The Post and the Daily News both look at the release of records from Hillary Clinton’s time in the White House from different perspectives. The Post uses the release of her schedules to paint a picture of Clinton as an exaggerator. The Daily News takes the “scorned wife” angle instead.
The Post randomly chose nine weeks of Clinton’s records to see what meetings the First Lady attended. The story by Geoff Earle and Charles Hurt says that of the 73 scheduled meetings in the random time periods, only six of them “were with foreign leaders or representatives.” The premise here is that Clinton’s “foreign policy” experience is having tea parties and lighting Christmas trees in other countries. The photo accompanying the “‘CRISIS’ HILL DID TEA SERVICE” headline is captioned “FRENCH TOAST” and shows Clinton and French First Lady Bernadette Chirac raising a glass back in 1996. The subtext here is that Clinton was “just a wife,” but what the Post fails to take into account is that politics do not occur in a vacuum. They’re a social process that involves friendly gestures and chit-chat with the wives. (For fictional examples, see the influence of Stockard Channing’s Abbey Bartlett on The West Wing or Jean Smart’s Martha Logan on 24.) This isn’t to say that Hillary Clinton’s contributions should be lionized, but they shouldn’t be minimized either.
The News looks at the records to see if and when Hillary Clinton was in the White House while her husband Bill was trysting with Monica Lewinsky. It’s another chance to bring out the file photos of Lewinsky and the infamous blue dress, as Hillary Clinton was in the White House at the time the dress was, ahem, stained. Mrs. Clinton is not smiling in the accompanying photo from 1999: we see her scowling in the back ground while then-President Clinton makes the famous “pursed-lip scandal face” (see Eliot Spitzer for its latest incarnation). The subtext is the same: she was “just” a wife (and a wronged one at that), but the News acknowledges that these women do wield some influence, as records indicate that Mrs. Clinton pushed for NAFTA.
This is the cliché, “Behind every man…” in action.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 20, 2008