Mrs. Patrick Campbell, a Victorian-era actress and a friend of George Bernard Shaw, had it exactly right: "It doesn't matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don't do it in the street and scare the horses." The Clintons should pay heed. They are once again scaring the horses.
The culprit this time is Hillary. She has reopened the whole seamy tale of Oval Office non-sex sex by granting an interview to Talk magazine. Besides being unnecessary, it is so dopey in places we can only conclude that her husband strayed partially because he craved intellectual companionship. Hillary may test well -- and she gives a great speech -- but in matters of common sense she is bit of a ditz. Monica, at least, knew the score.
What can we make of a woman who talks the language of afternoon television -- an amalgam of psychobabble and fortune cookie wisdom, with a dollop of religion here and there? For instance, she attributes her husband's meandering ways to having been "scarred by abuse" -- a conflict, it turns out, between his mother and his grandmother.
"A psychologist once told me that for a boy being in the middle of a conflict between two women is the worst possible situation," she told Talk. "There is always the desire to please each one."
As long as Hillary has brought out the couch, let's put her on it and wonder why she gave this interview. Why open up this subject once again, inflict on us yet more stuff about the Clintons' marriage? I liked it better when Hillary just kept her mouth shut. She had been wronged, but she remained loyal and mum. After all, there was nothing to explain. Most of the country had stuck with Bill Clinton. Why should she be different?
But no. We have to understand that Clinton "is a very good man" who has -- how shall we put it? -- this "weakness." It is something like a birth defect, a grandma-inflicted psychosis that left him panting for almost any woman with a pulse. What's more, Hillary says her husband lied about his affair with Lewinsky not out of expediency but out of consideration for her. "He couldn't protect me," she says, "and so he lied." Such a woman cannot, should she ever reach the Senate, be trusted with government secrets. She'll believe anything.
It turns out that the famous, amorphous "theys" still have it in for Clinton. Among other things, "they are jealous of him." Who are these "theys"? Are they the right-wing conspirators of both myth and fact? We are never told, and the question, it seems, was never asked. "Talk," it turns out, is a misnomer. It should have been called "Listen."
So we don't know how Hillary -- a candidate for the U.S. Senate, after all -- feels on a variety of matters. We would like to know if Hillary thinks it was okay for Bill to lie to the grand jury. We would like to know if she agrees with his definition of sex. We would like to know -- as long as we've got her for an interview -- what happened to those Rose law firm billing records and how come she never heard of Castle Grande and. . . . But Talk does not ask. Talk is in speechless awe.
Little wonder. The magazine accompanied Hillary on at least two overseas trips and found she left miracles in her wake. "Without her, we would have no economic boom," says the secretary of state for Northern Ireland. When she walks into a mosque in Egypt, she does so "like a common Egyptian woman." In Morocco, the U.S. ambassador courageously and, no doubt, candidly, credits his boss's wife with putting "the spotlight" on that country. No one has anything even mildly critical to say about her.
But Talk has done Hillary no favor. Instead, the article raises real questions about her sagacity, her knowledge of how she sounds to others and -- not least -- her political wisdom. The questions unasked in this piece will be asked by others. Everything's back in play -- including, we are authoritatively told, the Clintons themselves.
"We've slowly seen a physical passion come back into their lives," says Hillary's chief of staff, Melanne Verveer.
The rest of us, though, are still having our Clinton problem. What is the point of dragging us back into the Clinton family quarters? Why do we have to go through this muck again? More and more I hear people saying they just want the Clintons to go. Free us of this mess. Yet here comes Hillary with even more -- his grandmother, his mother, his weakness, his desire to protect her. Stop it!
The horses, as Mrs. Campbell might say, have had it.