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Jewish World Review July 28, 2000/ 25 Tamuz, 5760

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Consumer Reports

Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady -- YOU'VE COME a long way, baby.

Once upon a time our first ladies didn't smoke in public. Now the president calls the New York Post to defend his Senate candidate wife by explaining that while Hillary may swear like a longshoreman, she doesn't use ethnic slurs. Dear commander in chief, how reassuring to know that our first lady can keep pace with Dennis Miller's foul mouth.

The allegation, emerging in Jerry Oppenheimer's new book, is that in 1974, when her future husband had just lost an election in Arkansas, Mrs. Clinton called campaign worker Paul Fray a "Jew bastard." One understands Hillary flying twice around her cage backwards over this loss. She had abandoned Washington, the Ivy League and the Black Panthers to take up with a bumpkin who was enough of a hoser to succeed in politics. The hicks outsmarted the Rhodes scholar and his Wellesley valedictorian girlfriend.

The Clintons are sweating a 26-year-old story, something that should be child's play for the masters of spin. Ironic that the woman who convinced a majority of the nation that there was a vast right-wing conspiracy despite DNA from the semen-stained dress of a mistress should have such a time with a he said/she said allegation that occurred before the Carter administration.

They struggle with the likes of Paul Fray, another one of those Arkansan Clintonian hanger-ons. Fray fits the Clinton friend profile of shady activity coupled with or caused by their teetering near bankruptcy. Susan McDougal, James McDougal, Webb Hubbell, all friends of Bill whose vibes tell most of us "pyramid scheme," were embraced and used by the Clintons. In the film Primary Colors, based on Joe Klein's novel which was based on the 1992 Clinton campaign, two campaign workers who are at the candidate/governor's mansion for Thanksgiving dinner note that they are surrounded by the homeless and shelter occupants who could use baths. One comments that this is the good news and the bad news is that the Stantons' (Clintons') friends will be there shortly.

Despite a quarter of a century in politics and associations with the Fricks and Fracks of fraud, the Clintons have yet to learn one of the great and timeless lessons of morality: Never trust the people you cheat with. Everyone from Gennifer Flowers to Jim McDougal sang like canaries. But the Clintons dodge each bullet by using their credentials, views, and achievements to discredit marginal souls who expended sweat and filthy lucre for the Clintons' financial and political advancement. The Clintons sacrifice others on the altar of achievement.

Bubba does it better
Despite the wicked joy I find in seeing Saint Hillary struggle with the baggage of an ethnic slur against a group whose support she needs to win in New York, I must be philosophically consistent. It is a dangerous practice to regulate speech by drumming folks from society for their words. Hillary and her ilk have been the masters of this odd methodology, using words as a facile test for racists, homophobes, sexists and any other kind of -ists in denouncement vogue. John Rocker was nearly ejected from the planet for remarks about the passengers on the 7 train. Mark Fuhrman's racial epithet from his days as a beat cop in east LA was justification for a jury acquittal of OJ Simpson for two violent murders.

Mrs. Clinton now copes with the inane totalitarian standard she has long imposed on others and whines over the arbitrariness of politically correct language as a measure of sincerity, worthiness, political leanings and fate. It's pure heck when the tables are turned. How odd to hear the Clinton hacks on the MSNBC argument shows saying, "But some of her best friends are Jewish."

While it means that I must defend Mrs. Clinton, a proposition I find nearly as objectionable as my annual mammogram, I reiterate my consistent views on pc language. This silliness is as wrong for Mrs. Clinton as it was for John Rocker. This defense comes knowing that Mrs. Clinton is probably lying in her denial. This defense comes knowing that Barbara Bush or Nancy Reagan facing the same charge would have no leftist defenders.

There is, however, a caveat to my defense. Actions do speak louder than words, and I prefer the portfolio grading approach to intent and soul.

Conservatives who defend Hillary are too gracious. Hillary's actions are consistent with the slur. She chaired the New World Foundation when it gave a $15,000 grant to Grassroots International, a group with ties to the PLO.

Her ultra vires view that a Palestinian state was inevitable (retracted when she began her Senate run) was not a slip of the tongue. Such a thought, when Palestinians teach that the Holocaust never happened, is morally offensive.

She uttered it as a first lady known to have a say, indeed some say control, in her husband's actions. Her hug and peck on the cheek of Suha Arafat (Yasir Arafat's wife) following Mrs. Arafat's bizarre accusations in a tirade against Israel was inexcusable. Embracing someone who just defamed Israel?

Is it any wonder Hillary's Bill is an ineffective mediator? The portfolio fits the accusation. Her thoughtless actions reflect a lack of respect. Some of her best friends may be Jewish, but she is no friend to the Jew.

Hillary now squirms under the left-invented test of pc. Let her experience the feelings of injustice the language test creates. More importantly, let her explain actions that bespeak the truth of that hostile slur. Then let our first lady clean up her longshoreman language. Dolly, Eleanor and Martha would have wanted it that way. So would Jackie, between puffs.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


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© 2000, Marianne M. Jennings