Enough with the Hillary hoopla

Posted: Jun 11, 2003 12:00 AM

I cannot begin to express how disappointing I find all of the Hillary Clinton hoopla.

I'm disappointed in the media in general for constantly referring to Hillary Clinton's "controversial new book" as if it contains anything approximating a real controversy.

I'm disappointed in Barbara Walters for continuing to defy her reputation as a serious journalist.

I'm disappointed anybody could think it's an open question whether Hillary's lying about believing Bill until the bitter end. Of course she's lying. Yawn.

Next question.

I'm disappointed in the fraction of the American people who believe that the Clinton marriage is some sort of great romance rather than a political partnership first and a romance, great or small, a distant second.

My disappointment stems from my exhaustion. If normal people get Clinton fatigue, I have Clinton narcolepsy. I have Clinton Epstein-Barr. It's not safe for me to discuss the Clintons while driving or operating heavy machinery, I get so tired of the subject. But enough about me -a sentiment Hillary's husband has never, ever expressed.

To be honest, I've never understood the fascination with Hillary Clinton. I don't find her charming or particularly interesting, and, unlike many other liberal politicians, I don't really see how other people could, either.

She's not particularly attractive, though she seems to be defying Mother Nature by becoming better looking as she gets older. She no doubt has a high IQ, and she's an able political operator. But she's a dull public speaker at best.

She's got a mean streak and frosty attitude remarkable for anybody in politics, let alone a woman (they do get held to a higher standard). Sure, she was famously labeled one of America's 100 top lawyers a long time ago, but nobody has ever demonstrated that she would have been on that list were it not for the fact she was married to a rising star of the Democratic Party and the governor of the state in which she practiced.

Meanwhile, I can certainly understand the fascination with her husband. He's obviously brilliant, even if his genius is often overpowered by his narcissism and tackiness. He's the most effective public speaker his party has produced in a generation. Both his political and private personas are hothouses of contradictory impulses and appetites ripe for analysis and criticism -both for what they say about him and about the people who love or despise him.

Indeed, it seems the fascination with Hillary is just a hand-me-down from Bill.

That's certainly the lesson of all this book hoopla. Nobody cares about her ideas on health care. There's no buzz about her views on national security.

No one gives a rat's patoot about her views on anything at all really -except, that is, her views on her husband. Why did she stay married to him? How could she have believed him after all of his past "indiscretions." Did she really believe his enemies created Monica Lewinsky?

Without that stuff, she's just the ambitious wife of a philandering politician and the geeky junior senator from New York. In short, without Bill, her book would be in the remainder pile within a week (where I think it's heading anyway).

Now, to be fair to Hillary, that's the way it is with most memoirs by active-duty politicians. With the possible exception of a few war hero types, like John McCain, no political biography by a politician with presidential aspirations is very interesting. Politicians live boring lives for the most part, and the ones who don't can't spill the beans if they want to be president.

Hillary is even more constrained because she can't contradict her (or her husband's) grand jury testimony. Plus, I think honesty about the mercenary nature of their marriage would hardly make her an attractive candidate in the future.

Please spare me the drivel about how her marriage is no one's business. Her whole political career has been based on her marriage. Her husband promised that voters would "get two for the price of one" with the two of them in the White House.

Hillary took $8 million to publish a book that feeds entirely off the details of her private life. Her shtick on this score is well-established. She brags about her wonderful "partnership" with Bill and then screams bloody murder whenever someone questions the nature of that partnership.

I have no doubt she doesn't like it when Bill cheats on her. But it's clear, to me at least, that she considers the various costs of being married to Bill the price of doing business with him. Heck, when Barbara Walters asked her what would happen if Bill cheated on her again, Hillary responded, "You know, that will be between us."

If I thought better of Hillary Clinton, I might be disappointed by such resignation at the inevitable. But I don't.