04/19/2008 05:23 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Bill and Hillary's Biggest White House Stresses Were Self-Inflicted, and Obama Should Say So

The morning after last Wednesday's ABC Clinton/Obama debate, Don Imus called Obama "almost a bigger pussy than she [Hillary] is."

Imus is not alone in seeming to want to give Obama, who indeed looked like a seething wimp, a shot of testosterone. The brother of Bill Ayers blogged that Obama's response to Clinton's McCarthy-esque attempt to blacken Obama by marrying him to Ayers (for anyone who hasn't heard, Bill Ayers is the former fugitive, unrepentant bomber, and friend and neighbor of the Obamas) should have been: "Have you no sense of long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" a reference to the best lines of the Amy-McCarthy hearings in 1954 from Army lawyer Joseph Welch as he destroyed the Wisconsin senator.

In this campaign, the oft-used word is not "decency" but "shame," most forcefully deployed by Hillary, before the Ohio primary, when she sounded like everyone's worst memory of a maternal rebuke. "Shame on you, Barack Obama!" she thundered. The scolding was prompted by an Obama flyer hitting Hillary's support of NAFTA during her husband's administration. Her White House schedules, released later, backed the flyer's charges.

Post debate, Bill and Hillary are attacking Obama for "whining" about the debate--Obama, for once, took most of the tough questions--and Hillary is using the famous Harry Truman line, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." She adds, presumably for those who don't see her as the model of domesticity, "Speaking for myself, I'm very comfortable in the kitchen..." (Last week, while promoting herself as a gun lover and a church go-er, Hillary was asked, "When was the last time you hunted?" Not relevant, she answered. "When was the last time you went to church?" Easter, she answered. No reporter could or should ask her, "When was the last time you cooked dinner?" But a reporter might ask her to explain what she means by "comfortable in the kitchen.")

In an attempt to remind audiences that she has White House experience (a line decimated by her lie about taking sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia in 1996 accompanied by her daughter and by two entertainers), she has been telling voters that she knows how much stress the President experiences. She was there. She lived it. She survived it. She adds that if Obama thought those questions from George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson were difficult, wait until he's hit with the real thing.

Obama's response could be: Bill and Hillary Clinton were under the most stress--unbearable, dangerous stress--when the news of Bill's affair with Monica Lewinsky broke in January 1998 and impeachment resulted; a self-inflicted, self-indulgent wound that occupied the last three years of Clinton's presidency and made him, in effect, a one and a quarter term president.

The rookie Senator from Illionis could pledge to voters that the pressures of the Oval Office that he'll experience will relate to the huge challenges of domestic and foreign policy. They'll have nothing to do with the terrible tensions caused by trysts with an intern--the humiliating details of which were published for the world to read--or by the breaking of marriage vows--in the Clinton case, apparently, the vow that Bill would do nothing to damage Hillary's turn to be president.