To: Hillary Clinton

From: Gene Weingarten

Re: James Carville's offer of $100,000 to me or any other reporter who can prove you said what we said you said.

Please tell your friend James that his money is safe. I give up.

After re-reading the article in Talk magazine, I have come to the conclusion that a case could be made that you did not "attribute" your husband's philandering to tensions in his childhood household, as I and others wrote. I apologize.

I make this humble declaration after spending 15 minutes with a jeweler's loupe, an X-acto knife and a human hair. It can be done.

In the article, you called Bill's womanizing a "weakness." Then you suggested that this weakness--irresponsibility and lack of discipline, you said--was caused by Bill's "background." Then, in the next paragraph, you discussed his background, observing that he was "scarred" by a terrible conflict between his mother and grandmother. You said a psychologist told you this sort of conflict was "the worst possible situation" for a boy, making him try to accommodate both female relatives (the implication being that he would grow up to be a man with a need to please multiple women).

You said A was caused by B, and B was caused by C. However--and here is where we all got it wrong-- you were in no way implying that A was caused by C. This should have been plain.

Suppose, for example, that in a magazine article I disclosed that I had a lump on my head. And then, in an entirely separate paragraph, I explained that I had been hit in the head with a rolling pin. Some stupid reporter might conclude I was saying I have a lump on my head because someone had hit me with a rolling pin. When obviously what I was really saying was that it was my own damn fault and why does everyone keep insisting on talking about lumps, but just the same, it's wise to be careful around rolling pins.

Anyway, Hillary, I am sorry. And since we are now friends, I hope it is okay if I make four observations.

First, at the risk of resorting to disagreeable semantic gymnastics, it all depends on what the meaning of "id" is. Doesn't it?

Second, I think you should revisit that psychologist and get back any fees you might have paid him. He might be a quack. Because although I am no expert, I can think of a few situations, in the rearing of a boy, that are worse than having Mom and Grandma fight a lot.

My third observation concerns your apparent belief that husbands have affairs reluctantly, for selfless reasons, to please women. As a man, I would like to say that this is a sweet and generous and spectacularly naive view of my gender, and I thank you.

And last, I recommend that you thicken your skin. There is a difference between being a first lady and being a candidate for the United States Senate.

You told reporters in New York on Wednesday that you no longer wished to discuss your husband's infidelity, primly declining to accept further questions on the unseemly subject for the remainder of your campaign.

This is a first lady kind of move, a dignified retreat to the Rose Garden.

Yo, Hillary: We never promised you no Rose Garden.

You are in New York. Things will get less dignified, not more.

As a former member of the New York press corps, I can tell you that reporters there can be pretty rude and hostile. That may be because most of them grew up in close quarters in New York tenement apartments pre-air conditioning--open windows, clotheslines, street sounds. It was sort of like Ralph and Alice and Ed and Trixie, with women in aprons shouting at each other.

And you know how that sort of thing can twist a guy.