Figuring out Sen. Clinton: It all comes down to power

Wednesday, June 18, 2003 at 1:00am

Well, I've finally figured out the sphinx that is Hillary Clinton. It took me years, but I think I've solved the mystery based upon the best available evidence: her own words. The final clue in my piecing together this fascinating puzzle was the senator's mention of a meeting with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. That's when it all crystallized for me.

First the setup. There is no way on earth that a woman as intelligent as Hillary Clinton could not have understood the weakness and the true character of her husband, even if he did look like a Viking at one time. Bill Clinton is not a subtle man. He loves adulation, and he loves women. You don't need a Ph.D. to add it up.

And the figures appeared with regularity, beginning with Mr. Clinton's 1992 admission on 60 Minutes that he had "brought pain to the marriage." I guess you could interpret the statement as Roger Clinton being invited to the wedding, but that would be a stretch.

Anyway, over the years, various women showed up with mercenary tales of bad behavior by Bill. There were tape recordings, depositions and, finally, presidential admissions of fooling around. Barney Fife could have figured this one out. Mr. Clinton liked the ladies, and his ability to resist temptation was, well, in the Jim Bakker category.

So for Hillary Clinton to claim she was shocked and awed by her husband's admission in the Lewinsky affair is disingenuous and makes her look silly. If she didn't have suspicions in this matter, do we really want her protecting us from al Qaeda?

The truth, as I see it, is that Hillary Clinton did not want to know about her husband's hobbies. She has made an accommodation that she has every right to make. Don't tell me that Jackie Kennedy was clueless about JFK's antics. And even though Hillary claims the two talked about clothing, I'll bet you a peach pantsuit there were other subjects broached in that conversation as well.

Look at it this way. Both Hillary and Jackie led charmed lives in the White House. They traveled the globe on private jets, met fascinating people, and received the affection of the world. Both ladies acquired fame, prestige and power, which Hillary, in particular, relishes. It was a wonderful life. Why disturb it with a close examination of her husband's conduct?

Millions of Americans have made this same tradeoff, and that is completely their business. But if a person enters into that bargain, she shouldn

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