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Ongoing Puzzle: How Best To Manage Bill

 On its front page today, the WaPo offers up the requisite think-about-all-the-conflicts-posed-by-Hillary-being-Secretary-of-State-and-Bill-remaining-philanthropist-in-chief piece.

Enumerating the challenges posed by such an arrangement, reporters Michael Shear and Philip Rucker note that having Bill so close to the Secretary of State would go against the traditional preference of sitting presidents to keep their predecessors at arm's length. As a point of contrast, they remind us how annoying it was for George W. when Jimmy Carter kept jetting off to diplomatic hotspots such as Syria, Cuba, and the Middle East.

But isn't Bill Clinton at least as likely to cause Carter-like mischief if someone other than his wife is running Foggy Bottom? It seems to me there's an argument to be made that having Hillary at State could serve as a way to exert some measure of control over Bill's meddling. Odds are, Secretary Clinton wouldn't be served well by the public perception that she and her hubby were running some rogue operation in defiance of the White House. Maybe, just maybe, the desire to not screw things up for his wife might actually prompt Bill to behave with an eye toward avoiding the appearance of impropriety. And on those occasions when Bill did misbehave, what Secretary of State would be better positioned to jerk a knot in his tail than the long-suffering Hillary? (Lastly, on a darker note, now that Hil's name has been mentioned for the post, you have to consider the fallout factor: If she wants the job but winds up not getting it, wouldn't Bill, with his highly refined sense of payback and tribalism, be all the more motivated to undermine President Obama at every turn?)

Obviously tapping Hillary for the job would bring with it a bushel of Bill-related headaches. But some of those headaches could prove even more unmanageable if she's not invited to join the new team. As Devon Banks told Jack Donaghy: 'If there's one thing I learned from you, Jack, it's keep your friends close, and your enemies so close that you're almost kissing."


Then again, that whole Jack-in-the-mailroom arrangement didn't exactly play out as Devon intended.

--Michelle Cottle