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May 25, 2006

What Fifty Interviews And A Dollar Buys You These Days

Clintons230

[I]nterviews with some 50 people and a review of their respective activities show that since leaving the White House, Bill and Hillary Clinton have built largely separate lives — partly because of the demands of their distinct career paths and partly as a result of political calculations.

Fifty interviews!?!  More power to Digby for calling out the NYT for their impersonation of the Nat Inquirer (story link) — and to Media Matters for unveiling authorial double standards.  It’s one thing to tear at the Clinton marriage on the front page, but what would would persuade them to throw that kind of time into it, dressing this up as some kind of serious investigation?

The image above is the one that accompanied the Clinton story on the front page.  Let’s think about it a second.

If you pound home the assertion that this is a marriage of convenience, then you throw on a caption reading: “The Clintons last month in a rare appearance together,” what do you get?  How about, two people — perpetually playing to the public eye — who can hardly afford (or stand) to look at each other.

However, beware of the pseudo-shrink reporter who reduces complex behaviors to simple, unitary explanations. 

Sure, the Clinton’s are consumate political players.  Still, it’s ridiculous to suggest that what connects them is simply political opportunism.  In an examination of any long term relationship (30 years, in this case), what you’re looking at is a venn diagram.  And, you don’t know what you’re talking about if you don’t really wrestle with the blue box.

Clintonven3

May the person with the “non-complex” relationship offer the simple explanation as to to what binds these two.  As calculated as they might be in their public lives, and as idiosyncratic as they might be in private, how many political blogs do you know of willing to offer a defense of love?

But then, who am I to impede The Times from flagellating a dead horse?

  In the on-line version of the story, The Times introduces still one more piece of “visual evidence” demonstrating that Bill and Hill are solely looking out for number one.  This classic pic was taken recently when the Clinton portraits were unveiled by the Smithsonian.

Hillbilllookingaway

This stage ain’t big enough for the both of us?  You go your way, I’ll go mine?  You take the low road and I’ll take the high road?  …Before before you look too far into the picture, you have to enjoy the caption:

The Clintons at the recent unveiling of their portraits. For Mrs. Clinton, seeking her own political identity, her famous husband is a mixed blessing.

I mean, want more could you ask for in a hatchet job?

(image 1: Haraz N. Ghanbari/Associated Press. May 23, 2006. nyt.com.  image 2: David Scull for The New York Times. May 23, 2006. nyt.com.)

  • http://www.wagontongues.com/ Kevin Hayden

    Compare that with the fawning story done on Bill ‘TeleNeurologist’ Frist yesterday.

  • ummabdulla

    I just saw this story in the International Herald Tribune this morning, and they chose a different photo to illustrate it. They didn’t show Bill at all, just a smiling Hillary arriving for a speech at the National Press Club, with some guy – maybe an aide or guard – behind her.
    I like the “Venn diagram” concept, Michael. (Maybe because I’ve spent the last couple of weeks helping my children study for exams, and they used Venn diagrams for “Compare and Contrast” exercises – but this one is actually useful in illustrating your point.)
    I assume that second photo was chosen to show them apart, facing different directions. It’s probably not fair, because they don’t look unhappy or cold towards each other – not that we can really tell. Given that photo and the tone of the article, they’re leading us to think that the fondness we see in the top photo is faked.
    In any case, I think Hillary’s problems with voters are her own and not coming from her husband.

  • steve talbert

    I find it amazing that people would care. I thought the pictures showed 2 independent people who seem happy and like each other enough to be around for 30 years and go through such things together that they have. Maybe that shows the real strength of their power and influence. And the fact that Chelsea seems so much better adjusted as a person than the Bush twins shows how the Clinton’s family was really the better one. (or I guess the right wing would say the Clintons are better at making sure Chelsea’s image is crafted). Also, I think the fact that the Bushes are the ones trying to meddle in other people’s marriages means that we should closely look at theirs…something tells me THAT wouldn’t be a pretty picture.

  • PTate in MN

    I love in second picture that they are turned away from each other in the portraits as well as in the flesh. It’s a cute shot! The portrait of Bill Clinton looms over all, the real man looks off stage left. The tiny portrait of Hillary and the real women in the foreground look off, stage right.
    I am frustrated by the ignorance that people have about marriage! The fact that the MSM can spin the Clinton’s 30-year marriage as a “negative,” a “marriage of convenience,” speaks volumes about why the institution of marriage is collapsing in this country.
    It isn’t enough to stay together for 30 years: You have to have the right kind of relationship. If you don’t do Nancy Reagan doe-eyes up to the moment when death do you part, the whole thing is a sham, a failure.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/aog/ Annoying Old Guy

    beware of the pseudo-shrink reporter who reduces complex behaviors to simple, unitary explanations

    You mean like TheBAG’s analyses of certain political figures? I’m glad to see that you’re finally getting my point.
    As for this story and the NY Times, I think it’s clear that modern journalists have, to a large extent, lost the ability to actually gather news. This is the kind of story that doesn’t require any actual thought, just accounting and purience (not a common combination, but the NY Times is not a common newspaper).

  • Marysz

    I don’t think this article is necessarily a “hatchet job.” This article was “above the fold” in the Times and the picture of the Clintons was the first thing the viewer saw when they picked up the paper. Compare that to the brush-off the Times gave Gore in the Sunday op-ed section. Sure, the article was complete schlock, but if it was intended as a hatchet job, I don’t think it succeeded. Women voters have a tremendous amount of interest in Hillary’s complicated marriage to Bill and it generates a lot more sympathy for her than the (male) political establishment realizes.
    Yesterday’s Times carried some good letters to the editor about the article.
    One reader wrote: “Tension and disappointment” in a marriage? They’re not always together? There are good times and bad times? Wow, what a revelation!
    I’ve been married for 10 years, and much of what you describe in the article about the Clintons’ marriage is true for almost every marriage I’ve ever seen, including my own.”

    Amen to that.

  • http://www.jaxxattaxx.com/ black dog barking

    The last shot, the picture of the portraits, is its own anthology of pictures telling tales. From the many competing voices I find the Senator’s portrait pose intriguing, a committed-to-time view of Ms Clinton watching something else. The former President is pictured for what he is, the Senator for what she sees.

  • http://areyoudressed.blogspot.com momly

    I like that each of them is pictured “with” the other’s portrait. It suggests to me that they are so in tune with each other that they fit together even if one of them is on canvas. If they really were all about themselves, wouldn’t they be with their own likeness?
    Sure, staged, photo-opped — it could have been planned. But I think it is telling, regardless.
    The blue venn diagram is the part of their relationship that we don’t need to know a thing about. But that said, the blue part of the picture has Bill’s smile and Hillary’s hair. It looks comfortable, intimate, and familiar just like a thirty year marriage.

  • http://www.pressthenews.com http://www.pressthenews.com

    It’s a good thing that the NY TImes is focusing the top of its front page on the health of the Clinton’s marriage, given that it is at least as equally important, if not more so, than, say, the:
    Health of the United States Constitution:
    To wit:

    To recap, the President stated that we are doing something within the constitution, on a limited basis, with constant review, when in fact there is no way to know what that basis and review are, no substantial record for there to be an adequate review, which render the actions potentially outside of the limits of the Constitution. On top of that, the program was clandestinely authorized by a broad based program with potential application to every American, in direct contravention of existing law that specifically prohibited the actions in question — and thereby flagrantly violates the separation of powers clauses of the Constitution, as well as the President’s duty under Article II, to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” (The same article II that has the trick “Commander in Chief” clause that under the administration’s argument magically causes the separation of powers clauses to no longer apply during war time.)

    Or, say, free and open democracy itself:
    To wit:

    It really is hard to imagine any measures which pose a greater and more direct danger to our freedoms than the issuance of threats like this by the administration against the press. If the President has the power to keep secret any information he wants simply by classifying it — including information regarding illegal or otherwise improper actions he has taken — then the President, by definition, has complete control over the flow of information which Americans receive about their Government

    Yet relative to the top of page one barrage on the Clinton’s marriage, how has the media focused on such obscure issues as “[little] poses a greater and more direct danger to our freedoms than the issuance of threats like this by the administration against the press? Wonderfully:
    To wit:

    On NBC’s Meet The Press, for example, former Clinton White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, Washington Post columnist David Broder, former Newt Gingrich Press Secretary Tony Blankely, and L.A. Times columnist Ron Brownstein, discussed the issue for over five minutes.
    Granted, there are several sub issues involved, but Russert brought up the fact that Bill Bennett said those reporters ought to be jailed, and Brownstein stated that Bennett called the reporters actions traitorous. Yet not once was it pointed out that the NSA wiretap program violated federal law. Not once was it pointed out — unless the Commander in Chief clause is bizarrely interpreted to mean that during any war time, the separation of powers clause is magically suspended — that the program probably violated the Constitution flagrantly. Not once was it pointed out that the program itself granted the executive branch an unchecked power, with, additionally, no review program but by the very branch administering the power. Not once was it pointed out that all of this was done secretly, with no way for the American people to know about it. And not once was it pointed out that but for the leak to press, America would not know about it’s government’s potentially (and in this case flagrantly) unconstitutional actions.

    As for that NY Times Clinton report itself? It’s a “liberal” newspaper, and, as the Nation’s other leading newspaper tells us, all liberals want to do is “turn the democratic party away from the war on terror.”
    ……

  • ummabdulla

    Is anybody really surprised that this is what they’re covering, though? After all, we knew every detail about Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky, and that led to an impeachment process. Compare that with what Bush has done; yet many people don’t know and don’t care. That may be changing a little, but there’s still no serious thought of impeachment.

  • http://www.pressthenews.com http://www.pressthenews.com

    Not completely related to the Clinton’s marriage, but it is to Senator Clinton. according to roll call, the FBI is seeking to interview parties of Congress to see if they leaked information regarding the administration’s “potentially” unconstitutional nsa wiretap program (the same constitution that the administration now argues that only it has the authority to interpret, and apply.)
    The adminsitration engages in a potentially unconstitional activity, in express violation of a statute, and now it is using its own enforcement powers not to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” under Article II, but to take care that Congress does not disclose and potential violations of those laws, and potential consitutional violations to the people of the united states. the same citizenry which under our founding documents the government (including the executive) derives its sole power.
    what is this country turning into under far right wing republican rule?
    how did this occur, and how can the fundamental issues, be properly addressed? the ever unpopular, but very necessary questions and considerations:
    This issue is pretty important. how about find 3 moderately conservative sites, and three newspapers, and take these arguments, or use your own, or link to something else that makes them, and share them. again, three media sites (major t.v. or newspaper)and three republican sites. there is pretty bad information in america the past few years, and it is not enabling democracy.
    here’ a list of Senators contact information, although the current Congress is so far right wing, it has barely done anything (Arlen specter does ask “where is the outrage” once in a while..) but it is still worth contacting each of them, and very politely asking them WHAT ____ _____ they are doing …

  • nywvblue

    So long as who-did-what-to-whose-dress remains more riveting than who-is-listening-to-you-order-a-pizza, then the Clintons will forever be front page material. I blame it on what I consider to be America’s awkward teen years: explosive hormones (Pick a fight lately? And for a nice cry, Terry Schiavo, anyone?), acting before thinking, oblivious to its own mortality, lacking a sense of responsibility, and completely obsessed with sex.
    So, defend freedom? Say wha? Doesn’t just living in this country guarantee we’re all free anyway?! I mean, c’MON. That dress means that somebody GOT some. And THAT’s not in the constitution…hehehe

  • Cactus

    The only thing left is to call them ‘Billary’…….but maybe some “liberal” medium already has. The Clintons are a talisman for the right when they run out of things to hate; a malice touchstone.
    I think their marriage is easier to understand than Carville/Matlin. At least as far as political couples go. Besides, after 30 years together, they have a lot more in common than sex, which seems to be what preoccupies the wingnuts. The Venn diagram concept was interesting (I had to look it up in Wiki, since I left math at the high school level). The overlapping question mark is probably the ‘political game’ that they have in common. Also, I have a cousin who’s been married 50 years and they have never had common interests, except for three children. I’d sure rather spend an hour with Chelsea than the Bush twins!
    Domestic unions are a complicated human activity. When ‘invented’ they only lasted 10-20 years then people died. Whatever one thinks of the Clintons severally or together, give credit for them staying together for 30 years. One could name dozens of other politicians (many, many of them republicans) who didn’t last nearly that long.

  • nywvblue

    Cactus: “The Clintons are a talisman for the right when they run out of things to hate.”
    Nail on the head. It scares me to see how much some people hate them. I mean, did I miss something? Did missing files whip everyone up into this frenzy? I honestly don’t get it.
    Needless to say, if the Dems are any kind of smart, Hillary will be speaker, but not a contender, for the big race in 2008. Too many people won’t vote for her simply because she is who she is.

  • http://irishlegalfiction.blogspot.com abhcoide

    Less pessimism please. Hillary will elected precisely because of who she is. I think women may turn out in greater numbers for this historic vote. It’s about time.

  • readytoblowagasket

    I think the bottom photo is fantastic! It’s a complex and thought-provoking commentary on a complex and thought-provoking couple. Hillary is in the foreground, closest to us, because she is emerging in her public career, she is coming into her own, we will soon get to know who *she* is (and she looks THRILLED about it). Because she is in the foreground, Hillary *appears* larger than Bill, who is hanging out in the background. Bill is about “half” her size in the image. Interesting if you think about a man, a husband of enormous celebrity, a former president, no less, stepping aside to make room for his partner so that he becomes — must become — diminished. It takes a lot of courage, trust, and self-confidence to do that. Real Bill is the same size as the Hillary portrait, two “cameos” facing in opposite directions (quite funny, especially when you look up the definition of “cameo” in the dictionary). The Bill portrait is . . . what? Sexy? Jacket open, provocative, red power tie, come-hither stance? That’s the Bill of the past; now look at him. He has repented, at least to Hillary, he promises to behave and support his wife’s career ambitions. Old Bill stands on Hillary’s knees like a ventriloquist dummy. Hillary is in control. She holds the power in this relationship. And Bill is fine with that. This is a great portrait.

  • nywvblue

    It’s not so much pessimism, abhcoide, as it is cautious optimism. I wholly expect the Dems to take the next race — it’s a downright moral, ethical, geopolitical imperative that they do — but it can only be done if they recognize the NEED to offer up a candidate who won’t polarize the voters. (The next election cannot even come near to being a photo finish again. There can be no sham recounts, no slight of hand — or machine — again. It has to be a blowout win to be legit.)
    The arsenal against Hillary and her alleged wrongs is vast and easily accessed, and it would be naive to think the opponent won’t sink to the same depraved depths (or worse) that they went to against Kerry. Hillary is a lightning rod. She is hard to cuddle up to politically. Think of how much personality plays into getting votes: Bill’s famous charisma, W’s “drink a beer” likeability… Until someone can name Hillary’s undeniable warm-and-fuzzy factor, taking the chance of running with her and losing is just too great.
    My greatest concern is that the Republicans know this full well and will wait, strangely silent, until she is the their only opponent. It will be like handing the canary to the cat.

  • Quentin

    Obsession number one: private lives and relationships. My marriage is better than yours, ha, ha, ha! My relationship too. Have you ever seen such crap, the picture of Bill and Hill, man on top, woman below, smiles and warmth. Luckily I live in a country where no one —- and I mean NO ONE — expects politions to act as exhibitionists for the pleasure of voyeurs. So, you can guess that I don’t live in the United Kingdom. But it’s not about me. Who is it about, in fact?

  • Cactus

    nywvblue: VERY well said. I’ve been trying to convince my friends that Hillary is too smart to run for POTUS but I admit to having my doubts lately. There is such a strong hatred for her, in particular, out there in the vast wasteland, that it is almost visible. Besides, that glass ceiling for women in politics is still there and the broad hatred (no pun intended) for women by some elements in this country is only getting worse. BTW, that would include some senior democratic men.

  • John

    I have avoided reading the NYT article on the Clintons’ marriage. It’s really none of their (and our) business. I will just offer an observation from my own 28 year old marriage. You may actively dislike, even despise, certain attributes of your partner. But when all is said and done, there is no one on the face of the Earth who knows you as well or as deeply as your partner, and there is some considerable comfort (and discomfort) in that. The Clintons seem to have hit that point. Whatever disagreements I have with them politically, more power to them as parents, people, and marrieds.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Regarding Hillary’s chances of successfully being elected president Cactus said: “There is such a strong hatred for her, in particular, out there in the vast wasteland, that it is almost visible.”
    Yes, it is visible! As we’ve so painfully observed from the state-by-state voting maps from the last TWO presidential elections, the “vast wasteland” is *red,* or people who won’t be voting for Hillary (or any Democrat) if you held a handgun to their head. Hillary’s BIGGEST problem lies *not* within the vast sea of red, but within the divided Democratic Party itself. If the Democrats don’t take the White House in 2008, it will be because they did not unify behind the Democratic candidate. The country is split 50-50, the country IS polarized. It’s a fact. The Dems need to go back and look at the results, not ahead at imagined boogeymen or at a mirage of a utopian world where everyone agrees and has health insurance (said, by the way, by someone who has no health insurance).
    What the Republicans are so good at is standing by their man once they pick him. What the Democrats are so good at is debating. That’s the 2004 election in a nutshell.

  • Cactus

    Speaking of tabloids…….”The Globe” just came out with a shocker, in more ways than one. MediaMatters – http://mediamatters.org/items/200605260003 – has the cover and the commentary. If, like me, you don’t pay attention to the tabloids unless stuck in line at the grocery at 5 p.m. on Friday, consider that they are ALL owned by American Media, a very republican operation and very good buddies with the governator of Calif. They deep-sixed Arnold’s nazi article when he ‘ran’ for governor. The same question occurs to me as when I read an anti-administration article in the “Washington Times.” WHY? What is REALLY behind it?
    The question MediaMatters asks is why, when the NYT, et al., immediately copied all the tabloids’ Clinton gossip, they are not now reprinting the Bush gossip. Well, I’m sure it’s because they are an elite liberal paper and not interested in gossip, right?
    As for the Venn diagrams, it looks like the question mark between Laura and George is very, very thin.

  • Cactus

    Note to “pressthenews”: We really DO try to stay on topic on this site. And we don’t quote long unrelated excerpts from our own sites. Please pay attention.

  • nywvblue

    rtbag: “What the Republicans are so good at is standing by their man once they pick him. What the Democrats are so good at is debating.”
    I love this game!
    What the Republicans are so good at is: destroying the competition at any cost.
    What the Democrats are so good at is: being the bigger man, not ‘going there,’ using one’s intellect rather than force. In other words, getting its ass kicked by every bully on the playground.
    Bush raised his voice in the debates and looked like a whiney ninny (to many of us). Turns out, volume speaks volumes. Because Kerry didn’t show that he’d had ENOUGH of that fool and appropriately raise his voice in return may have been his undoing. And, for some reason, a man raising his voice connotes firmness, conviction, alpha status. A woman raising her voice: nagging, anger, bitch status.
    Think Hillary has a chance?

  • readytoblowagasket

    nywvblue: Nice points all. I would like to add a couple of thoughts, although I’m not nearly talented enough to quite extend the game metaphor. First, however, when I say that Republicans are good at “standing by their man once they pick him,” I do in fact mean they are good at “destroying the competition at any cost.” Especially when evil geniuses like Karl Rove have rule-the-world behind-the-scenes ambitions.
    As for the Dems, I mean to refer to how the party gets so caught up in debating themselves, they lose sight of the goal of winning elections throughout the country, not just the biggie, although losing the biggie is most harmful. Kerry won the presidential debates against Bush as well as a healthy spike in the polls. For a while afterward, things looked extremely promising, and Kerry had exciting (for him) momentum. There is no good reason Kerry should have lost in the end, no good reason the *Democratic Party* should have lost the 2004 election, no matter what crimes the Republicans were committing in voting districts all across the country.
    But that’s also what I mean by “standing by their man once they pick him.” The Dems say *Kerry* lost, not the party itself; the Republicans say their party won. Bush is incidental; the party victory is what counts.
    Howard Dean didn’t fare so well with expressing his anger, remember, but that wasn’t just because the Republicans and MSM tore him to shreds. *Democrats* flushed Dean down the toilet for speaking out of turn and for speaking against the party leaders:
    “Labor unions, former Democratic Sen. Bob Torricelli and one of . . . Howard Dean’s own donors were among big givers to a group that ran ads criticizing Dean in three early voting states.”
    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0211-08.htm
    Those anti-Dean ads are now credited with securing the demise of the Dean campaign. Of course unimaginative and opportunistic Democrats like Joe Lieberman jumped on the anti-anger ad bandwagon at the time too:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57406-2004Jan5.html
    The *party* movers and shakers will do the same to Hillary or anyone else who steps on the wrong toes or doesn’t conform. I think Hillary has a chance with the Democratic *voters,* the poor schmucks like me who don’t hobnob with the rich and famous in Washington. But until the party power brokers and the voters align as one, the Dems could blow it all again in 2008, no matter who the final candidate is.
    That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

  • Cactus

    RTBAG, right on. The DLC has sold out the democratic party and is still undermining Dean and the DNC, as well as viable democratic candidates. Instead of letting local politics handle the primaries and then support the final candidate in the election against the republicans, they butt in and cause a lot of collateral damage that is hard to overcome. If the democratic party is to survive, they will have to rid themselves of the DLC and its republican-lite leaders.
    And if they don’t realize that the right-wing is prepping and preening Hillary to run…..well Rove isn’t their only problem. The right knows that Hillary will be easy to beat, just mention Bill Clinton (to say nothing of the misogynistic code words) and their job is done.

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