WASHINGTON, DC: But of course Bill Clinton wants his wife to become president of the United States and make history as the nation’s first female commander in chief.
Why, he’d be pleased as punch and proud as proud can be.
Plus, it would be tons of fun to return to the White House as the first husband. Bill would throw on an apron and start baking cookies so fast, Annie Leibovitz wouldn’t have time to wipe her lenses.
Or so one might plausibly speculate.
But this would be conscious Bill. Public Bill. Political Bill. Loves-to-be-loved Bill. Unconscious Bill might just be a different matter, as his actions often make one wonder: Does Unconscious Bill really want Hillary to be president?
The answer is not so clear.
No sooner is Hillary Clinton poised to win the nomination of the Democratic Party — and, quite possibly, the presidency — than big ol’ goofy Bill trips all over himself to make this outcome more difficult.
He just can’t help himself, or so it seems. How else can one explain his private conversation with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the midst of the FBI’s investigation of Hillary’s use of a personal server for email that included classified information?
To recap: The former president postponed his departure from the Phoenix airport when he learned that Lynch would be landing soon and then sought her out for a 30-minute chat. Why not? Well, there’s that ongoing investigation over which Lynch had the final say. There’s that. And there’s the November election.
It doesn’t matter that few thought Lynch was likely to indict the democratic nominee — or that the FBI will recommend it. It also doesn’t matter that both Lynch and Bill Clinton swear they only chatted about ordinary matters, such as grandchildren and whatnot.
What matters is that it happened. The meeting in and of itself was enough to cast doubt on the investigation and upon whatever transpires. Both Lynch and Clinton obviously should have known better, as many have pointed out. Then again, perhaps Lynch felt she couldn’t tell Bill to get lost — or didn’t think it was necessary. Maybe she was flattered.
Whatever the case, Lynch, who is highly respected as an independent actor, allowed herself to be placed in a position that would invite skepticism about her integrity.
Continuing the devil’s advocacy, maybe Clinton, who after all is just a good ol’ Arkansas boy, couldn’t imagine not speaking to the attorney general when they were both, serendipitously, soon to be on the same tarmac. What a coincidence! Okay, never mind. I don’t doubt the coincidental part, but it still seems profoundly odd, not to mention stupid, that Clinton would do such a thing. He ain’t dumb so you have to ask: Does a former president really hold his private jet only for the purpose of chatting about grandchildren with the attorney general whose dispensation of his wife’s case could alter the presidential race and the course of history?
Republicans, Donald Trump and even some Democrats aren’t buying it — or at least they’re questioning Lynch’s judgment and the appearance of impropriety. Texas Sen. John Cornyn has called on Lynch to appoint a special counsel. Others have asked her to recuse herself. Lynch has refused, but said she will accept the FBI’s recommendation.
Meanwhile, Hillary defaults to her familiar template as though on autopilot. She smiles and waves, tosses off something benign and turns the subject elsewhere. In the back of her mind, Hillary must be turning over a few choice words along with questions of her own: How could he? How dare he? It’s my turn, you blankety-blankety-blank-blank-blank.
It is, in fact, past her turn. And now it’s so close she can almost feel the whisper of air on her cheek as a uniformed Marine pulls open the door: Madame President. And, it just may be that Bill Clinton unconsciously can’t stand it. Invariably, he creates drama that brings the spotlight to him and brings trouble to his bride.
No ill may come of the Lynch encounter or of the FBI investigation. But even if Hillary’s record is cleared, there will always be a kernel of doubt about whether it was a clean deal. As it was in the beginning, is now — and ever shall be?
©2016, WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP