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Jewish World Review August 11, 1999 /29 Av 5759

Chris Matthews

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Hillary's agonizing attempts to understand -- IF THE TRUTH HURTS, this is the city with the lowest threshold of pain. Hillary Clinton offers the candid remark that her husband's behavior might be connected to certain family conflicts at an early age.

Fearing disaster, the White House "war room" sends out the orders to search and destroy. Leading the charge is James "The Ragin' Cajun" Carville, who has offered a reward of $100,000 "to any reporter who can show that Hillary Clinton linked the president's sexual misconduct with his childhood."

I suggest that Carville give first dibs on his jambalaya jackpot to Lucinda Franks, the Talk magazine reporter who, unlike him, actually was present when the first lady spoke of the tensions between Bill Clinton's mother and grandmother that she believes "scarred" the future president.

In point of fact, Franks is quite clear on the link the first lady was making about what happened to Clinton at age 4 and what Carville calls "the president's sexual misconduct."

Franks said, "I asked her the question that everyone wants to know: Why is she staying with this man who has betrayed her so many times?

"She answered that this betrayal has roots in a childhood that was so chaotic it is remarkable that he is able to get up every day and do what he does. I think her ability to forgive him for his sexual compulsions, his addictions, is because she knows the kind of family background he came from.

"And I think she has consulted psychologists who have told her that someone from that background, unless they have therapy and intensive therapy that he has not been able to have, will act out in that particular way.

"I think she was saying to me this explains why she can forgive him, why she can separate his behavior from his love for her, and that his behavior is rooted in lust and pathology where his love for her is enduring.

"We have marriages where there are needs and lacks and all sorts of strange connections. So why should the first lady and the first couple be held to these strict Ozzie and Harriet standards?"

What on G-d's earth is wrong with that?

How can anyone, certainly any married adult, not empathize fully with Hillary Clinton's deep-seated desire to understand her husband. Clinton? She loves the guy. She believes he loves her.

She sees how he behaves and betrays. She tries to find an explanation in her husband's emotional development.

We can buy Hillary's hypothesis or debunk it. What we can't do is deny the human riddle she's trying so desperately to solve: how this guy she loves can bring her so much pain.

"He was so young, barely 4, when he was scarred by abuse that he can't even take it out and look at it. There was terrible conflict between his mother and his grandmother," she told Franks in the interview.

"A psychologist once told me that for a boy being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation," she continued. "There is always the desire to please each one."

What are we supposed to believe the first lady was talking about here? The boss's "one China" policy?

JWR contributor Chris Matthews, chief of the San Francisco Examiner's Washington Bureau, is host of "Hardball" on CNBC. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


08/09/99: With warm regards, Richard Nixon
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08/02/99: Dubyah's last hangover
07/27/99: Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh; capitalism is gonna win

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