Sunday, February 13, 2000

Tips to Hillary on how to win by failing




BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Apparently we don't like Hillary Clinton unless she's on the ropes.

        The last time she was — more or less — popular was when her husband was catting around, shaming her before the world, and she kept her mouth shut and her head down. Polls conducted during the early months of 1999, during her husband's impeachment trial, were more favorable than they had been for years.

        Newsweek reported her approval rating at 52 percent. Even her critics were using words like “dignified” and “poised.”

Not pitiful enough
        A Marist College poll in January 1999 reported that New Yorkers gave her a 10-point lead over New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Now the Marist pollsters put Mrs. Clinton 7 points behind the mayor.

        This after she has moved to New York and purchased a Yankees hat.

        She is simply not pitiful enough.

        Her husband — as far as the country knows — is behaving himself, bimbo-wise. She has a good haircut and is sleek. She just moved into a beautiful house. Her daughter is gracious and accomplished and has not written a tell-all book about her. Her mother is friendly and supportive and has no substance-abuse problems.

        This is no way to win the public's heart.

        We have seen pictures of that New York house in Chappaqua. It's gorgeous, on a cul-de-sac and even has a pool. If the first lady wants people to like her again, I'd suggest a flooded basement, some dust bunnies and toilet-bowl ring. As for her appearance, those nice slimming pantsuits have got to go.

        Now that she has officially come out of the closet as a candidate for public office, it wouldn't hurt to look a little porky. Or at least have a bad hair day.

A mean salad
        Once Mrs. Clinton said, quite accurately, that she chose to have a career instead of staying home and baking cookies. Now she is bragging about making a “mean salad” and plans to publish a book about White House entertaining.

        Can't Hillary's advisers see the handwriting on the refrigerator magnets? She has to let her souffles fall and her pot roasts burn. Her cookies should be like hockey pucks.

        Maybe she could enlist the aid of Chelsea. Couldn't this child sulk every once in a while?

        A lot of people have speculated that Mrs. Clinton is giving up the genuine power she has as first lady for the job as a junior senator from New York because she has her sights on the presidency. For herself, of course.

        This is just crazy. This is even dumber than running around looking happy and competent.

        Maybe Mrs. Clinton had her expectations skewed by her travels around the world.

        The election this month of Tarja Halonen as Finland's new president adds her to the small group of female heads of state that includes Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ireland, New Zealand, Latvia and Panama. This does not include former leaders Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto or Indira Ghandi.

        Despite the fact that the United States now has female Cabinet members and about 20 percent of U.S. elected officials are women, we are really no closer than we were 10 years ago to having a female president.

        “Female candidates must deal not only with their own personal inadequacies (as every candidate must),” wrote Anita Hill in the New York Times, “but also with the larger question of whether their roles as wives and mothers would hurt their role as policy makers.”

        Well, I think Ms. Hill is making this way too complicated.

        If Hillary Clinton wants voters to like her enough to elect her to office, she must not simply bake cookies. She is going to have to burn them in a really filthy kitchen.

E-mail Laura Pulfer at laurapulfer@enquirer.com, call 768-8393 or fax 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.