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Gloria Feldt Headshot

Which Greek Tragedy are Hillary and Bill Enacting?

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Help me please: Which Greek tragedy would be the proper metaphor for the political narrative playing itself out before our eyes? If Hillary Clinton loses her presidential bid because Bill's help has become so destructive to her campaign that it is alienating the press and offending African Americans (yes, he who was formerly dubbed "the first Black president"), that would be a tragedy of epic proportions. This is especially poignant, considering how strongly people expected his presence to be positive for her, not to mention a redemption for him.

Perhaps the specter of losing the nomination after being dubbed the putative front runner, or of gaining the nomination in a bitterly divisive nomination contest then losing the presidency, might be likened to a Pyrrhic victory.

Or it might be like a poem I had to memorize for my expression class, back in the stone age when there was such a thing. It was about a king whose soothsayer told him he would end up destroying that which he prized the most. The king in angry disbelief threw his chalice out the window. The chalice struck and killed his only son who happened to be walking by under the window at that moment. (Perhaps someone can help me remember the name of this story, too.)

Hillary has worked so hard and given so much that it would be a similar kind of tragedy if her efforts were deep-sixed not by a charismatic newer-comer who has convinced John F. Kennedy's daughter to regard him as the rightful heir to the Kennedy legacy, but by her closest kin, Bill Clinton, a man whose own life's mythology holds that he was inspired to seek the presidency by his personal contact with JFK in his youth.

I haven't come up with a precisely comparable myth so far. But I'm sure the narrative of destroying that which one loves the most is one of humanity's most recurrent and heartbreaking tragedies, Greek or otherwise.

There's still a chance for Hillary to recoup if she can run this race as Hillary.

But Bill will have to realize he's had his day as president. It's time for him to recuse himself from the spotlight and button his lips. To practice a little impulse control and quit draining the energy away from her. So here's the message to him:

"Go home, Bill, and make fundraising calls. Go to Africa and fight AIDS. Resume going around the world as the beloved senior statesman. Go anywhere but onto the campaign trail for at least the rest of the primary season, except to stand behind Hillary smiling supportively on election nights.

The first woman president has to win or lose these contests on the strength of her own abilities. But you could lose it for her, and that would be a tragedy indeed."