clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

First Fella? Watch Bill Clinton try to think of a term for a male presidential spouse.

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

This week, former President Bill Clinton taped an interview for the Rachael Ray Show — and Ray caught him flat-footed with a hard-hitting question he clearly had no response to. "There is a possibility that you will return to the White House yet again," Ray said. "I really wanna know, what would you then be called? Would you be ‘First Fella?' Would you be 'Mr. and Mrs. Presidents?'"

Clinton was unprepared, and began by answering an unrelated question, saying, "If the president is a man, you call the president's spouse the First Lady, so we'll have to cross this bridge if a gay couple ever" enters the White House. Then he tried to offer his own response, with a Bible joke: "But let's say, if a woman became president — I could be called Adam. The first man? I don't know."

Ray and the crowd laughed far too hard given the quality of the joke. For some other possibilities, including "First Gentleman" and "First Husband," check out this rundown from Jaime Fuller. And Jonathan Bernstein has some related thoughts on whether Bill should still be referred to as "President Clinton" if there's another, sitting "President Clinton" in the White House.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.