That '90s Show, Starring the Clintons

Hillary's bad flashback

By Robert A. George
|  Tuesday, Aug 11, 2009  |  Updated 5:55 AM CDT
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Hillary Rodham Clinton: The Diplomat

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemingly still gets headaches from Bill Clinton's antics. Hillary's snapping at a mistranslated question in Africa on Monday shows frustration at being seemingly overlooked in last week's release of the US journalists in North Korea.

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"I'm Not Going to Be Channeling My Husband"

A Congolese university student seems to presume that Bill Clinton's opinion is more important than the current Secretary of State's
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After losing to Barack Obama last year -- and then having to go work for him -- one would have thought that some of Hillary Clinton's fabled anger would have come to the surface before now. 

But, of course, the lady usually can hold all these things back -- except when it involves Bill Clinton. 

That truism was on display Monday when the usually unflappable secretary of state just lost it in response to a Congolese student's rather innocent question -- which was actually mistranslated to Secretary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lost her cool Monday after a Congolese student, speaking through a translator, asked her what "Mr. Clinton" thought about a Chinese trade deal with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 "You want me to tell you what my husband thinks?" Clinton replied, clearly irked by the thought of being her husband Bill's spokeswoman.

"My husband is not secretary of state, I am," she replied. "If you want my opinion I will tell you my opinion. I am not going to be channeling my husband."

The only problem? Apparently the translator made a mistake and the student had wanted to know what President Obama thought of the deal. A State Department official tells ABC News the student went up to Clinton after the event and told her he was misquoted.

Oops!

As America learned during the '90s, with the Clintons, you may get a fair portion of competence and skill on the policy side -- but you also get about two parts soap-opera and high drama for every part of the serious stuff. That was true before the Monica Lewinsky saga broke -- though that cultural and political watershed was the greatest manifestation of that trend.  

After six months staying out of the global spotlight, Bill Clinton came back with a vengeance last week as the public point man for the release of journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee from a North Korean prison. The scene at the Burbank, California airport when the Clinton delegation returned was almost a perfect scene of '90s redux: Bill got the headlines (and the girls); Al Gore stood on the sidelines. Only thing was, Hillary was, literally, out of the picture. She was already launching her Africa visit. 

It must have been truly frustrating. As was widely known, the actual deal for the release of the journalists was cut by the State Department -- run by Hillary Rodham Clinton -- well before Bill came on the scene. He was merely the last bargaining chip requested by Pyongyang.  

Yet, one would think -- from the fawning headlines -- that this was a total Bill Clinton production: The Big Dog was back on the scene, bringing good times -- just like the Nineties.  

Hillary thought all this had been behind her. She was no longer "First Lady." She has had three semi-careers in the nine years since Bill left the presidency -- senator, presidential candidate, secretary of state.  And now, in one moment, Bill had eclipsed her again -- after she had done all the hard work!!

No wonder she snapped when she thought she was being turned into a mouthpiece for her husband.   

One person certainly doesn't have nostalgia for the 1990s. 

New York writer Robert A. George blogs at Ragged Thots. Follow him on Twitter.   

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