In the incredible presidential race of 2016, a recent tendency has been for journalists and commentators to wonder aloud about whether Donald Trump really wants to be president.
As you would suppose, this speculation is the work of people who don’t like the idea of Trump as president. And it distracts from the question of who the serious candidate actually is.
When commentators intone about the Clintons, they are usually a lot more serious than the occasion deserves. This lack of perspective belongs to the Clintons’ detractors as well as to their boosters. People on both sides grant legitimacy to the Clintons, while heaping ridicule on Trump.
The situation cries out for another perspective.
By now, almost everyone can agree that Bill Clinton’s airport meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch was a bad idea. Why did it happen?
It’s easy to see Lynch’s part of the error. When an ex-president comes knocking on your door, judicial considerations will fly out the window along with most others. The attorney general is first of all a human being, and the call of an ex-president is humanly difficult to resist.
It’s even likely that Lynch’s account of the conversation is truthful. Bill Clinton’s presence at her airplane was itself the message. He didn’t need to mention the FBI investigations; he didn’t need to heave his meaning into words.
But when the story broke, as it inevitably would, everyone saw that the ex-president had left a big, steaming pile on the attorney general’s plane. He had also left another, even bigger pile on the floor of his wife’s campaign.
Why would Bill Clinton, with his supreme gift for politics, do such a thing? A sensible explanation is very near the one that the ex-president’s allies have been sticking to Trump.
In some part of himself, Bill Clinton does not want Hillary for president.
How would it be for any ex-president to serve, or just to live, in a spouse’s presidential administration? How would it be for this ex-president?
History offers few parallels. It certainly has none for present-day America. But the answer is not hard to imagine.
In the language of partisan combat, the Clintons live as a cohesive unit. In the flesh, they press on with a morass of resentment seething beneath appearances. They are the very model of a miserable family. And they are primed for an explosion.
If Hillary were to reach the presidency—or so her husband must fear—she would make it her business to exact revenge for the consistent humiliations he gave her; not just during his presidency but during his advance to the White House, and after the White House too.
In a just world, that might mean Hillary having a succession of young men attending to her in the way that younger women have attended to her husband. But in the world we have, it’s not how things work.
Ex-president Bill would have reason to expect something far less gentle when his wife is holding the power of the world in her hands.
That scenario, droll as it might seem, poses grave consequences for the United States. The Clinton melodrama consumed two years of the nation’s life, plunging the U.S. into an impeachment crisis and causing repercussions that are still untold. How much would a second Clinton melodrama cost?
For all the media’s obsession with the private lives of citizens, interviewers have been remarkably circumspect when they approach the hotbed of conflict inside the Clinton family. According to Hillary, the matter is old news, and we have moved beyond it.
Such is the explanation that the media and its agents accept—while at the same time depicting Trump as a blowhard, inconstant, bigoted, unfit for high office, and so on.
It’s time for the republic and its citizens to show the maturity that its opinion-makers haven’t—to act on the very broad hint that the ex-president left on the attorney general’s plane.
The Clinton White House, the only one we know, devolved in a pit of scandal. The best of witnesses has told us, in a whisper, not to let it happen again. It behooves us to heed the warning.
David Landau, a contributor to The Daily Caller, is a journalist and novelist.