In the coming days and weeks, Bill Clinton's impact on Hillary Clinton's campaign is going to be discussed ad nauseam (get your barf bags ready). But here's the question on my mind: Can a family member's behavior really adversely affect your career?
We've all been at the company holiday party where Tom's wife had a few too many glasses of wine and began leading the conga line a little too early in the evening. Or the holiday picnic where Sheila's husband cornered the CEO and began arguing that corporate leaders in America are all a bunch of crooks.
I heard Bill Clinton described this morning by one television reporter as "roaming free," sort of like he was a wild wildebeest who might mow down hundreds of innocent civilians. This was the same Bill Clinton who was nearly canonized by leading humanitarian efforts for Hurricane Katrina and tsunami victims? This was a former president? Roaming free?
If his fall from favor could happen because his behavior reflected badly on his wife's ambition, how might the average Joe fare when his wife gossips in front of his colleagues?
I don't think it's too far out of bounds to talk to a spouse or significant other before a company event to ask them not to reveal anything you've said about work, and to ask them to stick to "safe" subjects. But do you need to ask them not to overindulge, tell dirty jokes, insult the boss or lead the conga line? When do we have the right to dictate how another person behaves, even if it might hurt our career?
And, let's take it one more step: Are your children seen as a reflection of your professional capabilities? Unfair as it may seem, some people will judge you by whether you seem to be raising the spawns of satan or just have normal, energetic offspring.
So, maybe Hillary Clinton should have left Bill at home. Maybe he didn't hurt her chances of getting the Democratic nomination one iota, and it just wasn't her destiny to be the next president.
But the question remains: Can a career be adversely impacted by the behavior of a loved one? And, if it happened to you, what would you do about it?