Hillary -- Living her story

Posted: Jun 18, 2003 12:00 AM

For some time now, I've lived by a hard-and-fast rule: Never criticize the people around Bill Clinton more than you criticize Clinton himself. Bashing those around him only takes the heat off the guy who abused the presidency.

Unless Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., runs for president -- and I don't think she will -- or unless I move to New York, I see no reason to change that rule. The release of her new book, Living History, changes nothing.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to paint Mrs. C as a victim. Why should I buy into the victim act when it allowed H.R.C. to parlay her husband's cheating into an out-of-state Senate seat and an $8 million book deal?

Life gave her lemons; she made lemonade. Now, because of her husband's philandering, suckers are lining up to pay $28 for a pack of half-truths and outright lies. (As in her statement, "I was dumbfounded, heartbroken and outraged that I'd believed him at all," on the morning Clinton allegedly 'fessed up to Monica.)

The worst of it is her customers must know that La Hil never intended to tell the real story -- she always was going to deliver the most spin she thought she could get away with -- but they queue up anyway. Love is blind.

So is hate. Critics put too much of the bad juju on her, not him.

To start with, how many times have you heard people say of l'affaire Monica,

"Well, if she didn't mind ..." (That's a favorite line of enlightened liberals.)

They talk as if Clinton cheated, not because he's a heel but because Hillary put up with it.

The right won't forgive Hillary Clinton's 1992 performance on "60 Minutes" after the Gennifer Flowers affair came to light. They complain that during that pivotal interview, Hillary appeared supportive as her husband pooh-poohed Flowers' claim that they had been involved.

OK, Hillary nodded her head in support, but Bill Clinton said Flowers lied for the money -- and he had been a lot closer to Flowers.

(We now know he lied on "60 Minutes," because he told Ken Starr's team he had sex with Flowers "once.")

Besides, while critics say Mrs. C. tried to smear his women, it's expecting too much to demand that the erstwhile feminist former first lady show such a strong sense of sisterhood that she stand up for Flowers. Not when Flowers has told the world she had sex with Hillary's husband in Hillary's house while Hillary was at home.

Be clear on this: Clinton not only used women, he conducted smear campaigns against them. Before he ran for president, he made sure that other people knew what he was doing. He didn't just cheat, he advertised. Isn't that behavior worse than her enabling him?

Besides, if she was an enabler, so were the American people.

In part, Hillary Clinton fascinates us because people want to know what glue holds the Democratic Duo together -- ambition or a pathetic conviction that a man who steps out on his wife is more interesting and desirable? I suspect that she started with the latter, but that feeling waned until only ambition was left.

It doesn't speak well for the senator from New York that, to this day, she blames the right. During her book tour, La Hil keeps warning that the "right wing" wants to "turn back the clock" in this country. Turn back the clock? Does she mean back to the days when pols fooled around while those around them covered up? Back to the double standard when men roamed and women, well, stayed home and baked cookies? Back to the days when the "other women" were bad, while the husband was forgiven? No, she helped turn that clock back.

No matter. Hillary's reward for tolerating abuse is a Senate seat, the adoration of liberals and a best-selling book. Her punishment is the knowledge that she got everything she has, not on her own, but as a sop for allowing her husband to, well, date.

I feel sorry for her.