Groundhog Day isn't just a movie.
Here it is early 2014 -- still almost three years away from a new presidency -- but it's high time to mention that Hillary Clinton was a "ruthless" first lady.
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This shocking revelation comes to us courtesy of the Washington Free Beacon -- an online conservative commentary/news site -- that published an article based on the papers of Hillary's good friend, Diane Blair, a University of Arkansas political scientist. Blair's papers were handed over to the university after her death in 2000.
The headline: "The Hillary Papers: Archive of 'closest friend' paints portrait of ruthless First Lady."
Blair's journal included not only her own contemporaneous observations during the Monica Lewinsky saga but also the notes she took while talking on the phone with the then-first lady.
One mustn't speak ill of the dead, they say, but they were Spartans in the 6th century B.C., so whatever. One might at least wonder whether Blair told Hillary she was taking notes that she would release posthumously. That's certainly one form of life insurance. But wouldn't it have been more close-friendish to wait until all parties concerned were enjoying the hereafter before publishing notes that could damage the living?
Hillary has been memed. Effective immediately, she is ruthless.
The Beacon headline was based on a private 1992 poll about Hillary Clinton during her husband's presidential campaign. Although respondents expressed general admiration for the Clintons, they also expressed fear that "only someone too politically ambitious, too strong, and too ruthless could survive such controversy so well."
The pollsters concluded: "What voters find slick in Bill Clinton, they find ruthless in Hillary."
Welcome to Double Standards 101.
But we needn't visit that lecture hall. Instead, let's assume that Hillary Clinton is ambitious, strong and ruthless. Quick, the ink on my palm is fading. Please remind me who those two people are in Washington who don't fit this description.
But Hillary Clinton is sui generis, endlessly fascinating in that love-her-or-hate-her way. To some, she is an intelligent woman who has weathered a 20-year assault with relative grace. To others, she's a pushy broad whose dagger gaze reminds them of a disapproving teacher, or worse. Guess which ones are women and which are men.
What Blair's papers mostly reveal is that Hillary Clinton is a human being who was deeply hurt and humiliated by the Lewinsky affair -- and that she is sometimes profane in private. Men, we admit, are less secretive, often hurling their epithets in public -- even sometimes on the Senate floor.
We also learn that Hillary once referred to Lewinsky as a "narcissistic loony toon," which by most books is a charitable observation.
Perhaps the more apt metaphor for this week's buzz isn't a movie after all but double jeopardy. The case of Hillary, Bill and Monica has been prosecuted and then some. Thus all, especially Hillary, have been politically inoculated against further prosecution on this point. Besides, as some apparently need reminding, Hillary was the victim.
She wasn't the only casualty, however. Also wounded, tragically, was Lewinsky, now 40. Forevermore, her life is a stained blue dress. Though legally of age and consensually available when she began flirting with the president, she ultimately was a naive, misguided kid barely out of college. (Depending on what is revealed in a rumored $12 million tell-all book, I reserve the right to amend the foregoing.)
Meanwhile, Hillary, who has said she forgave her husband years ago, might consider also forgiving Lewinsky. There's nothing like compassion to ruin a ruthless meme. If I were her scriptwriter, she might say something like this:
Everyone is familiar with the marital difficulties Bill and I worked so hard to get through. Yet, some have seen fit to resurrect the past. As I've said before, I forgave my husband a long time ago. Today I'd like to forgive someone else. Monica Lewinsky.
As you've probably read, I once made a disparaging remark about Ms. Lewinsky in confidence to a dear friend. I'm sure you can understand why. I can't apologize for my feelings, but I am sorry I said those things. In any case, that was also a long time ago. We've all matured, become wiser and moved on with our lives. It's time to let the country move on as well.
Thank you for your decency in allowing the past to rest. I'm Hillary Clinton, and I'm the one running for president.
Kathleen Parker's email address is email@example.com.
© 2014, Washington Post Writers Group