The Candidate and Her Companion, American style

A candidate for the presidency with a cumbersome spouse … is it Deja vu? The comparison stops there. Hillary Rodham Clinton is no Segolene Royal [female Frencg presidential candidate]. The senator from New York doesn’t need a Arnaud Montebourg to know that the way in which she manages Bill’s legacy will be a determining factor in her quest for the White House.

[Editor’s Note: Segolene Royal suspended her spokesman, Arnaud Montebourg, last week after he said jokingly on a TV talk show, “Segolene Royal has only one flaw – her partner.”]

With the confidence that eight years as First Lady gave her, Hillary Clinton launched her campaign on Saturday, filling the political void just before President Bush’s State of the Union speech. In order to win the Democratic nomination, the longest pre-campaign ever seen across the Atlantic (it’s 400 days until the nomination … ) and thus to become the first woman to hold the supreme power, she must first overcome an impressive list of competitors, including Barack Obama, a young black senator with a contagious dynamism who has already convinced billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Then, Hillary Clinton will have to persuade Democratic sympathizers and financial contributors and then, if all goes according to plan, the voters, that she is no longer that woman who was indecisive about the war in Iraq, nor the stubborn doctrinaire who failed to reform the healthcare system, nor the cold, distant, calculating person that her opponents love to hate.

She will, above all, have to assess the (Bill) Clinton years, comparing the nostalgia of a flourishing economy against the memory scandal and tomfoolery. Leaning on the exceptional charisma of a husband who is fully devoted to her cause, while making people forget what he put her through. She herself confesses that this will be harder than beating a Republican.

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