THE BLOG

My Husband Is Not the Secretary of State

09/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A rolling stone becomes quite mossy,
unless supported by its posse
when celebrating birthdays in
Las Vegas. Hillary can't win
when in the Congo in a tizzy
she has to prove that she is busy
running the affairs of State,
and not the ex-pres who's her mate.
Such competition does not put
the wife in a good light. The foot
she shoots is hers, while rolling south,
and makes her limp with motor mouth
she ought to put to better uses
and now employs to make excuses
for ways that she embarrasses
herself, and hurting, harasses
the people who cannot forget
it's easy to make her upset,
reminding her she climbs the Hill
with water for her Jack, called Bill.
Now she's cut both bended knees,
no vinegar will help her heal
as long as people don't feel she's
become a bigger-than-her-husband deal.
State Secretaries should never flash
with pique but being diplomatic
should hide all skeletons that flash
to mind in basements or the attic.

You may recall the seventh rule of "Fight Club": Fights will go on as long as they have to. In this summer of our discontent, fights are spreading like mountain wildfires -- from a town hall in Lebanon, Pa., to one in Kinshasa, Congo. Never before have we had so many tools to learn and to communicate. Yet the art of talking, listening and ascertaining the truth seems more elusive than ever in this Internet and cable age, lost in a bitter stream of blather and misinformation. The postpartisan, postracial, post-Clinton-dysfunction world that Barack Obama was supposed to usher in when he hit town on his white charger, with turtle doves tweeting, has vanished.

Hillary's KO in the Congo on Monday made the covers of both New York tabloids. Using tough hand gestures not seen since "The Sopranos" went off HBO, Hillary snapped back at an African college student who asked about the growing influence of China on Africa and then, according to the translator, wanted to know: "What does Mr. Clinton think?" It turned out that the student was trying to ask how President Obama felt about it. But before he was able to clarify, the secretary of state flared: "Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the secretary of state. I am." This raw, competitive response showed that the experiment in using the Clintons as a tandem team on diplomacy may not be going as smoothly as we had hoped; once more, as with health care, the conjugal psychodrama drags down the positive contribution the couple can make on policy. At Tuesday's State Department briefing, Assistant Secretary P.J. Crowley explained that Hillary was particularly irritated to feel overshadowed by men in Africa, where she is pushing her "abiding theme" of "empowering women."