Friday 28 November 2014

Gerard O'Regan: Bill may be weakest link in Hillary's march to White House

Gerard O'Regan

Published 13/02/2014 | 02:30

Former US President Bill Clinton and Liz Hurley
Bill and Hillary Clinton

Liz Hurley, the 48-year-old one-time model and sometimes actress, has certainly had an eventful few weeks. The gossip columns have it that she and a former fiancee might be about to 'hook up' once again.

(For those who may be vague about such matters the man in question is former Australian cricketer Shane Warne. The couple got engaged in 2011 but had a parting of the ways in December.)

And the bad weather has also been causing her some problems. A few days ago she returned from a skiing jaunt in St Moritz only to find some pipes had burst in her 13-bedroom £6m pad in the English countryside.

Almost immediately she tweeted her 425,000 followers: "This is turning into the Winter of Discontent in so many ways. Shivering now as the central heating broken. Sob.''

But all these were minor incidentals compared to last week's allegation that she had a year-long affair with former US President Bill Clinton.

And although it was all a pack of lies, the story, complete with a photograph of Bill and herself at a fancy dress event some years ago, spread like wildfire around the world. It also resurrected some unsavoury old images of the Clinton era in the White House.

But the fascinating backdrop to all this is the ever increasing speculation that Hillary Clinton is quietly preparing behind the scenes for an all-out bid to become the next president of the United States.

Coincidentally, this week also saw the release of classified papers, which suggest she was much more privately supportive of Bill over the Monica Lewinsky affair, than was previously thought.

In any case, despite her refusal to state whether or not she will run for president, Hillary remains very much the number one candidate for the Democratic Party nomination. But the more perceptive political pundits argue there are many unknown political banana skins along the way that could derail her entire campaign.

Accordingly, there are those who believe it's best Bill is kept out of things on the grounds that he is "accident prone'' and has "baggage''.

But given the temperament and instincts of the former president, this may prove extremely difficult. He surely will want to be involved right at the cutting edge. Whatever the nature of their personal relationship, the Clintons' mutual love affair with politics remains undimmed.

Already some of their opponents in the Republican Party, desperate to get their candidate into the White House after the Obama years, have made it clear they intend to "fight dirty'' if confronted with what they term the "Clinton brand''.

Only a few days ago, Republican Senator Rand Paul tried to dredge up the Lewinsky affair from way back in 1998 in a clear attempt to cause political damage.

Meanwhile, the Clinton camp has already dismissed suggestions Hillary will be too old to take on board the most powerful job in the world. They argue that clocking up over one million miles in air travel, during her period as Secretary of State in the Obama administration, is evidence of her good health and stamina.

If she becomes president she will be 69 – the same age as Ronald Reagan – the previous oldest incumbent in the White House.

But stepping down from the Obama government has provided her with an unrivalled opportunity to recharge her batteries, and it seems she has deliberately kept a relatively low public profile in recent months.

As often happens in politics, she may become victim to what seems like an already unstoppable momentum. According to the latest opinion poll, she holds a commanding 6-1 lead over any of her competitors for the Democratic party nomination.

Meanwhile, the Republicans remain deeply divided with no clear front runner, although Jeb Bush, brother of former president, George, seems to be making some ground.

Hillary Clinton's last public comment on whether or not she will run was on US television in December when she said: "I haven't made up my mind. I really have not. I will look carefully at what I think I can do and make that decision some time next year."

And if she is elected as the first woman president of the United States what job – if any – will she give Bill in her government? And how will the dynamic between the couple work out now that she will be 'Commander-in-Chief' of the most powerful country on the planet?

As of now there is no way of knowing for sure if the political world in the US is to be set alight with the Hill and Bill show second time round – this time with the female playing the lead role.

But as for Liz Hurley, we can only hope her romantic life reaches some kind of equilibrium, and that her burst pipes have been properly fixed. Maybe she should also avoid certain fancy dress parties, which in the long run can prove to be more trouble than they are worth.

Irish Independent

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