Thats Jane Sanders on the right. Bernie wasnt asked about her in last nights debate.
  • Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons
  • That's Jane Sanders on the right. Bernie wasn't asked about her in last night's debate.

I've been a fan of Hillary since first grade (truly, you can fact-check this with my parents), and I think that a Bernie candidacy would be an unmitigated disaster for all the reasons he's scoring points with erstwhile manarchists right now, so I watched last night's Democratic debate in a state of hive-inducing stress on Clinton's behalf. Right up until that question was asked. You know the one. This one:

At that moment, I was too angry to be stressed. Because the implication here is that Hillary Clinton somehow owes her success to Bill Clinton, when in fact, the opposite would seem to be true. Here's the always excellent Hillary expert Rebecca Traister, on the ways Hillary has long had to maneuver her political career around her husband:

Hillary deferred her professional ambitions to move to Arkansas so that her husband might pursue his professional ambitions. Her desire to keep her own name was thwarted when her remaining a Rodham was blamed for his reelection loss in 1980; she became a Clinton. As First Lady, she would write, she was forced into what “by definition, [is] a derivative position.” Hillary has spent decades maneuvering her career and her family not only around her husband’s career, but around his personal peccadilloes; she has been called to comment again and again on his extramarital affairs; she has been blamed for them (see the T-shirt “Hillary 2016: Even Bill Doesn’t Want Her”); she has blamed herself for them (“She thinks she was not smart enough; not sensitive enough, not free enough of her own concerns and struggles” to pay enough attention to the stresses her husband was under, Hillary’s late friend Diane Blair reported in her journal about her conversations with Hillary about Bill’s affair with Lewinsky); she has been mocked for claiming that she wouldn’t stand by her man like Tammy Wynette, then criticized for standing by her man in the wake of his impeachment, then regularly reminded that doing so was what enabled her to finally embark on her own political career (“The reason she’s a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around,” said MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in 2008).

Though Bill’s career took precedence over hers, Hillary was given a kind of distaff credit: as his rock, as the brains, as the tough one. “She was very strong, and he needed her desperately,” the Clintons’ former associate Bernard Nussbaum recently told the New York Times. “He would not have been president, I don’t think, without her.”

So… her strength enabled his presidency, but now that she might be president herself, his weakness could imperil her chances.

There's also this—Five Thirty Eight's breakdown of Hillary Clinton's politics, which, oh hey, it turns out ARE NOT THE SAME AS BILL'S, despite constantly being conflated with him.

"A bunch of reporters have recently discovered a shocking truth: Hillary Clinton is liberal!" writes Harry Enten in that piece. Enten comes to the unsurprising conclusion that in large part thanks to people thinking she and Bill are the same person, Hillary Clinton is perceived as less liberal than she actually is:

Clinton was one of the most liberal members during her time in the Senate. According to an analysis of roll call votes by Voteview, Clinton’s record was more liberal than 70 percent of Democrats in her final term in the Senate. She was more liberal than 85 percent of all members. Her 2008 rival in the Democratic presidential primary, Barack Obama, was nearby with a record more liberal than 82 percent of all members — he was not more liberal than Clinton.

Clinton also has a history of very liberal public statements. Clinton rates as a “hard core liberal” per the scale. She is as liberal as Elizabeth Warren and barely more moderate than Bernie Sanders. And while Obama is also a “hard core liberal,” Clinton again was rated as more liberal than Obama.

Sometimes I wonder whether people are confusing Clinton with her husband. Bill Clinton’s statements have been far more moderate. He has also had a more moderate donor base, according to Adam Bonica’s fundraising scores.

Taken in this light, questions about Bill seem especially unfair. And while we're on the subject, first ladies are DEEPLY UNDERRATED in general. It's as if no one has ever heard of Eleanor Roosevelt. Whenever I see Michelle Obama talking about vegetables and stuff, all I can think is, hey, that lady has a goddamn law degree. When is Michelle running for office please? And for that matter, *unpopular opinion ahead* I will go to bat for Laura Bush any day. I get the sense that lady never wanted to be famous, ever, and I consider her to be one of the least reprehensible things about George II.

When it comes down to it, constantly questioning Hillary Clinton about the person she's married to is run-of-the-mill sexism. Notice that Bernie Sanders isn't asked to discuss his wife. Or as Mercury contributor Ben Coleman put it:

How about this? You can ask Hillary Clinton about Bill, but not until you ask Bernie about Jane.