Two Clintons in the Senate: a `War of the Roses'

July 01, 1999|By Maureen Dowd

WASHINGTON -- One Senate. Two Clintons.

It is a concept so novel, so alarming, attention must be paid.

Jeffrey Toobin caused a kerfuffle when he wrote in the New Yorker this week that President Clinton was interested in running for the Senate from Arkansas in 2002. If Mr. Clinton won in his home state and Mrs. Clinton won in somebody else's home state, they would make history as the first connubial Senate team.

When the president called the story "crazy," I knew it could be true.

As Hal Bruno, formerly of ABC, said of the Clinton crowd: "You're dealing with very unpredictable and, at times, unstable people."

With Larry King, Mr. Toobin evoked the image of a cool Tracy-Hepburn pair working the cloakroom: "I think the opportunity for them to serve in the Senate together, doing public service, which is what they both seem to want to do, would be a tremendous opportunity for them."

A little more public service from the Clintons and we will all expire.

If anyone thinks Mr. Clinton would be motivated to run for the Senate by the chance to work closely with his wife on more allegedly urgent policy wonkery, I have a bridge to the future I'd like to sell him.

Demanding the limelight

The man can't function unless he is causing dysfunction. He's already driven Washington completely bananas. He can't help it. This is what he does. And he does what he wants. The more Mrs. Clinton and Vice President Al Gore try to get away from Mr. Clinton, the more he'll croon and wiggle his hips and make pouty lips until he gets back the spotlight.

Elvis will never leave the building.

Why should Mr. Clinton go back to Little Rock to try to make world peace, like Jimmy Carter, or go off to Hollywood to fetch Jeffrey Katzenberg's coffee, when he could stay here and torment us -- not to mention his wife -- some more? Why have a legacy when you can have "Groundhog Day"? Why have an amicable divorce when you can have "War of the Roses"?

Just picture this scary 2003 scenario: a Bush in the White House, two Doles and a Gore lobbying on K Street, and two Clintons battling each other on the floor of the Senate.

A new pecking order

If both Clintons did become senators, Mrs. Clinton would have seniority. You've gotta love that.

So if she catches him with another buxom intern in a Capitol hideaway, used through the ages by lawmakers on the make, she could really mess with him. No more having to cast that adoring glare when he talks.

Now she can refuse to yield her remaining time to the gentleman from Arkansas. She can filibuster him, he can filibuster her, and they can bring a couple branches of government to a screeching halt again.

With her seniority and her big state, she'll be on Finance and Foreign Relations, and she could make sure he was on a loser panel like the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. Obviously, he is not suited for the Select Committee on Ethics or Veterans' Affairs and would cringe from the permanent subcommittee on investigations.

It will be wonderful to watch Mrs. Clinton exact parliamentary revenge from her perch on the Appropriations Committee. Whenever her hubby tries to steer money to Arkadelphia, she can reroute it to Elmira, if she can remember where it is. He may wind up feeling lucky that he has no legacy for her to undo.

She will arrange a rapprochement between two cagey and ruthless New Yorkers, Harold Ickes and Dick Morris, and bring them on as her top aides. With that triangulation of revenge, she will always out maneuver the senator from Arkansas.

Of course, having experienced her lash so often, Mr. Clinton may be reluctant to support Mrs. Clinton for whip.

Senator Clinton and Senator Clinton will have to abide by the congressional rules of collegiality and civility in addressing one another. You can just hear them now:

He: "May I ask the esteemed harridan from New York why she has transferred funds from my Presidential Library to Project Cleanup in Schenectady?"

She: "Need I tell the distinguished rake from Arkansas that I no longer have to feign interest in his tacky and Zabar-less state? And my lecherous friend should not expect to see his face on a postage stamp any time in this century."

I suspect she will see no reason to revise and amend her remarks.

Maureen Dowd is a New York Times columnist.

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