Bill Is Houdini, Hillary Is Not

by Bob Schwartz

Bill Clinton is an escape artist. It is fact, not conjecture, that he has gotten away with things that would crush other politicians and public figures.

Hillary Clinton helped enable and engineer some of those escapes, some might say against her best interest and integrity. But doing that, she may have drawn a skewed conclusion. She may overvalue those escapes as feats of engineering and scheming, and undervalue the essential role of Bill being Bill.

Bill Clinton is sui generis in American political history, one of a kind, maybe more so even than Barack Obama. The qualities are hard to describe; charm and charisma fail to completely capture it. He is special, the bad boy who is not really bad, just a little naughty, and no matter what you discover or discover he has hidden, it is nearly always alright. At least alright enough to move on.

Hillary is absolutely sui generis too. But she is no Bill and she is no Houdini. And while it is true that Houdini’s escapes were technical wonders, meticulously planned, that is not what made him the star he was. It was the personality and drama he brought to the stage that enthralled people, so much so that audiences actually wanted him to get into big trouble because they wanted him to get out of it—they needed him to get out of it. In that respect, Hillary is no Houdini. Nor is she Bill.