Hillary and the rodeo queens

The most read story on the Washington Post website Thursday was a little number called “Enabler or family defender? How Hillary Clinton responded to husband’s accusers.” As a piece of explanatory journalism it was weirdly imprecise and incomplete.

The Post’s reporter depicts Clinton as a wife whose political enemies, with their endless accusations about her husband’s ever-failing zipper, left her no choice but to defend him “with steely determination.” An old friend describes the Clintons’ attitude: “These people are not going to run over us.”

But who are “these people”? The Post would have you believe they’re all those ill-tempered Republicans. But the statement is more accurate if “these people” are taken to be the women who have been reckless enough to have sex with Bill Clinton.

Their name is legion. Gail Sheehy, author of the admiring biography Hillary’s Choice, provides plenty of details left out of the Post piece. When, for instance, Bill Clinton first planned to run for president, in 1988, a political enemy threatened to make public a list of Bill’s extramarital lovers. The list was very long. Sheehy says Hillary Clinton deputized two of her law partners, Webb Hubbell and Vincent Foster, to invite the women one by one into the imposing Little Rock offices of their law firm, the largest in the state. There the two lawyers confronted the women and generously offered to give them free legal counsel if the list was made public. Hillary attended at least one of the meetings.