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If Hillary Clinton prevails over Donald Trump, will Bill Clinton be the First … Gentleman?

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton arrive at Temple University in Philadelphia on July 29, 2016

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Former President Bill Clinton campaigns for his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center in Cincinnati, Feb. 12, 2016. Image source: VOA
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Sept 07, 2016: Come January, there could be two presidents in the White House. That is, at the polls November 8.

The second president would be Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, who would take on the role as … first lady? First spouse? First man?

At this point, we don’t know. The protocol for the first-ever scenario is really guesswork.

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“There are no precedents,” said Allan Litchman, professor of history at American University in Washington, D.C. “But certainly he should not be called the first lady. He should be called the first gentleman, of course.”

FILE - Then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton are shown in Washington in 1994. Image source: VOA
FILE – Then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton are shown in Washington in 1994. Image source: VOA

In the United States, a first lady traditionally maintains a low profile and a quietly supportive role. Historically, first ladies adopt a non-controversial policy initiative; just think of first lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to reduce childhood obesity. It’s an issue that the vast majority of Americans can support.

Hillary Clinton tried a different approach, taking on the overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system, a very complex, controversial policy issue with many stakeholders. Ultimately, that effort failed.

The Clintons have already indicated that Bill Clinton will relinquish his role at the Clinton Foundation to avoid any appearance of conflicts of interests.

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So, what role might he take on should he become America’s first-ever first gentleman? Will he host teas or choose the White House decor?

“He’s going to have to learn,” Lichtman said. “And I think he can at the age of 70. He’s certainly smart enough to figure all of that out.”

FILE - Then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton are shown in Washington in 1994. Image source: VOA
FILE – Then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton are shown in Washington in 1994. Image source: VOA

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton arrive at Temple University in Philadelphia on July 29, 2016. (AP)

But Clinton is a known “loose cannon,” Litchman points out. And if he overshadows his wife, the president (if she is elected president), Litchman says that could cause problems.

“Whether he can keep himself under control is the bigger and much more interesting question,” he said. (VOA)

 

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Brown: The colour of toil but non-acceptance across the West?

"This is now our destiny as brown people. Our labour is needed, but citizenship is denied."

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Police Chief David Brown. Image Source: Twitter
  • Kamal Al Solaylee’s book Brown highlights the problems of ‘brown’ people in Trump’s rule
  • Donald Trump is often accused of malingering the image of brown people
  • this book cites many examples of discrimination which brown people go through

Title: Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (to Everyone); Author: Kamal Al Solaylee

All our social development and our technological advancements don’t seem enough to eradicate our long-persisting atavistic sense of difference based on appearance, which though long-suppressed is now emerging free from its restraints — as proved by the recent intemperate comments by US President Donald Trump on immigrants from a certain set of countries.

Trump’s thinking, as seen in his off-the-cuff remarks, underscore that the questionable classification of race, expressed by the obviously evident and inescapable feature of a person’s skin, is well alive — and extends beyond the white-black binary. What about the yellow, or rather, the (as necessary for the global economy but far more exploited) brown?

Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons
Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons

Trump is only one leading manifestation of the malaise facing brown people — which include West Asians, Latin Americans, North Africans, and South and Southeast Asians — and far beyond the West too or from the “Whites”, says Yemeni-origin, Egypt-bred, Canadian journalist-turned-academician Al Solaylee in this book.

Trump’s victory “largely (but not exclusively)” rode on demonising Mexicans, galvanising sentiment against Muslims and championing white nationalism, the vote for Brexit was mostly pioneered by those with a restrictive view of Englishness, the record of Canada under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives — all these are obscure racial conflicts brewing in the US and Europe for decades now.

Also Read: Mexico can learn about dealing with diaspora from India: Claudia Ruiz-Massieu Salinas

“Examine these tensions closely and you’ll find a strong anti-brown sentiment at the core,” says Al Solaylee as he traces the response to, as well as the experiences of, the residents of Global South, who are forced to migrate to — and much needed in — the Developed North for various reasons, not least of which is the latter’s colonial record.

“Brown as the colour of cheap labour continues on a global scale… brown bodies undertake the work that white and older immigrant Americans refuse to do (and those black slaves were forced to do in previous centuries).

These are low-skill, labour-intensive jobs in unforgiving climates,” he says, but also that these are not limited to the Western nations but also in the more affluent parts of Asia itself too.

“This is now our destiny as brown people. Our labour is needed, but citizenship is denied; our presence as Muslims or religious minorities is offered as an example of the tolerant, diverse societies in which we live, but we continue to be feared,” says Al Solaylee.

And there is no difference whether this is deliberate or mistaken as he goes to cite the cases of the racist slurs on Sikh volunteers feeding the homeless in Manchester in the wake of the May 2017 terror attack, or the fatal shooting of Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla in the US in February 2017 by an American who thought he and his friend were Iranians and screaming at them to “get out of his country”.

Al Solaylee contends we think of brown as a “continuum, a grouping — a metaphor, even — for the millions of darker-skinned people who, in broad historical terms, have missed out on the economic and political gains of the post-mobility, equality and freedom”. They are now living, he says, among former colonial masters where they are “transforming themselves from nameless individuals with swarthy skins into neighbours, co-workers and friends”.

You may also like: List of 50 People who have affected Hinduism in a Negative Manner 

And it is their story he tells — both in their homes from the Philippines to Sri Lanka and workplaces from Hong Kong to the Gulf as well as Western Europe and North America.

Al Solaylee, however, starts with first recounting his own childhood experience on learning he is brown after seeing an English movie featuring a white child and coming to terms with “brownness” in his journeys around the world and interactions with other browns (fairness creams figure largely as well as the concern that he settle down) as well as Brown’s significance in nature and culture.

He then takes up the human obsession with race, despite the concept being debunked, except in politics before his exploration of the experiences and consequences of being brown around the world.

A stirring travelogue, incisive social and political comment and a passionate cry to rise above unavoidable consequences of geography and genes, this invaluable work rises in importance beyond its subject to be a seminal guide to the world today — and what it will soon be — particularly the US. IANS