I’m sure we’ve all seen it several times by now: Hillary Clinton losing her cool on Monday when a Congolese student asked her about Bill Clinton’s view on a foreign policy issue.

YOU WANT ME TO TELL YOU WHAT MY HUSBAND THINKS? MY HUSBAND IS NOT THE SECRETARY OF STATE. I AM. SO YOU ASK MY OPINION. I WILL TELL YOU MY OPINION. I’M NOT GOING TO BE CHANNELING MY HUSBAND.

To “channel” someone must be State Department-speak, since my dictionary refers to channel as a verb as in “to cut or wear grooves or furrows in.” Some say Hillary’s barbed response was a result of “the international shadow cast by her husband.” After all, it was Bill Clinton’s trip to North Korea and his rescue of two U.S. journalists being held by Kim Jong-il’s oppressive regime that captured the headlines. To say that Hillary’s 11-day African trip was bumped to page two by her husband’s humanitarian mission would be a gross understatement.

In fact, even before the Congo dustup, Hillary was showing some degree of choler when she told a television reporter that Bill’s trip “was not in any way a government mission,” and that she apparently had not ever discussed the matter with him.

A close friend of Hillary, Melanne Verveer, an expert on women’s issues, called the Congo episode “psychobabble,” and much ado about very little. It was later revealed that the question posed by the student meant to ask about President Obama’s view on a foreign policy issue, and that the interpreter erroneously substituted Bill Clinton’s name instead.

The biggest flap so far over the incident has been a column by former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor Tina Brown. She blamed Hillary’s flare-up on the African humidity which caused the secretary of state to have a really bad hair day. Then, on top of that, the sullen alpha male she left at home grabs every headline above and below the fold for three consecutive days. Tina Brown’s blog further described Hillary as “invisible,” since she was not a part of President Obama’s Moscow trip to meet Vladimir Putin, nor was she a part of Vice President Joe Biden’s assignment to formulate policy in Afghanistan.

Perhaps the most significant lesson to be learned from all this is the American penchant to trivialize important issues and focus instead on frivolous ones. Why watch “Meet the Press” when you can click on “Championship Wrestling?”

At the pinnacle of the Monica Lewinsky affair, before Bill Clinton admitted having an “improper relationship” with the then 22-year-old intern, the White House staged vignettes of Bill and Hillary holding hands while walking in the surf, and dancing together on the beach. Perhaps it is time one again to revive that old citation: “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

CHASE HAMIL

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