WASHINGTON – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she forgives her husband’s adulterous affairs because they were “sins of weakness,” not “sins of malice.”

But if Bill Clinton is merely a harmless, if hopeless, lady pleaser, why did eight of the ladies who allegedly made him weak fear him so?

The club of women who charge that the former president personally assaulted them or, through his “agents” or “people,” threatened to do them or their families physical harm is a large one. Some are vague about the threats. Others are quite specific.

But a pattern is clear, not to mention disturbing: One after another, women have accused the New York senator’s husband of being, at a minimum, a bully; at worst, a rapist. And all of them said they were afraid for their safety while he was in power.

Some also fear Hillary herself. She hired a private detective in Arkansas to investigate some of Bill’s “bimbos,” and some suspect she may have been behind much of the intimidation.

Elizabeth Ward Gracen

A former Miss America, she claims to have had a 1983 fling with then-Arkansas Gov. Clinton. She says she kept quiet about it during the 1992 campaign after getting threatening phone calls. The calls started again, she says, after she was subpoenaed in the Paula Jones case. “I was physically scared,” she told the New York Post.

Gracen told the Toronto Sun in 1998 that Clinton is “a very dangerous man.” She also said: “I’ve had to be very careful. There was a lot of pressure on family and friends; people were being staked out.” She says the IRS audited her after she spoke out.

In his book “Uncovering Clinton: A Reporter’s Story,” Michael Isikoff recounts how Gracen ran into Clinton in Hot Springs, Ark., when she was 21 and serving as Miss America. While doing a public service announcement there, then-Gov. Clinton pulled up in his state limo and offered her a ride.

According to Isikoff, Clinton invited Gracen to the apartment of one of his pals at the Quapaw Towers back in Little Rock.

“They had sex that night. It was rough sex,” Isikoff said. “Clinton got so carried away that he bit her lip, Gracen told her friends.”

Bit her lip.

Jaunita Broaddrick

Now turn to Jaunita Broaddrick’s account of how Clinton, as Arkansas attorney general, raped her during an afternoon meeting in Little Rock in 1978.

“The second time he tries to kiss me he starts biting my lip. [She cries.] Just a minute,” she told NBC News in 1999. “He starts to, um, bite on my lip and I tried to pull away from him. [More crying.] … And then he forces me down on the bed.”

Norma Rogers, a nurse and friend of Broaddrick, says she met her at the room shortly after the alleged rape. She noticed that Broaddrick’s top lip was turned out and badly swollen. In fact, it was double its normal size.

The lip-biting detail – brought up by two women who don’t know each other, don’t live in the same place and haven’t heard each other’s stories – is compelling. It establishes an M.O.

Why didn’t Broaddrick come forward earlier? “I was afraid that I would be destroyed like so many of the other women,” she told NBC.

Three weeks before Clinton announced he would run for president, the then-governor called a shocked Broaddrick out of a meeting at a nursing home where she worked. He asked for her forgiveness, but she says he was really trying to take her temperature about the incident 13 years earlier, to see if she still cared and might decide to make it an issue for him.

Shortly before House impeachment investigators interviewed her in 1998, she said she noticed a man following her and that she found her home had been broken into, with only her answering machine tape stolen.

Gennifer Flowers

In 1992, she revealed her affair with Clinton – and had audio tapes to prove it.

Then the trouble began.

“My home had been ransacked. I had received threats. My mother received threats. People were getting beaten. I was afraid for my life,” she told CNN’s Larry King in 1998.

She said her home had been broken into three times and ransacked the third. She told then-candidate Clinton about the burglaries.

“When I told Bill about it, he said, ‘Do you think they were looking for something on us?'” Flowers said. “When he said it to me, there was just a tone in his voice. And I thought, you probably had this done to me.”

Asked about the Flowers affair under oath in 1998, Clinton finally copped to it.

Kathleen Willey

An ex-White House volunteer, Willey claims that on Nov. 29, 1993, she was groped by the president in the same Oval Office room where he later had consensual sex with intern Monica Lewinsky.

She kept quiet about it until Jones’ lawyers subpoenaed her, too. About two months before her Jan. 11, 1997, deposition, Willey found “masses” of nails in three of her car tires. They were stuck in the same six-inch area in the center tread of both front tires.

“It didn’t look like an accident,” said the owner of the Richmond, Va.-area shop that replaced the damaged tires.

Shortly after, Willey’s cat disappeared. And two days before her deposition, Willey told ABC News that a jogger stopped her and asked her about her tires, her cat and her children – by name. “Don’t you get the message?” he allegedly asked.

Monica Lewinsky

Phone tapes record Lewinsky – at the time the White House was pressuring her to sign what turned out to be a false affidavit – intimating to friend Linda Tripp: “I would not cross those people for fear of my life.” She also said: “My mother’s big fear is that he’s [Clinton’s] going to send someone out to kill me.”

As an employee of Clinton, like Jones was in Arkansas, Lewinsky was a key material witness in the Jones sexual-harassment case, since she would help Jones’ lawyers establish a pattern of Clinton hitting on subordinates.

Paula Jones

“Through this whole thing I’ve felt very scared,” she told King in 1999. “I don’t drive crazy, so I won’t run off the road; and I’m not suicidal. So if something happened to me, there’s a reason.”

Dolly Kyle Browning

She claims Clinton aide Bruce Lindsey threatened to destroy her if she broke her silence about her affair with Clinton.

Sally Perdue

A former Miss Arkansas, she claims a Clinton operative tried to hush her up during the 1992 campaign about an affair with Clinton.

The man warned her, “They knew that I went jogging by myself and he couldn’t guarantee what would happen to my pretty little legs,” she told the London Sunday-Telegraph.

Tellingly, two other alleged Clinton paramours, Marsha Scott and Catherine Cornelius, stayed loyal to Clinton and escaped intimidation. They found cushy jobs in the White House.

Stories of Clinton’s dark side, even violent nature, are hard to believe, coming off as he does in public as a big teddy bear, dispensing hugs and delivering southern-fried homilies with ease. He certainly knows how to turn on the aw-shucks charm.

But there is another side to the man, and I’ve seen it myself. Clinton came unglued inches from my face at a 1999 press picnic at the White House. I saw his volcanic temper explode first-hand, and from that point on I understood Broaddrick when she said of her encounter: “He was just a different person at that moment. He was just a vicious, awful person.” There is indeed a monster lurking behind the Bubba mask.

Hillary also has a violent temper, which also does not comport with her super-composed public persona and pretty pastel pantsuits.

The Secret Service says she beaned an agent with a Bible in 1993 for driving too slowly on a trip to church, threw a lamp at Bill in the White House residence, and beaned another agent driver with a different book in 1996 for allegedly “eavesdropping” on her backseat conversation with another passenger. Her favorite cuss word? Motherf—-r.

Hillary may have contributed to the pattern of threats and intimidation against Bill’s mistresses, suggests Joyce Milton, author of “The First Partner: Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

She says she hired private detective Ivan Duda of Arkansas to track down background on Clinton’s numerous affairs. Duda identified more than half a dozen women who were involved with Clinton, including one who worked on the support staff of the Rose Law Firm where Hillary was a partner.

“Hillary showed some emotion when he mentioned the Rose employee, Duda recalls, but she never expressed any anger toward her husband or indicated that she was thinking of leaving him,” Milton wrote. “He assumed she wanted to be prepared for any charges that might come up in the course of the campaign.”

So Hillary hired a private eye not to gather information about his predatory behavior for a divorce suit, but to cover it up and save both their political careers. It was damage control.

Broaddrick tells how Hillary squeezed her hand at a Democratic fund-raiser in what she says was a subtle-but-chilling warning to keep her mouth shut.

She wasn’t about to let any “bimbo eruptions” derail her presidential ambitions. Bill was her ticket, still is (his gift for fund-raising is unparalleled, and his economic and fiscal legacy is her battle cry). Two for the price of one – in 2008 (if not 2004) as in 1996 and 1992. Partners in crime, er, politics for life.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe Hillary when she says she “wanted to wring Bill’s neck” in 1998. She was genuinely mad, but not because he cheated on her (yet again). It was because he got caught. DNA doesn’t lie, and this time they couldn’t either.

But Lewinsky was an isolated “sin of weakness,” Hillary now spins – boys will be boys!

And the Clintons will be Clintons … hopefully, for all of our sake, as far away from the White House as possible.

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My picnic with Bill

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