Politics & Policy

The Times Puffs Hillary


I have precisely 19.5 minutes to write my entire G-file for the day, and the weekend. So, anything spelled correctly is a function of the spot-on clean-up efforts of the NR staff who are sitting around patiently before they can get the hell out of there for the weekend. So I will be mercifully quick. Hillary Clinton announced today that she’s forming an exploratory committee to run for the Senate from New York.

I don’t have even a fraction of the time to write about that intelligently. Instead, I’d like to ask if anyone saw the New York Times magazine profile of Hillary Clinton last Sunday? Something has been bothering me about it ever since I read it. And rather than write something profound about candidate Clinton, I will share it and let you decide.

There’s a scene in the Times piece where the reporter, James Bennett, is talking to Hillary in the solarium. Bennett, who must have had a very difficult time taking all that dictation from Hillary’s press shop, made a great deal about the dual nature of being both the greatest mother in the universe and the all-powerful all-wise First Lady and de facto feminist leader of the world.

Bennett sets the scene. There they are in the White House solarium, a “glassed-in den” really. “Here, a veneer of family life spreads over the stolid symbol of Presidential authority. The walls leading to the solarium are tiled with framed pictures of the Clintons at work and at play — lounging together in an Arkansas hammock, gathered at a picnic table with Chelsea. On the coffee table sat a dog-eared box of the word game Boggle.” C’mon everybody, all at once: awwwwww.

“But there were reminders everywhere of the weirdness of this life,” writes Bennett. Was he talking about Bill Clinton’s collection of bronzed panties or perhaps the shrunken heads of all the White House help Hillary has disapproved of? No, no, nothing so exotic.

He had something else in mind. “A family’s collection of Russian nesting dolls — near its collection of Beanie Babies — does not usually include dolls of the family itself, alongside the Reagans and the Bushes.” Wait a minute. Who cares about the dolls of the Clintons, Bushes, and Reagans? What about the Beanie Babies? What on earth is that about? As far as I know, kids have only been scarfing up Beanie Babies for something like two or three years. The earliest Nexis hit I found was for 1996. So what the Hell are the Clintons doing with a collection of Beanie Babies?

Chelsea is in her second year at Stanford. Was she collecting these toys for 6-year-olds when she 18?

I don’t think so. I think it was a prop. I think that the Clintons are still all about props. Does anyone think that after Bill Clinton played “where’d I put my car keys?” all over Monica Lewinsky that the lovebirds are still playing Boggle? Of course not. Hillary is about to launch a whole new chapter in her life of prop-holding. Her husband was always the biggest prop. It lent her authority the way a sword or gun lends an actor might. Now she’s going to New York, where she thinks if she eats pastrami or poses at a festival, she’ll be a New Yorker. Hopefully someone will see through this better than the New York Times — or the nation did.

Out of time. Let’s pick this up Monday.

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