Bill Clinton as First Gent? He’d break new ground — and maybe a little china.

Bill Clinton as First Gent? He’d break new ground — and maybe a little china.


Bill Clinton as First Gent Lisa Belkin

Illustration: Zina Saunders for Yahoo News

All presidential elections are, by definition, historic, but some break more new ground than others.

And this next one?

“Uncharted waters,” says Dee Dee Myers, who was press secretary in the Clinton White House.

“Historical moment, cultural moment,” says Chris Lehane, a longtime Clinton campaign operative.

Their adjectives were not about the possibility of the first woman in the Oval Office (though yes, they all think that’s a watershed) but rather about the office on the other side of the building, in the East Wing. The election of a woman president would mean that for the first time, the first lady would be … a man.

With all due respect to Carly Fiorina’s husband, the man they have in mind is Hillary Clinton’s, based on the odds. And those who study first ladies are all but giddy at the thought that they might get to watch what he might do with the position.

It’s not just that he would be the first “first man” (some joke he should be called “Adam”), but also the fact that he would be this particular man — a former president, a legendary schmoozer and shaker, with the potential to redefine the (let’s face it, anachronistic) role.

It’s tough to imagine that Hillary Clinton’s spouse will redecorate the White House, as did John Kennedy’s, nor choose new formal china, as did Ronald Reagan’s. What then will he do? Become a kind of shadow secretary of state, swooping in on diplomatic missions? Be his wife’s key cheerleader and arm twister on Capitol Hill? Stay as far away from administration business as possible? Take a page from Shonda Rhimes’s former-first-lady-for-president plot, and brag about the power that comes with being a pillow away from the president? Or maybe follow Frank Fiorina’s lead and retire completely, to play golf and accompany his wife to events? (Seriously, no one who knows him can imagine that one…)

Bill Clinton as First Gent? He’d break new ground — and maybe a little china.

Photo: Bettmann/Corbis

Some who have watched the Clintons for decades say it’s safe to assume this is something the couple has discussed, but probably not in a way they will share with the public. (And, in fact, a campaign spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.) That only enhances the fun of speculating, as some who study the Clintons and others who study first ladies gamely do below…READ MORE