For better or worse, Hillary Clinton's political image is largely dominated by her tenure as First Lady. It seems fairly clear that Hillary was a key, if not the key, advisor to President Clinton on many many issues. And while Tim Russert's questions on documents from the period is not really an attempt to shed light on this, it is rather more of the same gotcha nonsense, it does inadvertently get to a lot of questions about Hillary.
In today's WaPo, Michael Kinsley writes:
[First ladies] must have a better understanding of how the presidency works than all but half a dozen people in the world. One of those half a dozen is Hillary Clinton, who saw it all — well, she apparently missed one key moment — and shared in all the big decisions. Every first lady is promoted as her husband's key adviser, closest confidant, blah, blah, blah, but in the case of the Clintons, it seems to be true.
That seems true to me. But here's the thing – my recollection of the Clinton years had Hillary supposedly playing the liberal in the lion's den of Centrists role in the Clinton Administration. I'll never forget the reaction of Peter and Marian Wright Edelman to welfare reform. Peter resigned his post and Marian Wright Edelman made sure everyone understood how she felt personally betrayed by HILLARY, not Bill. Hillary was to be the liberal conscience of the Clinton Administration. How time changes images. Now Hillary's supposed liberal past is long forgotten. For those who favor DLCism, this is a sign of Hillary's good sense. For those who disfavor it, it proves hillary is a corporatist sellout DLCer. This is a central question about Hillary Clinton. Who could best answer this question? I believe Bill Clinton would be that person. I think it would help us all, and probably mostly Hillary Clinton, if he and Hillary were to discuss her role and views on the Clinton Administration and the issues faced at the time. Release of documents to add to this telling would be even better. I think it is time to tell the story – not of the personal lives of the clintons – but the public policy lives of the the Clintons. Tell us what Hillary did, said, advised and thought. To me it is the most interesting and relevant question of the entire campaign.