Colombia and Bill: The Unanswerable Question for Hillary Clinton

05/25/2011 12:30 pm ET

Reporters got an interesting response when Senator Hillary Clinton was asked in Pittsburgh about Sam Stein's bang-up reporting that connected the dots in Bill Clinton's work to promote the Colombia Free Trade deal. Reports Newsweek, "First, Clinton giggled. Then she laughed. She waved her arms in the air. Then came an "Oh my." More laughter. A few eye rolls and head shakes. Then this: "I mean, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?""

Oh, I know this one. Wait. What?

The uncomfortable laughter and cryptic response is not a surprise. This is not a question that Senator Clinton can answer, especially if the media asks the right question. That question, naturally, is "What did you tell Bill Clinton when he told you that he was going to take $800,000 to help publicly promote the trade deal, and when he told you he was going to accept an award from President Uribe, as part of the PR effort to boost Uribe's image with Congress?"

In politics, you always try to predict questions, your response, and what the retort to that response will be, to ensure you're not check-mated. I ran through this exercise upon reading about the Senator's giggle-fest on trade, and came up with blanks.

To wit:

POSSIBLE ANSWER 1: I told him that was fine. He's his own person and I'm my own. I oppose the trade deal, and he knows that.

RETORT: So, you OK'd him working (and making money) to promote a trade deal that you believe hurts American workers, and stand with a President who you said is "targeting labor leaders?" How can you say you're trying to really kill this trade deal, then?

POSSIBLE ANSWER 2: I told him that I would rather he did not do that, and he knew I didn't like it. But he's his own person and I'm my own person, and we're going to disagree from time to time.

RETORT: So you told him not to do something and he did it anyway? Why can't you control Bill Clinton, especially on a matter so important? And if you couldn't control him now, why should Americans believe you can keep him in check as President? Or, more importantly, how are you going to control your Administration, filled with people who have different agendas and disagreements?

POSSIBLE ANSWER 3: He never asked me, but I told him I was upset when I found out.

RETORT: Bill Clinton is undermining your positions behind your back? Is this what your Presidency is going to look like?

There simply is no good answer to this issue. She loses no matter what she says. Either she admits that she's not really as opposed to the trade deal as a moral issue as she says, or she has no control over Bill Clinton, which of course is a bigger problem, as we'd be facing a "Two-Headed President" under that scenario - with world leaders and the American people not knowing who they should listen to.

It's a dilly of a pickle. I honestly can't blame Senator Clinton for her laughing response to the question. I wouldn't have the foggiest idea how to answer it either.

Then again, I'm not running for President.