Jewish World Review Dec. 28, 2000/ 2 Teves 5761
Doesn't take village to see through this
HOLIDAY GIFT-GIVING has produced at least one
unexpected and gratifying surprise -- resolution of the
ultimate mystery: How could she?
As in, how could Hillary Rodham Clinton put up with
the First Philanderer all those years? How could she
keep a straight face in describing The Vast Right Wing
Conspiracy while her husband continued to dishonor
her, repeatedly and publicly? Why, Hillary, oh why?
Now we know. Eight million buckaroos.
Hillary put up with Bill beyond what most reasonable
women would tolerate because not only was there light
at the end of the Lincoln Tunnel -- a likely U.S. Senate
seat -- but, reliably, a pot of gold. Tucked beneath that
stack of missing files that turned up on the first lady's
bedside table, no doubt, was a discreet little diary, the
first scribblings of an international best seller by the
most powerful woman on the planet.
But she shouldn't have. Hillary Clinton's imponderable
power has come from but one thing. Not her Incredible
Intellect; not her ability to schmooze people into believing she cares deeply about
their state even though she's never actually lived there; not her loyalty to family or
devotion to child.
What has made Hillary tolerable -- even likable at times to people who otherwise
opposed her -- was her appearance of class. Throughout Monicagate, she hugged
the high road no matter what the world and her husband dumped on her. She was
above it all.
No more. Accepting an exorbitant $8 million advance for a White House
confessional nullifies the effect of what she proudly accomplished by holding her
head high. Her contract-to-tell tarnishes the image of moral superiority and
confirms instead: Everything's for sale.
Of course, we don't know how much Hillary will actually reveal. Pre-writing, she
has said her book will include a dignified discussion of the events surrounding the
Lewinsky-Lollapalooza. Nevertheless, publisher Simon & Schuster must be
betting people will buy the book on the suggestion, if not the promise, of a little
My own bet is Hillary won't tell enough to justify either the stunning advance we
all covet or even a $4.95 paperback. She'll continue to hold her cards close, to
protect Chelsea, if no one else. Which is to say, her book -- overfinanced,
overhyped and probably overpriced -- will be a disappointment. Such a tease. So
Meanwhile, the advance raises questions about Hillary's ability to perform in the
Senate. Although she squeezed by Senate rules, which allow advances that fall
within what's considered "usual and customary" in the industry, one might
reasonably question whether she can objectively weigh issues in which her
publisher's parent company, Viacom, has a strong interest.
Even if Senator Hillary is neutral in reality, the perception may be that she's been
sleeping with the enemy.
In typical Clintonian fashion, Hillary is technically within legal, if not ethical,
bounds. But to her beloved populist constituency, for whom $8 million is an awful
lot of dough (excepting the Hollywood crowd), she's playing a risky game. As
Caesar's wife knew, you must not only be above suspicion, you must appear to
be above suspicion.
To promise to pawn your deepest pain for $8 million -- a Faustian deal that may
bedevil Hillary in days to come -- is to abandon the high road for a lesser path
and to risk the loss of moral capital for which even $8 million may prove
JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.
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©1999, Tribune Media Services