Hillary is lady appointee the president can't dump

March 09, 1994|By ROGER SIMON

WASHINGTON -- Bill is backing Hillary?

Big deal.

He backed Zoe Baird -- for a while. He backed Kimba Wood -- for a while. He backed Lani Guinier -- for a while.

But when they became political liabilities, he cut them loose.

Will he do the same to Hillary?

Actually, no.

There are at least 10 Reasons Why Bill Won't Dump Hillary:

10. She's not nearly as nuts as Bobby Inman was.

9. She's the only one who knows the numbers to the Swiss bank accounts.

8. She leaks goofy statistics to Ross Perot.

7. She inhaled only once and that was before marrying Bill.

6. She knows all Brit Hume's ticklish spots.

5. She answers the phone and says Bill is in the shower whenever Roger calls.

4. She is keeping reporters busy with Whitewater so they don't start snooping around the real land deals in Orlando.

3. She has a large file labeled "Gennifer" hidden somewhere.

2. She has agreed never to divulge what "Slick Willie" really means.

1. She can rumba better than Al Gore.

Still, blame will continue to be heaped upon Hillary. This was inevitable. Whomever the press will elevate, it will also tear down.

And I admit I was skeptical about Hillary at first. Back on Jan. 31 of last year I wrote that it was a bad idea to put Hillary in charge of health care because, "Bill Clinton is not going to allow criticism of Hillary Clinton or whatever health care reform she comes up with."

And if he could not listen to criticism of her work -- such as "This plan will never pass Congress in a million years" -- then perhaps someone else would better serve the nation in that job.

But I was won over on Oct. 4, 1993, when I read Larry King's column in USA Today.

"I saw a Hillary Clinton that I'd never seen before," King wrote of his meeting with the first lady. "She was funny, charming, sexy -- yes, gang, sexy. We are both Scorpios, which tells you a lot. She's informal -- she called me 'Larry' and told me to call her by her first name."

And right then and there I figured anybody relaxed and together and well, just downright centered enough to call Larry King "Larry" was the kind of person I wanted half-running this country.

Then King brought out the clincher: "She has always owned Oldsmobiles. She called her first one 'Julius' and took the battery to her dorm room at night to keep it warm."

Which explained everything to me: Anybody who could cuddle up to a car battery would have no trouble cuddling up to Bill Clinton.

From then on, I was a Hillary fan.

OK, so she has made some bad personnel selections. OK, she resisted releasing documents about Whitewater. OK, so her health care package seems to have no hope of passage in the form she took 10 months to devise.

So what? She still has the full faith and trust of the president, which is all that counts.

And he demonstrated that Monday by stabbing his index finger into the lectern at a news conference while heatedly defending her.

Some in the press went gaga over this, but others of us had caught this act before.

In March, 1992, at a debate, Jerry Brown had accused Bill and Hillary of crossing ethical lines when it came to her private legal work.

In response, Clinton turned on the same steely-eyed glare. He tightened his jaw the same way. And he extended the same index finger.

"I don't care what you say about me . . . but you ought to be ashamed of yourself for jumping on my wife," Clinton said back then. "You're not worthy of being on the same platform with my wife!"

The press went gaga over that, too.

But Clinton never responded to the issue of whether his wife should have done legal work for a bank that was seeking a break from a state official appointed by her husband.

Instead, he did his "macho man" routine and got away with it.

So why not try it again?

Which is why on Monday, he said of Hillary: "I have never known a person with a stronger sense of right and wrong in my life -- ever!"

Which could mean Hillary is clean.

Or it could mean Bill ought to get out more.

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