Past Elections

Boston Globe
Mike Barnicle
June 20, 1996

It has now reached the point where you have to have more muscles than Arnold Schwarzenegger to carry these two Clintons through the day. With each week there is some new accusation against one or the other and, whatever the claim, it is met with an excuse instead of an explanation.

Tonight Hillary Rodham Clinton will be in town to raise money for the Democrats’ national campaign. So far, ticket sales have been underwhelming.

There must be a reason. Maybe the party’s local activists are broke. Maybe they’re bored. Or maybe they’re weary of writing checks for two people who insist on asking others to live by standards they refuse to acknowledge.

There is something wrong with the way this president and his wife behave. Ironically, it has little to do with day-to-day governing and everything to do with character, arrogance and hypocrisy.

Hillary Clinton walked onto the national stage advertised as “one of the nation’s top 100 lawyers.” Yet off her behavior since January 1993, you would not hire her to draw up a will or do a house closing.

Here are a few things that now sit like weights on top of the Clinton re-election effort: Whitewater, misappropriated FBI files on the desk of some failed store cop working in the White House, Vince Foster, Webster Hubbell, the White House travel office disgrace.

Q: What do they all have in common?

A: Hillary Clinton.

Whitewater seems to be some “get-semi-rich-quick” backwater land deal pulled together by the wife of the then governor of Arkansas who had no home and no dough, but huge ambitions. The FBI files seem to have been requested in order to see if there was anything in Billy Dale’s background to shut him up after the poor guy was fired from the travel office and forced to defend himself against bogus charges born out of Mrs. Clinton’s desire to purge career employees and replace them with her friends.

Vince Foster and Webster Hubbell. Both men came to Washington through Hillary Clinton. One is dead and the other is in jail.

The list continues: Zoe Baird, Mrs. Clinton’s initial nominee for attorney general who imploded after it was discovered she paid slave wages to a refugee for baby-sitting chores. Kimba Wood, the second designee for Justice who also went down for being cheap and stupid. Janet Reno, who got the job and proceeded to burn a batch of children and religious zealots at Waco. Bernie Nussbaum, a lawyer who worked with Mrs. Clinton on the Watergate Committee 20 years ago and became White House counsel, where he apparently contracted amnesia and failed to notice anything wrong being done with documents the evening Foster committed suicide. Susan Thomases, friend of the First Lady and another New York lawyer who can’t remember a thing.

Of course, whenever points like this are raised, the rebuttal is predictable: Any attack or accusation against Hillary Clinton comes from those who supposedly fear feminism or resent the influential policy-making role of a strong woman.

However, ideology isn’t the issue. If we the people figure politicians are too liberal, too conservative or too bizarre, we have the opportunity to pull another lever in a voting booth.

Good intentions aren’t the issue, either. Both Clintons often speak to the heart of things that sure do need to be addressed: Improved access to health care, a reduction in the volume of sheer bitterness, vitriol and contempt that shrouds too much of life in America today.

Incompetence and insincerity are the problem. The double standard. The constant rush to avoid any personal accountability or responsibility. The incessant need to blame the media, the Republicans, the talk-show callers, the un-informed or ill-informed public that just doesn’t appreciate the sacrifices made by the president and his wife so they can improve our lives, to not-enough applause or adoration.

Sadly, Hillary Clinton and her husband have this incredibly unappealing, irritating way lately of asking us to feel sorry for them. Yet they seem incapable of coughing up whole truths as they cloud each issue with more excuses and partial explanations of misdeeds than a third grader, wallow in self-pity and then ask us to accept them at their word even though it changes with every news cycle and now has more and more voters wondering, “Why can’t these two simply stand up and be straight with us?”