Hillary Clinton:Whose mate will she be?Commentary

Dealing with Hillary Clinton as his prospective running mate, which would also mean dealing with the unhinged baggage of her husband, surely would prepare Barack Obama well for vexing international diplomacy as president.

Obama would need to make clear to Hillary and Bill that they would be working for him and no longer themselves.

He’d need to tell Bill to disentangle himself from business enrichments with controversial characters and agree to put his and Hillary’s newfound wealth in a blind trust.

He’d need to tell Bill to make no more speeches for hire and to speak only at the behest and under the supervision of the campaign and, if the campaign is successful, the administration.

He’d need to tell Bill to make full disclosures of all donors to his presidential foundation and avoid any ad hoc dealings through that foundation with foreign leaders.

He’d need to tell Bill to fly no more on the plane of that supermarket tycoon playboy with the 20-ish girlfriends.

He’d need to make clear that presidents take priority over former presidents.

If Bill said no to any of that — and surely he would, because he’s plainly huffy and out of control and resentful of Obama’s emergence — then Barack might need to tell Hillary to choose: Be his wife or my running mate.

That’d be some delicate business right there. If Monica couldn’t break up those two, I doubt Barack could.

I’m not seriously suggesting marital dissolution.

A marriage is the business only of the two people in it, and any minor offspring, of course.

I’m only saying Bill brings so much destructive energy to this running-mate proposition that it’s hard to imagine it could work. It seems next to impossible for a strong-willed and newly maniacal former president to subjugate himself to being spouse of the vice president in an ensuing administration.

If there’s anything more insignificant than being vice president, it’s being spouse of the vice president.

I’m trying to think of Spiro Agnew’s wife’s name.

But if somehow Bill and Hillary could be disjoined for these purposes, then Bill could go on with his world statesmanship and international celebrity while Hillary could go on with her holding pattern for the next shot at the presidency.

It was Sting who sang: “If you love someone, set them free.”

As things stand, though, Obama couldn’t possibly put up with Bill behaving the way he’s been behaving lately — cavorting with image-challenged businessmen, saying wild and incendiary things and angrily denying their plain evidence the next day, calling reporters scum bags, asserting that the media, the supposedly ever-conspiring media, propped up Barack and kept Hillary down, even alleging that Obama himself was using surrogates to slime Hillary.

Seriously, there is growing speculation, and maybe even a kind of evidence, that Bill, always undisciplined and mercurial when without a strong, on-site enforcer, had some of his wiring short out on him during that open heart surgery.

I still think, though, that this is just how Bill gets when left to his own devices and when he is not the center of attention. Imagine him, then, as spouse of the vice president.

No, don’t.

It’s not a pretty sight — certainly for Barack Obama.

John Brummett is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. His e-mail address is jbrummett@arkansasnews.com.

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