Master political strategist Bill Clinton has apparently added another
major client to his stable: wife Hillary Rodham Clinton. It’s well known
that in order to extend his presidency vicariously through Al Gore,
Clinton has appointed himself Gore’s campaign manager. He believes
Gore’s election and now Hillary’s will shore up his legacy.
Clinton told reporters on Air Force One last weekend that he had
given his wife advice about her decision to run for the New York Senate.
“I gave her probably the advice I gave everybody: You have to know,
you need to know why you want the job. … You have to be able to tell
somebody in 30 seconds, you have to be able to tell somebody in five
minutes, you have to be able to give a 30-minute talk.”
Knowing Bill Clinton the way we do, we can safely infer that what he
was telling Hillary was not that she needed to search her heart to
discover why she truly wanted to be senator of a state in which she has
never resided. Rather, she should figure out how she can best sell her
candidacy to New Yorkers then retrofit that into her campaign profile.
We know that with Bill’s assistance Hillary will mount a formidable
campaign and that in time they will conform her message to what the
pollsters tell them New Yorkers want to hear. At that point, Hillary
will be able to articulate her three sets of campaign speeches (30
seconds, five minutes and 30 minutes) with as much conviction as if she
passionately believed everything she were saying. And with any luck, the
pollsters will find that New Yorkers are ideologically compatible with
her and she can just be herself. Time will tell.
In the meantime, let’s consider how Hillary might spontaneously
respond to her husband’s question if under the temporary influence of a
truth serum. Please tell us, Mrs. Rodham Clinton why you are really
A clue might be found in the two components of her almost hyphenated
surname: Rodham Clinton. She is probably deeply torn between retaining
her identity as the wife of President Clinton and establishing her
Throughout her tour as first lady, she has been on a popularity
roller coaster with some low points but far more highs. Currently she is
enjoying immense popularity.
The problem is that she is painfully aware of the fact that her
popularity has a great deal to do with her perceived victimhood. For
her, this image is bittersweet at best. Don’t forget that she is the one
who brought much criticism on herself for emphatically denying that she
was a Tammy Wynette kind of woman. She wanted us all to know that she
didn’t want to be seen as merely a woman who would “stand by her man.”
Unhappily for her that is exactly how she is seen. In fact, had she
failed to stand by her philandering man he would be out on his ear right
now. Ironically, though, in adopting that doting posture she was trying
so earnestly to avoid, her popularity has soared to new heights. To save
her co-presidency, this feminist icon has been forced to betray her
With this background, Hillary’s dilemma comes into clear focus. She
is the subject of unparalleled adulation, yet for all the wrong reasons.
And she knows it! She craves the public approval she is getting, but to
her it’s all a lie. She is being worshipped for the wrong reasons.
Now she has to decide whether it’s worth taking the gamble of
stepping out on her own, carving out her independent image and finding
out whether she can cut it. She knows that if she does decide to run for
the New York Senate seat she will be forfeiting certain aspects of her
image contributing to her present popularity and risking others.
As first lady, Hillary is the wife of the perpetrator of Whitewater,
Filegate and Travelgate. As senatorial candidate, she is coequal
co-perpetrator of those and more, including Cattlefuturesgate.
As senatorial candidate, she will no longer be the victim. New York
is a politically brutal state and her likely opponent, Rudolph Giuliani,
takes no prisoners.
As first lady, she is “the smartest lady in the world,” other than
Eleanor Roosevelt’s ghost. As senatorial candidate, she’ll meet reality
face-to-face and have to sink or swim on her own performance.
Mrs. Rodham Clinton has to decide very soon whether she wants to
continue to bask in the false glory as Mrs. Clinton or embark on the
perilous journey of seeking to establish her independent identity as Ms.