Notable Quotables - 01/22/2001


Eight Years of Fawning Over the Clintons


"If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners...Thank you very much and tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and were pulling for her."
- Dan Rather at a May 27 meeting of CBS station affiliate's managers, talking via satellite to President Clinton about his then new on-air partnership with Connie Chung as co-anchor.

"There's no doubting that the nation is about to be led by its first sensitive male chief executive. He's the first President to have attended both Lamaze classes and family therapy (as part of his brothers drug rehabilitation). He can speak in the rhythms and rhetoric of pop psychology and self-actualization. He can search for the inner self while seeking connectedness with the greater whole."
- Newsweek Washington reporter Howard Fineman, January 25 news story.

"She's ecumenical but prefers Italian and Mexican. The President fixes her eggs with jalapeo peppers on the weekends. One Christmas she served black beans and chili as part of a buffet. She carries Tabasco sauce wherever she goes....Valentine's Day at the Red Sage restaurant. Even at a romantic outing, the President can be the date from hell, talking to everyone but the girl he brung.... Finally alone, they have 'painted soup' and the lamb baked in herbed bread. They exchange gifts and touch each other more in two hours than the Bushes did in four years."
- Time reporter Margaret Carlson on Bill and Hillary, in the June Vanity Fair.



"To watch this President connect with people emotionally is an awesome thing. It's a raw, needy, palpable, electrifying thing that happens. There was no smile. It's as if he's soaking up the people like he's soaking up the sun, with the warmth pouring deep and direct into his political soul and recharging him, refilling him somehow once again with his own humanity and some sense of his role in the destiny of his country. Then, the hunger slaked, the great beast of Need fed once again, it seemed you could almost see the gratitude pouring off his brow like sweat as he made his way."
- Washington Post reporter Phil McCombs, March 30 Style section story on President Clinton vacationing in California.

"Her [Hillary Clinton] role has been a success. She awakened the nation. She educated the nation. She enlightened the nation....For when a nation gets two leaders for the price of one - a Franklin and Eleanor, a Bill and Hillary - it can tackle twice as many problems, find twice as many solutions, make twice as much progress."
- Former NBC News President Michael Gartner in his USA Today column, September 27.

"Well, it may seem the sheerest act of heresy to say so, but far from being pathologically dishonest, Bill Clinton has been more faithful to his word than any other chief executive in recent memory. He may have skirted the truth about the draft, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and so on. But Clinton has kept his contract with voters. On policy issues, he has done almost exactly what he said he was going to do, despite setbacks and enormous obstacles. And by so doing, he has made himself an excellent President."
- Former Newsweek reporter Jacob Weisberg in New York magazine, September 5 issue.



"I'd like to start, if I may, with what I think you may think is a puzzlement. You've reduced the deficit. You've created jobs. Haiti hasn't been an enormous problem. You've got a crime bill with your assault weapon ban in it. You got NAFTA, you got GATT, and 50 percent of the people don't want you to run again. Where's the disconnect there?"
- Question from ABC anchor Peter Jennings interviewing President Bill Clinton on the January 5 World News Tonight.



"If Ken Starr is a credible prosecutor he will bring this to a conclusion and the Clintons will be exonerated."
- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on independent counsel Ken Starr's investigation, February 10 McLaughlin Group.

"You also quote a letter in [It Takes a Village] that Nelson Mandela wrote to one of his daughters while he was in prison, and I'm paraphrasing a bit, but he wrote that there is no personal misfortune that one cannot turn into a personal triumph if one has the iron will and the necessary skills. You clearly have an iron will, you clearly are skilled. How are you going to turn this personal misfortune into a personal triumph?"
- Question to Hillary Rodham Clinton from Today substitute co-host Maria Shriver, referring to Hillary appearing before a grand jury, January 16.



"His sturdy jaw precedes him. He smiles from sea to shining sea. Is this President a candidate for Mt. Rushmore or what?...In fact, when it comes to influencing the public, a single medley of expressions from Clinton may be worth much more, to much of America, than every ugly accusation Paula Jones can muster."
- Los Angeles Times television writer Howard Rosenberg reviewing Clinton*s Inaugural address, January 22.

"As he begins his second term you may lament that President Clinton leaves little eloquence....He faces personal charges about his conduct in a motel bedroom, and ethical allegations about opening the Lincoln bedroom to the highest contributor. But you come back to the fact that if Bill Clinton isn't always trusted, he has twice been entrusted by the largest responsibility we have to bestow by voters who can have few illusions. Instead they seem to trust that as President Clinton displays his own excesses and frailties he forgives and accepts ours, too."
- NPR weekend anchor Scott Simon, Jan. 19 NBC Today.



"The best chance for Clinton to shine in history might be for Congress to force him to pay the price for lying about sex. In the unlikely event he is pushed from office, it would take only weeks, maybe just days, before a vast national remorse set in. We destroyed our lovable rogue prince of prosperity over this? Clinton would become a martyr to a legal system run amok. His defeat would mean victory over not just sheet-sniffing prosecutors but all those who would criminalize politics with endless investigations. As legacies go, balancing the budget might look puny by comparison."
- Newsweek's Jonathan Alter in the August 24 issue.

"Who has ever been punished more for adultery in this country? I mean, you have to go to Saudi Arabia to see people shamed the way the President was. And I think it was nobody's business."
- Time's Margaret Carlson on NBC's Today, August 19.

"I would be happy to give him [Clinton] a blow job just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs."
- Time contributor and former reporter Nina Burleigh recalling what she told the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz about her feeling toward Bill Clinton, as recounted by Burleigh in the July 20 New York Observer.



"We were talking about - speaking for all women, if I may, Toni Morrison wrote in The New Yorker that Clinton was our first 'black President,' and I think, in a way, Clinton may be our first 'woman President.' And I think that may be one of the reasons why women identify, because he does have a lot of feminine qualities about him: The softness, the sensitivity, the vulnerability, that kind of thing."
- The Washington Post's Sally Quinn on CNN's Larry King Live, March 10.

"She emerged on health care, only to beat a very bruised retreat. She clearly hated being thought of as just Bill Clinton's wife. But ironically, it would take his scandals, finally, to free her. Finally, last November 1998, Hillary Clinton showed the world what she could do on the campaign trail without him. Political mastery, every bit as dazzling as his, the thoughtful speech, unapologetically strong, emboldening Democrats, electing Senators. So her friends say she has really earned this campaign, this moment, if she chooses, earned it by changing herself, searching, stumbling, and at the end, by standing, not by her man, but by herself."
- Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, March 12.

"It's not unlike watching a BMW, fully loaded, the sunroof back, the heated seats, the Blaupunkt speakers blasting. No curves, no spin, a 180-kilometer-an-hour purity of performance. It's December and a press conference in the bowels of the cement box that is the State Department, and up there on the stage, hand jauntily in pocket and press corps in the palm of his hand, the President is wowing 'em again. So you have again the fractured promise of William Jefferson Clinton. Oxford Bill with the political skill set of a veteran Chicago ward-heeler. More intellectually supple than Al Gore without the rent-a-wreck personality. More politically attuned than George W. Bush, and he really reads the books."
- Washington Post reporter Michael Powell in a December 9 Style section story the day after a Clinton press conference.



"You're going to miss that guy. Don't tell me you're not gonna miss that guy. This is a master. He may be a rogue, but he is an artful and pleasant rogue and done a hell of a job as President. I'm gonna miss the guy...He should've been the vice presidential candidate."
- Geraldo Rivera after humming the theme from Rocky over footage of Clinton's pre-speech hallway walk at the Democratic convention, August 21 Rivera Live on CNBC.