bureaucracy, and later between African-American civil rights leaders and the White House.

This analysis probably leaves out the greater significance of Nancy Reagan being in that position while her husband struggled with the onset of Alzheimer's Syndrome during his second term, but that is neither here nor there. While I'm not inclined to immediately reject Shaun's assertions - in fact they certainly have the ring of truth - I do feel that they beg a few questions which we'll seek to explore today.

First, is it really fair to make this assumption about Bill Clinton without asking similar questions of Mrs. Obama and Mrs. McCain? John's wife has been largely invisible in terms of intruding on policy etc. and mostly reserved her activity and comments to strong shows of support for Senator McCain and our troops. But Michelle Obama has certainly unleashed some observations which have fueled controversy. Will she also be a "co-president" and should her appearances influence our choice of candidate?

Second, do spouses not always impact the lives and activities of their partners? When you marry someone, it seems that this is an admission that you value their opinions and likely share many of them. You also place a tremendous amount of trust in them and expect them to share in your life. Should we have been considering candidates' spouses as potential co-presidents all along?

And last, at the opposite end of the opinion spectrum, the President still maintains the option of free will. They may be prone to accepting the input of their spouse, but at the end of the day it is the President alone who must make the final decision and be responsible for the outcome. This is no different than any other advisor who they invite to their inner circle.

It's an interesting topic and we'll see if we can't find any answers today. Be sure to tune in and join us. And remember to sign up for a free user account at Blog Talk Radio if you would like to participate in the always lively web chat. See you on the radio!