Linda Chavez

I have a confession to make that will, no doubt, disillusion many of my fellow conservatives. I don't hate Hillary Clinton. Try as I might, I just can't muster sufficient vitriol to attack her or her new book. Don't get me wrong. I disagree with Hillary on most public policy issues and have frequently criticized positions she has taken over the last 10 years. I was terribly disappointed when she won the New York Senate seat. I was glad to see her leave the White House and hope she never comes back, certainly not as president. But that's about as far as it goes.

I suspected I was out of step with my ideological soul mates on the Hillary question when I turned down a chance to debate Living History on television last week. Usually, I can be counted on to debate almost any subject, any time, any place. Granted, I was worried more about my own reputation than Hillary's when I passed up the invitation. I didn't want to look catty, which is inevitable when one woman goes after another. What's more, I hadn't even laid eyes on the book, which seemed to me essential if I was going to criticize it.

But the real test of whether I am a true Hillary-hater came when I ran into her a few days later on Capitol Hill. I was alone in an elevator in the Russell Senate Office Building on my way to visit another senator when, suddenly, the thing screeched to a halt mid-floor and reversed track, taking me to the basement of the building. Before I could get my bearings, the doors opened, and two Secret Service agents stepped in, followed by the junior senator from New York, wearing her now-trademark pastel pink pantsuit.

We exchanged pleasantries, with her asking the perennial Washington question, "What are you doing now?" Roughly translated, this means: "You used to be (a) important, (b) famous, or (c) the subject of some scandal or gossip. So, are you collecting unemployment checks, or have you managed to land on your feet despite everything?"

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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