Kathleen Parker

Love her or hate her, America can't seem to get enough of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The latest literary examination of the former first lady - "The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She'll Go to Become President" by Edward Klein - has produced an interesting ripple in the Zeitgeist.

Nobody much likes it.

That liberals dislike the book comes as no surprise, but that conservatives are distancing themselves from Klein is interesting. As a former New York Times Magazine editor, part of the liberal mainstream media that members of the VRWC (Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy) love to hate, he would seem a proper new darling for conservatives.

As an apparent crossover, he might have expected a warm embrace. Instead, he got a Baghdad welcome. Short shrift from the natives, in other words.

This rejection from some (though not all) on the right suggests a couple of things:

One, that Americans of all stripes are tired of nasty, and Klein's treatment of the Clintons is reminiscent of a time we're trying to forget. He focuses overmuch on Hillary's alleged lesbianism, for instance (she didn't shave her legs and underarms at Wellesley!), and even writes that Chelsea was conceived one night when Bill raped Hillary.

Only the fringiest Clinton-haters could find pleasure with that level of prurient tabloiding of a former U.S. president and a present-day U.S. senator. After a few paragraphs, you find yourself reaching for the Brillo.

Another possible explanation may be that conservatives understand Hillary Clinton is a serious presidential contender in 2008 and that Klein's book is not helpful. By attacking her in ways that fair-minded Americans find indecent, Klein helps burnish her image as victim.

Recall that Hillary Clinton was not universally beloved as first lady. Her "Me, Too" co-presidency with Bill, notable for her failed national health-care plan (and her contempt for the stand-by-your-man, cookie-baking wife), won her few friends.

Enter Monica Lewinsky and, in a miracle of mass empathy, Hillary transmogrified from arrogant political animal to sympathetic do-right woman. Nobody kicks a wounded woman when she's down.

In fact, they elect her to the U.S. Senate.

Never mind that she had never lived in the state in which she was running. Those details could be sorted out in due course. Go Knicks! I mean, go Yankees! Go Palestine! No, Israel. Oh, whatever.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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