By Dick Morris - 06/15/05 12:00 AM EDT
I am no defender of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s, to put it mildly. But the recent charges in Ed Klein’s book to the effect that she is a closet homosexual or that Bill raped her and that this act triggered Chelsea’s conception are as crazy as the list that was circulating around of the 20 or so people the Clintons allegedly had killed.
These accusations do not belong in our public dialogue. They hit below the belt and tend to discredit the more serious and sober concerns so many of us have about the danger she would present in high office.
How can anyone say if the charges are true? Ed Klein is a respected author, a former editor in chief of The New York Times Magazine and the foreign editor for Newsweek. He would not have written these charges without some substantiation. But these accusations (in The Truth About Hillary: What She Knew, When She Knew It, and How Far She’ll Go to Become President) are highly personal and have little bearing on what kind of president Hillary would make.
Why can’t her critics confine their attacks to the relevant and the obvious: that she would not be a good president and has not been a good senator?
These days, one is constantly asked for one’s opinion of the “Clintons.” There is no such thing. There are two Clintons, Bill and Hillary, and they are very different people.
Anyone who knows both of them realizes how different. He is brighter than she and much more creative. He is intuitive and instinctual, while she works hard to compensate for her lack of these qualities. He crafts novel solutions to important problems; she learns the party line by rote and glories in its recitation. He is an innovator; she is a gladiator. She has discipline that he lacks and self-control he has never even attempted.
Most of all, Bill is a moderate who is a liberal when he has to be. She is an ultra-liberal who moves to the center as a charade to win election. Rated as the 11th most liberal senator by National Journal — one notch to the left of Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) — she has a liberal quotient, according to Americans for Democratic Action, of 95 percent, contrasted with 85 percent for the party as a whole and 60 percent for a real moderate such as former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.).
Bill Clinton made a fine president on domestic issues because of his ability to find common ground in the center of our process. Hillary has never been comfortable in the center and is at her most natural when she is deriding the motives of the opposition, as when she wondered if someone could be Republican and Christian at the same time.
There is enough evidence of Hillary’s penchant for deception without having to dig through her private life. When she went on the “Today” show one week after Sept. 11 and pretended falsely that Chelsea was in danger on that day going for a jog around the World Trade Center towers, Hillary was revealing her true self. Why reach out of the bounds of public conduct to find ammunition to fire at her?
The fact is that these personal attacks just empower the woman and give her examples of over-the-top criticism that she can use to demean the arguments of all who doubt her, for good reasons or for bad. Because some have said that the Clintons resorted to killings to muzzle their opponents and some imply that they may have been behind Vince Foster’s death, Hillary can say that she has been accused of everything “including murder.” In doing so, she can discredit any critics, no matter how reasonable his or her disagreement, with the same brush and label them fanatics who level absurd and irrelevant charges against her.
That is the tactic she has always used, and Ed Klein’s book gives her license to continue to use it to discredit all manner of opposition.
Criticize Hillary all you want. She deserves every bit of it. But let’s stay within the foul lines, shall we?
Morris is the author of Rewriting History, a rebuttal of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) memoir, Living History.