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Pillory Clinton
June 20, 2003
By Kevin Dawson

It's always difficult to break beloved old habits. But do you think the time will ever come when people are no longer knee-jerk-infuriated by anything a member of the Clinton family does? Oh, those Clintons! Can't they ever give up the spotlight?

That's right: Bill insisted that $40 million of taxpayer money go toward investigating his sex life. He absolutely begged John LeBoutillier to co-found a "Counter Clinton" insult monument to be built near his own presidential library in Arkansas.

After the 2000 presidential election, Republicans no longer had Bill Clinton to kick around anymore, but that hasn't stopped them from doing it. He's been blamed for everything from the current international situation (if only the Republicans had been as eager to bring down Saddam Hussein as they were Bill Clinton all through the nineties!) and the weak economy, to putting the crack in the Liberty Bell.

He's been called a draft-dodger by men who managed to evade active duty themselves, and a womanizer by men who wouldn't make Husband of the Year either. Any political misdeed today can be explained away by reciting those three magic words: "Yeah, but Clinton..." As long as he remains Public Scapegoat #1, you're going to hear about him.

And now Mrs. Clinton's memoir Living History has hit the bookstores. How could such a book warrant an $8.5 million advance? Because Simon & Schuster (publishers are famously unprodigal with money) knew that Hillary's worst enemies will buy the book if only to sneer at it. If not that, the Hillary-haters will give the book incalculable amounts of free publicity with their columns, editorial cartoons, and letters to the editor.

Many are doubtful of Mrs. Clinton's veracity, including - predictably - people who have written their own books or have their own political axes to grind (as the saying goes, slightly politically corrected: the psychiatric hospitals are full of people calling everybody else mentally ill); some have even questioned her right to have written the book in the first place. Although you didn't hear the Democrats making a fuss and complaining "Haven't we heard enough already from that family?" when Nancy Reagan published Love, Ronnie last year.

The witty folk burlesquing the title - Lying History, Loving Hillary - serve the same purpose as a two-page full-color ad in inculcating the book into the public consciousness. Do they think they're actually hurting book sales? If they really wanted to do something clever, they'd grab a stack of Living History dust jackets and bribe the book distributors to put them on "remaindered" copies of Monica's Story before shipping them out to the stores. Or else place "as told to Linda Tripp" under the "by Hillary Clinton" (it's easy to do if you know PhotoShop).

Maybe it wouldn't make a difference. People seem to have decided what the book was going to contain long before it was published. You'd think that she, as the wronged party in her husband's infidelities, at least would be allowed the chance to tell her side. Besides, she has done other things in her life besides have a husband with itchy britches.

Lordy help us if Chelsea ever does anything noteworthy. All during the mischievous exploits of the Bush girls, the press was told to lay off (they're only teenagers, let the family deal with it in private); imagine the uproar had Chelsea ever so much as jaywalked during her father's administration. Even worse: suppose Chelsea one day brought about world peace, balanced the budget, cured cancer, and discovered those weapons of mass destruction (you know how men are about finding things). Oh, that little show-off! Who does she think she is?

Here's a secret: You want people you're tired of hearing about to go away? Try to get over the Pavlovian outrage every time you hear that person's name.

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