Last week's news was dominated by Hillary Clinton's preposterous claim that her husband's childhood traumas made him the serial adulterer he is. She found it amazing he became this tremendous leader of our country after all the "abuse."
The White House back-pedaled furiously from Hillary's remarks, trying to deny the obvious poor-abused-Bill tenor of her remarks. By week's end, frothing attack dog James Carville was back on national TV, ridiculously offering $100,000 to anyone who could prove the First Lady ever said what she said. (While anti-Clinton media critics rarely, if ever, get air time, when the Clintonistas bash the press, the red carpet is rolled out on the "Today" show.) NBC's Katie Couric calmly read Carville the proof he was wrong again. But chutzpah means never having to say you're sorry.
It wasn't supposed to turn out this way. On Monday morning, ABC put Talk magazine editor Tina Brown and interviewer Lucinda Franks on "Good Morning America" to make Hillary's Orwellian case - war is peace, freedom is slavery, a marriage full of adultery is true love.
Brown said the interview proved the depth of the Clintons' bond. "What you feel is this is a couple who share the passion for the world, for doing good for politics, for making life better for other people. This is their great bond, and it really has brought them together with almost a sort of spiritual intensity."
Franks claimed the marriage "is quite wonderful in its, you know, in its interdependence of conversation, of ideas, of excitement, of chemistry, sexual chemistry." Franks also claimed the adultery's really the fault of star-struck women, because the President is hunky: "I mean, he's a very handsome man, and he looked like a Beatle back in Yale, you can see pictures of him, I mean, he was gorgeous."
Almost everyone in the press missed the biggest headline of this interview. Fox News Channel's Jim Angle noticed "the First Lady is now admitting a history of infidelity by Mr. Clinton, something that both of them have sought so often to deny."
Isn't that the real point? Isn't the real story here that for Hillary now to say that she knew her husband has been an unfaithful charlatan for years - regardless of the reason - proves that she was being dishonest when she joined him in public denials?
The First Lady's answers on presidential adultery have often had a creepy distance, sounding more like the answers of a female Carville than the answers of a wife. Take the famous interview from January 1998 when Hillary blamed the adultery on a vast right-wing conpiracy. NBC's Matt Lauer asked if the President described his relationship with Monica Lewinsky to her in detail. These are the first words out of her mouth: "Well, we've talked at great length, and I think as this matter unfolds, the entire country will have more information." That's not an answer, so Lauer asked again: "Has he described to you what it was?" Mrs Clinton replied with the same creepy non-answer: "Yes. And we'll find that out as time goes by, Matt. But I think the important thing now is to stand as firmly as I can and say that, you know, the president has denied these allegations on all counts, unequivocally. And we'll see how this plays out."
Notice the strange double-talk in here, with Hillary withholding what she was told and noting only what the President claimed publicly? It also gave her political cover, so she could claim last August that she was lied to in January, as if she would have believed it. As if she would have settled for Bill telling her "We'll find that out as time goes by."
Then she threw the grenade, blaming the vast right-wing conspiracy for these awful stories. If she believed that then, she's lying now. If she believes what she's saying now, she was lying then.
Political insiders asked: if Hillary can create this much of a public-relations plague with a servile print interview, imagine what a disaster she could be on live television? But the public isn't quite on the same page. The Talk magazine interview bombed with the political elite, who couldn't abide the classic ultraliberal mantra that everything we do can be absolved with psychological excuses. But in a reliable rerun of last year's rally-'round-the-victim impulse, the potential voters of New York responded by raising her ten points, at least in one poll. Shrewd, very shrewd.
Clearly, the "listening tour," so reminiscent of the Clinton health plan campaign, wasn't exactly lighting up the public. After looking at the polls, perhaps the First Lady will talk less about child vaccination rates and talk more about the "root causes" of the President's relations with Monica, Paula, Gennifer, Juanita, and Marilyn Jo.