Politics & Policy

He Said. She Said.

So who's right? Sid or Hill or…?

Hillary Rodham Clinton, in excerpts from her “memoir” released by the Associated Press this week, says that she was “dumbfounded” when her husband told her, bedside on August 15, 1998, that he lied to her and the world about his relationship with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.

Gulping for air, I started crying and yelling at him, “What do you mean? What are you saying? Why did you lie to me?” I was furious and getting more so by the second. He just stood there saying over and over again, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I was trying to protect you and Chelsea.”

But that’s not how Clinton-flack Sidney Blumenthal remembers it in The Clinton Wars.

During that day [August 17], we had driven from Florence to Rome in order to get our flight back to Washington [the Blumenthals were in Europe for the wedding of Jamie Rubin and Christiane Amanpour ]. I talked repeatedly with Hillary, and Jackie and I stayed up until the middle of the night to watch Clinton give his speech, broadcast on CNN International. About ten minutes after it ended, my hotel phone rang: it was the President, asking me what my reaction was. I told him that it was all right. Hillary asked me what I thought. I told her the same. The President said that he was pleased with it. Hillary also approved. That was the most important thing of all. They handed the phone to James Carville and Mark Penn, and I spoke to them too. I could hear the President and Hillary bantering in the background. Whatever they would have to do between themselves to get over this episode, in the challenge to their marriage and the presidency they were still working as a team. Without that, nothing was possible.

Earlier on, when he first mentions Hillary’s reaction to finally learning that her husband is a liar and a cheat, an abuser of power-all supposedly news to her-Blumenthal writes about how together the First Lady was.

I said that whatever “issues” anyone had, and hers was worse than anyone’s, we had to think about the politics. That was her reasoning as well. She said that the President would be “embarrassed,” but that was for him to deal with. And that was all she would say about it. Even in a private conversation with a friend, she maintained her dignity. It was my intention to help her do that, and through the next two days we kept in constant contact.

He later notes that as Bill Clinton huddled with lawyers after three and half hours of testimony on August 17, preparing his speech to the nation that night, Hillary Clinton intervened. Blumenthal claims:

Hillary entered the White House solarium where this conference was going on, I learned later, and said, “It’s your speech. You should say what you want to say.” She knew what he wanted to say, and it was what he did say.

Not quite a damsel in distress. But a distressed wife sells better than an all-business partner in politics when you’re Senator Clinton, running for president.

Additionally, in Thursday’s Washington Post, the “Reliable Source” column points out that the Washington Post’s Peter Baker reports yet another version of the confession in his book The Breach. In Baker’s telling of it, Bill Clinton’s attorney David Kendall was the first to break the news to Mrs. Clinton, on August 13. Kendall, according to the Post’s Lloyd Grove, is currently denying the Baker rendition of events.

“Hillary benefits by being softened a little,” former Missouri lieutenant governor Harriett Woods says in Thursday’s USA Today about Living History. No doubt that’s what was on the mind of a woman who has been living in spin for more than two decades. So who’s right? Sid or Hill or…?

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