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Jewish World Review April 19, 2000 /14 Nissan, 5760

Mona Charen

Mona Charen
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The case against Hillary Clinton --
PEGGY NOONAN is best known for her work as a speechwriter to Ronald Reagan. Her poetic Irish soul matched his like a bookend. Since then, she has turned to book-writing and withdrawn, to a considerable degree, from day-to-day political battles. But with "The Case Against Hillary Clinton,"Noonan has come roaring back with a Jeremiad that's witty, impassioned, and moving. This book is about the Clintons, but it is also about America -- an appeal to her fellow New Yorkers to forbid Clintonism to continue its corrupting course.

Throughout this book, one thinks constantly of the phrase "got your number." That's what Noonan has on Mrs. Clinton. She assesses the first lady's various poses with the experienced eye of a political pro, but also with astute and often funny psychological insight.

Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Senate was launched, at first, on the strength of her status as First Victim. Hillary the long-suffering wife of the philanderer scored far better in the polls than Hillary the co-president, Hillary the health czar or Hillary the Whitewater heavy ever did. But, as Noonan argues, it is absurd to think of Hillary as Bill's victim. She has been his co-conspirator and true partner throughout this presidency. Together, they have demonstrated a willingness to lie, to smear opponents, to accept gratuities (like a house loan, a sweet cattle futures deal or government-paid nannies) as perks of power. And together they have been always been willing to put their own advancement, their own power, above the good of the country.

A vignette fleshes out the true Hillary. Following her "vast right-wing conspiracy" diatribe on the Today Show, Mrs. Clinton turned to an aide and said, "That'll teach em to f--- with us." Mrs. Clinton is often praised for her "toughness." Noonan acknowledges that toughness can be a virtue -- even a necessary one for politicians. But what she sees in Hillary Clinton is more than toughness, it is belligerence.

Her advice in White House meetings has consistently reflected her characteristic anger: screw the Congress, don't appoint a special prosecutor, lose the files, don't settle the Jones lawsuit.

Hillary Clinton has learned to adopt the victim pose, but (and here I insert my view, not necessarily Noonan's) there is something contemptible about a woman -- any woman, but particularly a self-conscious feminist -- who cooperates in destroying the reputations of those unfortunate (mostly lower class) women who are abused by her husband. Hillary Clinton, the pampered daughter of Park Ridge, Ill., Wellesley '69, Yale Law '72 is not above throwing dirt in the faces of Paula Jones and the others for simply telling the truth.

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The most affecting parts of this book are those in which Noonan offers a glimpse of what could have been, of how Mrs. Clinton might have reacted to her husband and to her times if she had been a different, better person -- someone with a dollop of moral sensitivity.

Here's one where she imagines the first lady talking to her husband: "Bill, you were probably no gentleman to Paula -- apologize and get this behind us. Bill, later I'll hit you over the head with a frying pan, but for now, tell the truth about that intern, we can't put the country through months of trauma and embarrassment. Bill, I'm handing over the billing records, and there's something I didn't tell you about Whitewater. Bill, people are walking in here with $50,000 checks and it's against the law and I want it to stop. Bill, I got up for a glass of water last night and there were complete strangers in the Lincoln Bedroom, and if this is how we're raising money then we're doing it wrong. Bill ..."

It is not easy to handicap the New York Senate race. Both candidates have flaws, and the electorate is somewhat unpredictable. But the stakes are extremely high. Hillary Clinton, her friends and supporters admit, is running for the Senate as the first step in her quest for the White House.

Her thirst for attention, adulation and power is unquenchable. But as Noonan says: "Mrs. Clinton should not be given any more power. Because somehow she never helps anybody with it but herself."

JWR contributor Mona Charen reads all of her mail. Let her know what you think by clicking here. Please bear in mind, though, that while all letters are read, due to the heavy amount of traffic, not all letters can be answered.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate