What's eating Hillary Clinton? Her behavior during President Bush's address to Congress last week was abominable. At a time when even the most partisan of her Democratic colleagues stood united with the president, New York Sen. Clinton shunned patriotism for petulance. She grimaced. She sighed. She rolled her eyes. She fidgeted like a 5-year-old at an opera.
And when Mrs. Clinton mustered enough energy to clap, she acted as if there were razor blades strapped to her palms.
Although network talking heads refrained from comment, outraged Americans across the country spoke out. Teacher Kathie Larkin of Atlanta wrote to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "This is behavior I would not accept from my sixth-graders listening to a speaker, and I expected better of an adult from a state ripped apart by terrorist violence. Hillary needs to grow up."
James Gale of Silver Spring, Md., wrote to The Washington Post: "She at times seemed bored and uninterested, clapping perfunctorily, and at other times she was talking during the speech. I thought her actions were unbecoming a senator at this difficult time."
The Boston Herald, one of the few bold newspapers to take note of Clinton's insolence, editorialized that she "looked like she was sucking on a lemon." And Karen Gauvreau of Clearwater, Fla., wrote to the St. Petersburg Times: "She would have been better off had she stayed home."
Mrs. Clinton's staff claims she was weary from traveling. What nerve. All she had to do last week was park her taxpayer-funded backside on a plane seat. Meanwhile, her constituents and volunteers from across the country pulled 13-hour shifts, sifting through rubble, sorting body parts, and collapsing on curbsides from exhaustion and grief.
A few nights' rest didn't seem to cure Mrs. Clinton's unsightly condition. During last weekend's prayer memorial at Yankee Stadium, she remained dour and tight-lipped as the tearful crowd of thousands sang the national anthem. Hiding behind sunglasses -- guess she can't control the rolling eyeballs any more than Al Gore can control his heaving sighs -- Mrs. Clinton posed for photos with a strange sneer frozen on her stony face.
Let there be no doubt about whose interests come first for Mrs. Clinton in times of crisis. While New Yorkers mourned, their junior senator sulked. Then she tried to rip off both President Bush's and Mayor Giuliani's coattails by claiming credit for securing federal disaster aid. The damage-control patrol at The New York Times ate up her narcissistic spin. A Sunday puff piece, which was silent on her churlish performances, extolled her "full transition from a former first lady who happened to hold a Senate seat to true federal legislator."
The paper reported that "Mrs. Clinton has carefully guided the Giuliani administration on how agreements are forged between Congress and the White House" and has "taken on chores like holding the hands of counselors for families, usually out of the way of a camera." Gag. As if Giuliani needed "guiding." As if grief counselors needed help from a woman who just two years ago planted her lips on the cheeks of blood-thirsty Yasser Arafat's wife after she spewed anti-Israel, terrorist propaganda.
Adversity magnifies deep character flaws that no pair of sunglasses can conceal. Hillary Clinton's resentful visage and insouciant behavior this past week reveal that -- like her husband -- she suffers from a fatal inability to put love of country above love of self.
In the weeks before the attack, Mrs. Clinton was gearing up to drive the anti-GOP bandwagon on her path toward greater power and higher office. She had raised big bucks for fellow Democrats and helped block President Bush's choice to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Beltway buzzed with fresh rumors of a possible presidential bid. "Senator Clinton is on the rise, moving back into public life, enjoying a bit of the spotlight and savoring the fact that whatever attention she does get is all about her," gushed Time magazine last month.
That all changed when the Twin Towers came crashing down on 9-11. "I think we were all victimized by this," Mrs. Clinton said last week. An expression of sympathy for others -- or a self-pitying lament? The cold, corrosive look in Hillary Clinton's eyes speaks for itself.