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 Hillary’s Abiding Commitment 

June 10, 2003

The Clintons are back in the news, which would be more bearable if only they hadn’t brought the Clinton-haters with them. Unavoidable, of course. To this day neither Bill nor Hillary seems to understand why they are so annoying to so many people, separately and as a couple.

Mrs. Clinton has finally published her memoir — maybe you’ve heard about it — in which she explains why their troubled marriage has endured. Among the reasons she offers are their “common faith and our abiding commitment to our country.” Either that makes you gag or it doesn’t. For me it summons memories of Bill escorting her to church, clutching his Bible. Faith. Commitment. A girl waiting in the Oval Office.

All politicians talk like that, of course. Seeking and holding office is called “public service,” though it’s generally a career of self-service that would bore most of us to death. It also requires episodes of debasing self-exposure such as Hillary is now performing to promote her book, which in turn will promote her career.

The book is already disappointing — or rather satisfying — the Clinton-haters. It apparently takes the modified limited hangout approach to all the hot, or reheated, questions about Whitewater, the Rose Law Firm, the death of Vince Foster, the last-minute pardons, the looting of the White House, and of course the Monica episode. Hillary still insists that she believed Bill’s denials until he finally retracted them.

I must say I’ve long since lost interest in all these matters. It would be too much to say I’ve come to admire the Clintons, but I have learned to accept them for what they are. Bill is one of the great con men of American history, and Hillary, an ambitious girl, went along for the ride. Did he con her too? Methinks not. She was his accomplice, his accessory, his co-conspirator. She shares, in addition to his abiding commitment to our country, some of his catlike ability to land on his feet. She just lands a little harder, that’s all.

[Breaker quote: Sticking it out with Bill]The Clinton-haters, like the Clintons, are generally baby-boomers; they regard the Clintons with the special resentment one feels for the classmate who achieves great success by throwing ethics to the wind. You know he did something crooked, he’s phony as a three-dollar bill, but you can go nuts trying to catch him out. He knows all the angles, and he’s too smart to get caught. It’s his simulated pieties — that Bible, the references to the Kennedys and Martin Luther King — that may make you apoplectic, unless you can just relax and savor the comedy of it all.

The joke’s on us. Here is a man who has never held a real job (and avoided going to his generation’s war) yet who won the presidency of the United States while still young; who is chauffeured in limousines; who makes millions of dollars with ease; and who has all the women he wants, while still married to his first wife!

If that isn’t success, I don’t know what is. The American Dream, 2003! And Hillary shares it, because she has never dissociated herself from him. Her patience is finally paying off. Some people think she should have ditched him long ago, but this is a rather moralistic and humorless position to take. Yes, she could have been, had she chosen, the ex-wife of a former governor of Arkansas who went on to become president.

But how much would her memoirs have commanded in that case? What would have been her chances of winning a U.S. Senate seat? (In New York, not Arkansas!) In peddling her book, she is publicly recalling how she agonized over whether to stay married to Bill, weighing her dignity against that abiding commitment to our country ...

No, with a sure instinct Hillary stuck it out. And with a touch of Bill’s own genius for the rhetorical currency of the age, she did it while posing as a feminist. Being a strong woman. Keeping her own identity. Staying in touch with her inner Rodham.

Why should Rogers dump Astaire? It’s a great partnership, even for the junior partner. Sure, it helped Bill, but it hasn’t done her any harm either. It is not good that Bill should be alone, and destiny has provided him with an help meet for him.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2003 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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