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Jewish World Review Dec. 21, 2000/ 23 Kislev, 5761

Suzanne Fields

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Consumer Reports

First impressions
of two First Ladies -- EVERY TIME I find myself wanting to give Hillary Clinton the benefit of the dubious decision, she makes it impossible. She's smart without subtlety, audacious without discretion, powerful without a purpose beyond her own selfish interests.

She's a lightning rod, like Newt Gingrich. Unlike Newt, she never pays a price.

Like Newt, she landed a book contract worth millions. Unlike Newt, she won't have to give it back. Nor do you hear fellow Democrats criticizing her. (Surprise. surprise.)

When Newt Gingrich received $4.5 million for a book contract from HarperCollins, owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch, he was investigated by the House Ethics Committee and excoriated by Rep. David Bonier. "He hasn't even been sworn in as speaker;'' cried Bonier, "and he's already begun to cash in.''

The House Ethics Committee did not find him guilty of ethical breaches, but they condemned him for "giving the impression of exploiting one's office for personal gain'' (italics mine). Bonier suggested that Murdoch had given Newt a Christmas present that would be repaid in kind in later legislation affecting Murdoch's media properties.

Has anyone heard a Democrat suggest that Hillary's $8 million book contract from Simon & Schuster, owned by Viacom/CBS, which could be affected by legislation later, as "giving the impression of exploiting one's office for personal gain''? Will Hillary recuse herself from votes affecting Viacom/CBS?

Hillary Clinton has been exposed as something of a gold digger before, most dramatically when she made a quick $100,000 killing in cattle futures trading, with lots of help from one of her husband's wealthy campaign contributors in Arkansas.

But that was a long time ago, of course. She was elected senator from New York in a fair election and is in a good position to move back to Washington as a senator with, if not a clean slate, at least a new slate. But since her first act was so extravagantly self-aggrandizing, she erased in an instant any good feeling she may have had coming.

For $8 million she will sell her personal feelings in a book about being first lady, which according to the New York Daily News will include details of her innermost thoughts about betrayal by her husband. She's certainly not getting that kind of money to describe trips to India, her views on China trade or why she changed chefs at the White House.

Maybe Hillary has spent too much time in Hollywood with her begging bowl, forgetting she is supposed to be first a first lady. She acts more like a movie star leading a tabloid life. What a wonderful opportunity she had to dampen public suspicion. Instead she continues to feed the suspicion.

We don't know much about Laura Bush yet, but what we do know is that she isn't bitchy. She's been a governor's wife for almost eight years and she has made public and private issues her own. As a librarian-teacher, she wants every child in America to learn to read. As a wife, she was largely responsible for boosting George W. onto the wagon after years of heavy drinking. Their relationship suggests mutual respect and independence that's neither condescending nor patronizing.

The first lady's job, as we all perceive it, is something of a Rorschach test. We want her to reflect her own personality and capability with dignity that reflects honor on her, her husband, and the United States.

But the Bushes, like the Clintons before them, arrive in Washington with vivid reputations. We're meeting George W. after his bad-boy drinking days are over. Bill Clinton arrived in Washington in a swirl of "bimbo eruptions.'' Hillary was the feminist who put down the little ladies who baked cookies and served tea. Laura arrives with rave reviews for her years as first lady of Texas.

Hillary complains that she never enjoyed a "zone of privacy'' as first lady, but that was her doing after she jump-started her husband's campaign with a theatrical turn on "60 Minutes.'' Hillary's zone of privacy has always been determined by the stakes at hand, a question of price and who would pay it. A book contract worth $8 million makes cattle futures small potatoes. And that's no bull.


12/18/00: Challenge for the 'better angels of our nature'
12/14/00: What we've lost sight of
12/13/00: Hillary in the lion's den
12/08/00: Return of the 'second sex' on campus
12/04/00: Politics as entertainment today
11/30/00: Winner vs. whiner
11/27/00: Measuring against history
11/23/00: Memories of Thanksgiving past
11/17/00: In defense of the Electoral College
11/16/00: More than one way to win an election
11/13/00: Sexual politics squared
11/09/00: A Middle East legacy
11/06/00: Filling in the dots at campaign's end
11/02/00: His own man in full
10/30/00: The Oval Office, through a glass brightly
10/23/00: There'll always be an England. Maybe.
10/19/00: The celebrity candidate
10/16/00: 'Ladies night' at the second debate
10/12/00: Gore vs. Bush: Volvo vs. Maserati
10/10/00: We weep for Rami for he is dead
10/05/00: Looking at Lieberman from inside the 'ghetto'
10/02/00: Campaigns, candidates, and kissy-face
09/28/00: Laughing and crying over Joe Lieberman
09/21/00: Targeting teenagers for money
09/21/00: Sexual politics in New York
09/18/00: Surviving the stereotypes and debates
09/14/00: Gloria Steinem runs cheerfully into captivity
09/12/00: Sex in the eye of the partisan
09/07/00: 'Sex and death' on the college campus
09/05/00: Joe Lieberman as a 'Menorah Man'
08/31/00: Rising suns of the conventions
08/17/00: Changing icons: From Loretta Young to Hillary Clinton
08/14/00: The Creator returns to the public square
08/10/00: Bursting with pride, but caution too
08/07/00: Brains, beauty and beastly politics
08/03/00: A candidate with a superego
07/31/00: The sizzling Lynne Cheney
07/27/00: The party of the aging Playboys
07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
07/20/00 Conservatives gone fishin'
07/17/00: Snoop Doggy Dogg was a founding father, wasn't he?
07/13/00: When a teenager doesn't need a prime minister
07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink

©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate