The Washington Post headline says it all: The Clintons aim to keep their worlds from colliding. As one of the most powerful couples in politics for the last few decades, the Clintons continued political influence has created complications.
As Hillary Clinton has assumed more and more of the spotlight due to her run for the Presidency and her subsequent appointment to Secretary of State, she has had to confront allegations and assumptions that somehow, Bill Clinton is still asserting power behind the scenes. However, because the Clintons are so closely aligned in many aspects of policy, creating a clear dividing line has started to get tricky:
Yet the real story is more complicated because, 10 months into her tenure, it is clear that their worlds and their interests cannot avoid intersecting. Hillary Clinton has put problems such as Northern Ireland, Haiti and Third World development near the top of the agenda at the State Department, and they are also part of the former president's charitable mission. Bill Clinton secretly helped push the administration's — and his wife's — agenda with North Korea on a trip officially called a humanitarian mission.
Relying on her husband's counsel could have long ranging implications for HRC:
The Clintons declined requests for interviews, but their aides emphasize that Secretary Clinton is carrying out the Obama administration's foreign policy and say that their shared priorities are a coincidence. Some lawmakers, however, are wary of potential conflicts. Bill Clinton's charitable foundation has received large contributions in recent years from governments such as Saudi Arabia's, as well as Indian tycoons and prominent supporters of Israel — presenting what Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) called a "multimillion-dollar minefield of conflicts of interest." In response, the former president agreed to release the foundation's donor list and allow ethics officials to review some foreign pledges; the first annual disclosure of contributions since Hillary Clinton was confirmed is weeks away.
However, to not rely on either Clinton's council would be foolish.
While the Clintons lead separate professional lives, they deal with some of the same leaders and issues. The William J. Clinton Foundation works in more than 40 countries on health, climate change and economic development, often collaborating with governments. The annual Clinton philanthropic powwow drew 33 presidents and prime ministers — from Colombia to Kenya to Turkey.
Mindful of concerns about impropriety, and eager to be judged on her own merits, Hillary Clinton has played down her husband's influence.
In a way, it's saddening how a match of equals has been turned into a potential liability for Hillary Clinton. Reading through descriptions of their obvious respect for each other's minds (even if Bill couldn't seem to extend that to other parts of their relationship) is actually quite touching. It's rare to hear of a couple on the save wavelength intellectually, as the Clinton's often are:
Friends say the Clintons talk and e-mail frequently and have always been deeply interested in each other's opinions and ideas. "A lot of the overlap in their interests and work you might see now are probably an outgrowth of having worked together on those issues when they were in the White House," said Doug Hattaway, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
That is true of Northern Ireland, where Bill Clinton helped broker the 1998 peace accords. The couple also has a long-standing interest in Haiti. They visited the poverty-stricken country as newlyweds in 1975, and their involvement intensified with the 1994 U.S. military intervention Bill Clinton ordered to dislodge a junta.
However, there are those who believe that outside of political manuvering, the Clinton's partnership will do far more good than harm in the world:
Haitian Ambassador Raymond Alcide Joseph said the Clinton double-whammy is powerful. "I think Haiti is just more than lucky at this time to have this great couple in various capacities poring over it and looking at it, helping it," he said.
The Clintons Aim To Keep Their Worlds From Colliding [Washington Post]