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The Clinton Co-Presidency

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If the past truly is prologue, then you can find a detailed roadmap to a future Hillary Clinton administration, should there be one, in the pages of Sally Bedell Smith's new book, For Love of Politics.

In 450 pages, Smith dissects the unique political and personal partnership of Bill and Hillary Clinton. "Two for the price of One," was Bill's half-joking campaign slogan in 1992, and that is indeed just what the country got for the next eight years.

Hillary was more than First Lady; she was first counselor in every important appointment and decision over the course of two terms. It was a co-presidency, in which Bill and Hill depended on each other in bad times as well as good.

At times, Smith writes, Hillary was out front, as in the health care debacle. At other times, she was the "hidden hand" behind her husband's major initiatives. Staffers in the Clinton White House referred to her as "the supreme court," who would have the final say on the most controversial matters.

Even during and after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill relied on Hillary for strength, guidance and redemption. Hillary could hardly have been surprised by her husband's dalliance - he had been off the reservation repeatedly during their long marriage - but she was offended when he lied to her and furious at the embarrassment it caused their daughter, Chelsea.

Nonetheless, she not only forgave him, she strategized on his defense against impeachment proceedings and worked with him in the foreign policy arena to rebuild his reputation. Smith makes it clear that this had been Hillary's M.O. for decades when it came to her husband's philandering. Their joint political career and ambitions required nothing less.

So it is safe to assume that this partnership would continue to function under "Madam President" Clinton, if she prevails next November. Bill will be without formal portfolio - the nepotism law prohibits it - but he will be an essential player in every important decision. It will be a third Clinton term and, conceivably, a fourth.

Terence Smith is the former media correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. His website is terencefsmith.com