Hillary Clinton has an amazing idea for how to revitalize the American economy -- invent another Internet.
Sharing her bright idea at a campaign stop, the former secretary of state told voters that if she wins the presidency, she'll put husband, former President Bill Clinton, in charge of fixing the country's ailing economy "because, you know, he knows how to do it," according to The New York Times.
The main ingredient to bringing back the bullish late 1990s, when the stock market was soaring and regular Americans were earning tidy profits off of companies like AOL, is to invent another all-encompassing communications platform that will fundamentally change the way people interact with each other and leave a mark on almost every aspect of daily life.
Really, that's all there is to it. Simple. Al Gore ought to be able to repeat his startling feat of innovation, especially if his good pals the Clintons are doing the asking.
That must be what the former first lady is talking about, because the Internet bubble was the primary driving force behind those halcyon days of shared wealth. Bill was a beneficiary of circumstance, riding the wave of popularity and receiving the credit as venture capital firms pumped absurd amounts of money into startups when no one had a clue how to monetize online products. The bubble conveniently lasted until the end of his presidency, and he was never really associated with the economic downturn that followed.
No doubt Hillary's proposal was a calculated move based on polling data and advice from campaign strategists, but she should keep Bill away from her campaign and out of the spotlight. He's more likely to hurt her campaign than help it.
First, there's the old-school Clinton selling point of "two for the price of one." Bill and Hillary liked to use that line often during Bill's campaigns for Arkansas governor and for the presidency. It might have been a positive for a while, but nowadays it conjures up memories of all they accomplished together -- namely the disastrous crime "reform" package that led to unprecedented rates of incarceration in the U.S., unfortunate moments like Hillary's "superpredators" gaffe, compromises like "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" that aren't flattering in retrospect, and widespread cuts in social service programs.
If Hillary is serious about wooing Bernie Sanders supporters to shore up her base ahead of the general election match-up with presumed Republican candidate Donald Trump, the last thing she should do is remind those voters that she helped her husband put more people in prison and cut support programs for the poorest Americans.
There's also the thorny issue of sharing the spotlight. If there's one thing people know about Bill Clinton, it's that he loves to be the center of attention. He loves to work a room, to bask in attention, to have all eyes on him while he charms people with amusing anecdotes. But he's also prone to putting his foot in his mouth, like his late March misstep when he spoke about "the awful legacy of the last eight years," appearing to criticize President Barack Obama.
That could become a major problem for Hillary's campaign if voters start to see the prospect of her presidency as a third term for Bill. It could also backfire if voters think Hillary can't handle the economy on her own.
"Strong as @billclinton's record was, @HillaryClinton was ill-advised to pitch him as Econ czar. Folks will be looking to HER for that!" former Obama advisor David Axelrod tweeted on May 17.
But most of all, by declaring another "two for one" package and making Bill a partner in her potential presidency, Hillary is practically inviting Donald Trump to continue hammering her on her husband's many well-documented indiscretions.
As ABC News notes, Trump wasted no time responding to Hillary's declaration that her husband will repair the U.S. economy. Within hours, the businessman was tweeting about Bill's failures and sharing memes reminding voters of his impeachment.
More recently, the former New York senator tried to play it off as if she was taking the high road by refusing to respond to Trump's barbs about her husband's behavior. It was similar to the defense used by some candidates when opponents drag their spouses and children into political debates.
But Bill isn't a spouse or a child, he's a former president. If he's out there campaigning for his wife, he's a valid target of criticism. If he's trumpeted as a partner in a future Hillary Clinton presidency, it would be remiss of Trump and Republicans not to attack him -- and they have a lot of ammunition, more than enough to fuel the next six months of campaigning.
Like other past presidents, Bill has enjoyed the good will that comes from leaving office. People tend to view the past through rose-colored glasses, and it's easier to feel positive or at least ambivalent about a president when he's a decade removed from office and all the controversies that went with it.
But bringing Bill back and making him a centerpiece of the campaign is not only inviting criticism, it serves as a reminder of all the things voters didn't like about the Clintons -- their underhanded tactics, their bad policies, their long history of acting as if the rules don't apply to them. That's not going to help Hillary win over progressive Democrats, and it's not going to help her win the White House.