Almost as soon as the latest Hillary-hating screed wafted through the media, the horizon grew dark with birds of a feather flocking to the scene. Their feast on tabloid journalist Jerry Oppenheimer’s book has made an unappetizing spectacle, as various characters sensed an opportunity to preen before the cameras, to squawk and chatter into the microphones, to pluck their morsel of publicity and to promote their motley interests.
For the Jewish ultra-right, the nasty imputation of anti-Semitism in the White House provided a perfect backdrop for agitation against the Mideast peace process. That was why a little band of protesters appeared outside Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Manhattan on July 17. Led by an outfit called the Jewish Action Alliance, they are infuriated by Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s efforts to achieve a just settlement with the Palestinians. To them, the Clintons’ commitment to peace somehow proves a hidden animus against Jews. And never mind that the couple’s Jewish advisers, appointees, supporters and lifelong friends could fill every seat at a Sabbath service in Madison Square Garden.
Under normal circumstances, the fringe right-wing protesters-a fanatical physician, an obscure professor or two from the City University system and a discredited Brooklyn Assemblyman-would be unable to attract a single video crew. Exploiting the “Jew bastard” controversy had brought no less than a dozen cameras to record their performance on Seventh Avenue.
The doctor denounced “a pattern over years and years of anti-Jewish, anti-Israel bias” in Hillary Clinton’s life. One professor said the slur had exposed her “character, leanings and prejudices,” and another denounced her as “completely against everything that is good for Jews and the land of Israel.” But it was militant organizer Beth Gilinsky who revealed how little they really cared about the epithet that made them newsworthy.
“So what if it’s not true?” declared Ms. Gilinsky. “So what?” What truly matters, according to her and her comrades, is that the Clintons have dared to publicly endorse the premise of land for peace, just like the overwhelming majority of Israelis and American Jews.
However deluded, those Jewish revanchists at least believe they are obeying the commands of God. No such excuse can be mustered in defense of Senate majority leader Trent Lott, whose partisan spin on Fox News Sunday was below par even for him. Implying that the 26-year-old alleged slur happened recently, Mr. Lott said that Republican candidate Rick Lazio “is even getting substantial support of the Jewish vote, and I think that’s one of the reasons why Hillary’s uttering these anti-Semitic comments, if in fact she is.” (Anti-Semitic utterances are no doubt terribly offensive to the Mississippi Senator himself, especially since he has stopped giving speeches before the racist, anti-Semitic Council of Conservative Citizens.)
Swooping in behind Mr. Lott was his old pal and former Clinton consultant Dick Morris. Of Jewish descent himself, Mr. Morris has suddenly remembered another alleged Hillary remark-during a dispute over his fees-to the effect that “all you people care about is money.” While insulting to Jews, this might simply be a plausible description of most political consultants.
From his perch at the New York Post and on Fox News , Mr. Morris has been campaigning against Mrs. Clinton for months. More than once he confidently predicted that she wouldn’t run. He says he is repelled by her carpetbagging arrival in his home state, and now it also occurs to him that she probably isn’t comfortable around Jews.
That canard doesn’t appear anywhere in his 1997 memoir Behind the Oval Office , which has only nice things to say about the woman who several times brought him back into the Clinton fold, making his fortune and reputation. In a book that unsparingly skewers every Morris adversary, Hillary Clinton comes across as a heroine. He describes her as warm, decent, sincere and sensitive, a tireless crusader for children and an excellent wife and mother.
At one point, he explains that he returned to the First Lady’s good graces partly thanks to Susan Thomases, with whom he shared a bond by virtue of his father’s second marriage to a family friend of hers. “We’re certainly mishpocheh ,” Ms. Thomases told him, using the Yiddish term for family. “And Susan, of course, is Hillary Clinton’s closest friend and adviser,” he notes. She’s Jewish, too.
He also recounts the First Lady’s numerous kindnesses to his aging (and of course Jewish) parents, portraying her as gracious, “loving and caring, quite the opposite of her sometimes strident public image.” His parents’ meeting with her at the White House was, he writes, “probably the happiest moment in the last year of my mother’s life.” And when his mother lay dying a few months later, he continues, Mrs. Clinton “was a major support in my grief and I can never forget that.”
Not for a couple of years, anyway.