I'll drive. You ride shotgun.
DISCLOSURE: I'm not sure this is in good enough shape to post. However, since it seems we're heading toward impeachment, I figured I'd better post it fast or it will be moot.
Yesterday, I posted an essay about a life lesson I learned from a Western. This essay is about the other life lesson Westerns taught me: Life is much more fun when someone's riding shotgun: The stagecoach driver can be chill because a-settin' right beside him is a steely-eyed guy with his finger on the trigger of a loaded shotgun.
A modern, everyday example: A husband, his wife and their young son came to visit. The father was allowing as how he believed in minimal parenting. While he held court on parenting, his very young son was lunging at just about every breakable and/or potentially dangerous object in the place. The dad continued talking, pretending not to notice. Not a single thing went awry: Shotgun Rider Mom was all over the boy like Seal Team Six on Osama. Stagecoach Driver Dad also pretended not to notice her efforts. (Of course, the boy far preferred his dad. Kids! Amirite?)
It's not quite the "good cop bad cop" charade, but it's not entirely dissimilar. Those playing the roles of amiable stagecoach driver and on ready shotgun rider may not even realize that they're playing roles. They may just be living in the grooves into which circumstances and/or their basic personalities slid them. Perhaps their respective roles are what attracted them to each other, or what keep them together, or what make them, as a unit, able to function vis-à-vis the rest of the world.
I have noted the combination in siblings, especially, sadly, in a home in which one or both parents are abusive or alcoholic or otherwise problematic for the kids. I have also observed this kind of interaction in couples, and in friends, and in business partners, and in corporate executives and their aides and in actors and their agents. I'm guessing "in your face" Rahm Emanuel rode shotgun for empathetic Bill Clinton and No Drama Obama.
Still don't know what I'm saying? Think Lady MacBeth or check out youtube clips of the Three Stooges, or Laurel and Hardy, even Ricky and Lucy. Perhaps the best fictional example, though, might be the couple played by John Travolta and Emma Thompson in Primary Colors. The husband character pretty much indulges his every whim, from fast food to baby mamas. Meanwhile, his wife struggles to manage him and clean up his messes. He seems charismatic and caring, while his wife seems to be made of little more than ambition. (Any similarity between that film couple and any real life political couple is totally coincidental.)
BTW, no matter how it may seem to onlookers, the Shotgun Rider may be the weaker or needier of the duo, having been manipulated into that position by the Stagecoach Driver. After all, life is considerably more pleasant when you get to do pretty much as you please while someone protects you zealously and unceasingly.