Many will argue about whether Bill Clinton was a good or bad President, but no one can argue he was a legendarily bad Presidential Husband.
In a masterpiece of political cynicism, Newt Gingrich’s House actually impeached Bill Clinton on essentially that charge – he was a bad husband. It is a cheap irony, if not a hallmark of Washington politics of the past 25 years that Gingrich, whatever else he might have been, was an even worse spouse.
Without any reference to his accusers’ taints, the Senate acquitted President Clinton of the impeachment charges, in part because husbanding is not one of the President’s official duties. Thus the spousal betrayal of adultery, even by a President, didn’t measure up the Constitutional standard of a “high crime or misdemeanor.”
On the other hand, upholding a respectable marital standard is about the only official duty of a First Spouse, and Bill Clinton’s past performance, not to mention whispers about his present private life, have some people dreaming up a nightmare in which First Gentleman Clinton is caught being something less…as Steven Colbert recently put, First Ladies’ Man.
There are, of course many more positive visions of Bill Clinton’s role in his wife’s Presidency, everything from taking charge of creating American jobs, to trouble-shooting foreign crises to just lending his considerable intellect as the closest Presidential Adviser.
Nina Burleigh, Newsweek’s National Politics Correspondent, the author of five books. Her last one, The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Trials of Amanda Knox, was a New York Times bestseller.