Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review August 26, 1999 /14 Elul, 5759

Chris Matthews

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Suzanne Fields
Arianna Huffington
Tony Snow
Michael Barone
Michael Medved
Lawrence Kudlow
Greg Crosby
Kathleen Parker
Dr. Laura
Debbie Schlussel
Michael Kelly
Bob Greene
Michelle Malkin
Paul Greenberg
David Limbaugh
David Corn
Marianne Jennings
Sam Schulman
Philip Weiss
Mort Zuckerman
Chris Matthews
Nat Hentoff
Larry Elder
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Don Feder
Linda Chavez
Mona Charen
Thomas Sowell
Walter Williams
Ben Wattenberg
Bruce Williams
Dr. Peter Gott
Consumer Reports
Weekly Standard


Bill's guilt fuels Hill's race

Chris Matthews is on vacation. This column is by Dick Morris. -- SHORTLY AFTER his admission of an "inappropriate relationship" with Monica Lewinsky, the president reportedly gave the first lady an "I'm sorry" pin - a gold heart to wear on her lapel. It now appears that this token was only the first of many gifts he has bestowed to expiate his guilt. It was also the only one that came at his expense, rather than at ours.

After Monica, the president had a lot of "I'm sorries" to say. What better way to say them then with the gift of a Senate seat? How better to change the subject than a switch from his guilt to her ambition? The timing of her candidacy, coming right on the heels of his acquittal, makes the whole matter suspect.

It is hard to imagine the politics of an entire state turned on its head and a White House transformed into a campaign machine in a president's desperate attempt to atone for his adultery. It smacks of Henry VIII switching Britain's religion and triggering a hundred years of civil war in order to divorce his wife.

These tokens of his remorse are increasingly less touching and more intrusive. The most recent was his decision to pardon the Puerto Rican terrorists of the FALN. Anyone who doesn't believe the timing, and likely the substance, of Bill's decision was linked to Hillary's courtship of New York's large Puerto Rican vote is too naive for politics.

Some of the president's courtship gifts have been symbolic, like getting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to pose with his wife for a photo, or inviting the Yankees to the White House. Since Hillary's new favorite baseball team had completed its record-setting championship season more than a year before and the photo op was announced only a few weeks after Hillary decided to consider running in New York, the timing was blatantly political. Clinton's conference on Violence and Children at the White House, which featured Hillary in the lead role, also smacks of his ardent desire to show her how helpful he can be.

The president was similarly generous in granting Hillary a place at his side in the ceremonies at Columbine HS. Seizing on the opportunity afforded by the Colorado tragedy, he used the event to promote his wife's candidacy in a way that a president less bent on getting back into his wife's good graces might not have done.

But other of his presents are more substantive. His decision to initiate a federal investigation of police brutality in New York in the wake of the Diallo shootings was blatantly political. What better way to win Hillary's affection than to savage her opponent through the Justice Department? And the president's largesse to New York in federal funding of pork-barrel projects of late should really be counted as taxpayer contributions to her campaign.

Most disturbing has been his willingness to put the power of the presidency at her disposal in campaign fund-raising. From Texas to Nantucket, the first lady may be raising funds by trading on her husband's ability to help those who are helpful to his wife. We won't know for a while, because Hillary contrived to begin her fund-raising after July 1, 1999, thereby avoiding any necessity to report her sources of contributions until just before the end of the year.

A clue to Clinton's attitude came last week, when he told his companions at a dinner party that he had promised Hillary, as he carried her across the White House threshold in 1993, that the 20 years after he left office would be devoted to her career since she had devoted that long to his. Clinton may not be faithful to Hillary, but he is loyal to her - especially now that he has so much infidelity for which to atone.

The gifts keep on coming. The president has virtually signed over the White House staff to the first lady's campaign, ostensibly "on their own time" after rendering 40 hours a week of service to the nation. Of course, this fiction ignores the obvious fact that no one in the White House (since Reagan) has ever worked only a 40-hour week.

To a certain extent, his vigorous support of her Senate candidacy is itself an "I'm sorry" gift.

True, when she considered running for governor of Arkansas in 1990 if Bill did not, the future president went way out of his way to encourage her candidacy. The polls showed that she couldn't win. Hillary seemed to take the news gamely and in stride. Not Bill. He criticized the wording of the questions, the sample size, the geographic distribution of the interviews and a dozen other points as he commissioned a second poll to see if she really couldn't win. "She's always giving things up to help me," he explained as he tried to promote her candidacy.

Still, the Clintons' very, very public reconciliation dates from her formation of an exploratory committee to raise money for the Senate race. Nobody wants to give money to the wife of the president if the marriage is headed for divorce court. The insincerity of their newly kindled romance and the blatant opportunism in her forgiveness are evident only to those who know them best.

Bill is always trying to win Hillary's favor, all the more so after his missteps have caused her pain. The unspoken deal between them is her tolerance for his adultery in return for his advancement of her career goals. In asking her forgiveness for the ultimate cheating, he offers the grandest of prizes: a seat in the United States Senate.

It sure beats a heart pin.

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.


08/25/99: The seemingly inexhaustible strength of America's free enterprise
08/23/99: GOP candidates are weak also-rans
08/16/99: Bubba on Bubba
08/11/99: Hillary's agonizing attempts to understand
08/09/99: With warm regards, Richard Nixon
08/04/99: Weicker: real third party is on the Left
08/02/99: Dubyah's last hangover
07/27/99: Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh; capitalism is gonna win

©1999, NEA