Jewish World Review Aug. 9, 1999/ 27 Av 5759
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- BEING DYSFUNCTIONAL has become such a badge of honor during the Clinton era that the Clintons wanted to make sure they got a piece of the action.
You are probably thinking, "Oh no, not another column about Hillary's interview." Sorry. Duty calls.
First, let's get the chronology straight.
Day One: The national media reported that First Lady Hillary Clinton suggested in an interview for the inaugural issue of Talk magazine that her husband's marital infidelities were caused by psychological abuse he suffered as a young boy.
Day Two: White House Press Secretary Joe Rodham Lockhart confirmed that "the president generally agrees with the sentiments that the first lady expressed and with the fact that she did the interview and ... expressed these views."
Day Three: Hillary Clinton's spokeswoman, Marsha Berry, said that Hillary's remarks had been misinterpreted and that she does not blame her husband's marital infidelity on the tumult of his childhood.
Such a familiar scenario: The White House throws out a trial balloon to gauge public reaction, receives a negative reaction and immediately withdraws it.
Judge her first day comments for yourself: Mrs. Clinton said her husband "was so young, barely four, when he was scarred by abuse. There was terrible conflict between his mother and his grandmother. A psychologist once told me that for a boy, being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation."
There is no question that Hillary was excusing her husband's behavior with her initial remarks. But that was not her primary purpose. Her main goal was to justify her own behavior, not his. After all, she's the candidate now, not him.
Though the trial balloon burst, its essential function was still accomplished. Not bad for a withdrawn statement. But we should expect no less from the First Manipulators.
Hillary made the remarks in an effort to preempt damaging questions during the thick of the Senate race and to validate herself.
You will recall that back when Bill did need the excuse, Hillary was dutifully there to provide it. Then, his behavior was a fabrication of the vast right wing conspiracy. Now, it's his mama's fault.
Given Hillary's schizophrenic history of bouncing back and forth between her dual images as victim and vixen, it was important that she thread the needle on this one.
To avoid the taint of her husband's degenerate character, she offered an excuse for it. But to simultaneously ensure that she would not lose favor with her feminist buds, she established that she was ultimately in control of the situation the entire time. That is, she chose to stay with him because of his helplessness. She turned him into a victim and herself into a saint.
With this little scheme, Hillary gets to have it both ways. She retains her popularity -- enhancing victim status with non-feminists, but discards it for her macho female compatriots.
Of course it is laughable that Hillary would assert a claim to Bill's fidelity, which she forfeited long ago. She's known about his predatory behavior for decades and has enabled it for the sake of her own ambitions. We need no further proof of this than her reaction upon learning about Monica. She went ballistic, slapped his face and demanded, "how could you have been so stupid, you (expletive)." Doesn't sound like a woman scorned to me. Her anger was not that of a woman scorned, but of a co-president devastated by the damage to the co-presidency.
But the real story here is the obscene extent of this couple's self-absorption. Hillary, like her husband, will let nothing get in the way of her political pursuits. If it helps her Senate prospects to air the family's dirty linen, she won't hesitate. It's bad enough to sacrifice your friends at the foot of your political altar, but it's stooping indescribably low to denigrate your mother (and mother in law) for your personal ambitions.
For those of you suffering from the illusion that Hillary's character is superior to Bill's, just remember that if she's willing to sell out family in her quest for self-aggrandizement, she'll sell us (and New Yorkers) out too.
P.S.: Preliminary post-interview polling reveals that her
little scheme may have worked. She's closed the 10-point
08/04/99: What would you do?