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Jewish World Review July 20, 2000 / 17 Tamuz, 5760

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg
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Consumer Reports

Hillary slur speaks volumes -- AS EVERYONE KNOWS by now, a new book reports that Hillary Clinton said, "You f***ing Jew bastard!" 26 years ago to a campaign aide. Jerry Oppenheimer, the author of the book, "State of a Union: Inside the Complex Marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton," cites three sources who heard the remark.

Personally, I think that it's entirely plausible, if not probable, that she said it. Hillary Clinton is renowned for having an explosive temper and more than a passing familiarity with profanity. "She might have called him a (bastard)," Bill Clinton told the New York Daily News. "I wouldn't rule that out. She's never claimed that she was pure on profanity."

Quick tip: When the president of the United States admits that his wife - a candidate in a tight Senate race - doesn't have a "pure" mouth, that means she curses like a sailor with a parking ticket.

Even though I think she said it, I don't care very much. We all say things in private moments that don't tell our whole stories. What is revealing, however, is how people respond to the allegation.

The New York Times - America's self-appointed arbiter of who is or isn't an anti-Semite - ran an editorial exonerating Clinton. "(The) circumstantial evidence inclines us strongly toward believing Mrs. Clinton when she says she never used such language," the Times editorialized on July 18.

What "circumstantial evidence"? "The alleged remark took place only a few years after Mrs. Clinton's expansively humanistic commencement speech at Wellesley and soon after she had worked in a sophisticated legal environment for the impeachment of a president, Richard M. Nixon, who did use anti-Semitic language," the Times wrote.

Now, according to this logic, Hillary couldn't have said it because she gave a nice liberal speech more than 30 years ago and because she made her bones by working with a bunch of hyperpartisan Jewish lawyers out to get Nixon. (In case you didn't know, a "sophisticated legal environment" is New York Times-ese for "Jewish lawyers"). I wonder how many "expansively humanistic" speeches Jesse Jackson gave before he referred to New York as "Hymietown"?

More to the point, the two bits of circumstantial evidence work at cross purposes. Richard Nixon did say some awful things about Jews - and a lot of other people - in private conversations. But the public Nixon was an unadulterated friend of Israel. Nixon saved Israel's tuchus in the Yom Kippur War. Henry Kissinger, the first Jewish Secretary of State; Leonard Garment, Nixon's White House Counsel; and William Saffire, his chief speechwriter, were all Jewish and among Nixon's most-trusted advisers.

In this sense, Hillary's speech is irrelevant because we know that a person can say nasty things about Jews in private and do great things for them when it counts, in the same way Clinton defenders know a president can be good on sexual harassment while playing "Baron and the Milkmaid" with an intern.

The more disturbing, though not surprising, reaction comes from the Clintons themselves. At first, Mrs. Clinton tried to suggest that the meeting in question never took place, claiming she didn't remember it. Unfortunately, this typical "I do not recall" denial wouldn't hold after Mr. Clinton jumped into the fray saying, "I was there and (Hillary) never said it."

Calling the New York Daily News - while on a break from Mid East peace talks - Mr. Clinton went on the attack. "(Lazio's people) know if they have to go head to head with her on stature, on accomplishment and on her record, they lose. So the only thing they have left is character assassination."

This is classic. Rick Lazio, Mrs. Clinton's Republican opponent for the New York Senate seat, only recently became a candidate after New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani dropped out of the race. Oppenheimer has presumably been working on this book for several years, and yet the Clintons would have us believe that Lazio has somehow orchestrated the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton has dusted off her "poor me" victim hat. "This kind of false accusation is intended to divide people" she said, making it sound like Oppenheimer is an agent of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

If Hillary Clinton said "you f***ing Jew bastard," I don't think it confirms her anti-Semitism. Rather it confirms what I always have believed: She is a nasty piece of work who will say anything if it will achieve her aims.

A year ago, she said Palestine should be a state because she was talking to Palestinians. These days she says Jews are the greatest thing since sliced matzos because she needs Jews. And, 26 years ago, she probably said "you f***ing Jew bastard" because she wanted to hurt someone's feelings.

What Jewish voters need to ponder is what she might say if the day comes when she thinks she can do without Jewish voters.

To comment on JWR contributor Jonah Goldberg's column click here.


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