On the campus of Yale University, in 1970, an "odd couple," Hillary Rodham and Bill ("Bubba") Clinton, came together at a Mark Rothko exhibit at the Yale Art Museum. Before the end of that rainy afternoon, they had formed an unbreakable bond forged while they rested on the seat of a Henry Moore... show more
On the campus of Yale University, in 1970, an "odd couple," Hillary Rodham and Bill ("Bubba") Clinton, came together at a Mark Rothko exhibit at the Yale Art Museum. Before the end of that rainy afternoon, they had formed an unbreakable bond forged while they rested on the seat of a Henry Moore sculpture.
They were from completely different worlds—he, a populist from a poverty-stricken background in Arkansas; she, a former "Goldwater Girl" and conservative Republican gradually moving into the liberal camp.
As he sat beside her, holding her hand, she gazed into the eyes of this 210-pound, orange-bearded "Viking," tall and scruffy looking, with an Elvis drawl. He’d later jokingly claim, "I identified with Elvis since both of us had hillbilly peckers."
Freshly emerged from Wellesley College, with its "coven of lesbians," she was a budding feminist—pimply faced, wearing no makeup but with Mr. Magoo eyeglasses, and walking around on chubby legs. He had all the pretty women he wanted. What he was looking for was a woman with a "sense of strength and self-possession—all in all, that afternoon, I knew I’d found my Evita."
He confided to her that since the age of seven, he had only one abiding ambition—and that was to be the President of the United States. He promised her, "If elected, I will pave the way for you to become the first woman president. You can follow after my administration." He held out the prospect of making her the most powerful woman on the planet. As she recalled, "I was giddy with emotion."
It took a while, but he finally lured her to Arkansas, which she interpreted as "on the other side of the moon."
Crossing the welcome mat at his Scully Street house, she came face to face with her future mother-in-law, Virginia Cassidy Blyth, Clinton, Dwire, Kelley. She stood in the kitchen in her stiletto heels evocative of a drag revue, wearing garish lipstick—"the brighter the better"—and a tight "Dinah Dors" sweater. As Virginia recalled, "It was an immovable object colliding with an irresistible force. I extended my hand to this Chicago carpetbagger with coke bottle glasses."
"I’m going to marry this gal," Bubba announced. "She’s going to become the First Lady of Arkansas."
In the days ahead, Hillary was introduced to other members of this "white trash family" known for its divorces, violence, alcoholism, drug addiction, adultery, and promiscuity. He told her, "I’m a bastard. My father, William Jefferson Blythe, III, had not divorced his wife when he married mama. I took the last name of another husband, Roger Clinton."
Before the end of the first day of her inaugural meeting with Hillary, Virginia warned her, "Put a lock on your lingerie. Otherwise, you’ll find Bill dressing up in your finery after midnight."
Their trail to the White House began in Arkansas, with Hillary helping direct her sex-crazed Bubba into the governor’s seat. "With my back-up, he pursued his dream while I was also chasing a dream of my own. Women can dream harder than any man—in fact, being what they are, I don’t understand why women don’t turn lesbian."
Through the tides of the wars to come, both Hillary and Bill learned that love was a creature of many faces, with ever-changing rules and compromises on the road to their horizon. Often threatening divorce, she remained at his side, interpreting his affairs as minor annoyances. On their stormy seas, they sailed through triumph and tragedy, setbacks and comebacks, the good years and the bad ones, bimbo eruptions, serial infidelities, near bankruptcy with crippling legal bills, impeachment, the stockpiling of post-Presidential millions, and surviving vitriolic scorn that rivaled that of Dr. Goebbels against the Jews. They faced maddening failures and stunning achievements, their love and loyalty enduring through hurricane winds.
She was at his side as the sex-crazed Arkansas Bubba became the notorious "Slick Willie," eventually morphing into "The 21st Century's Greatest Living Elder Statesman."
Hillary herself began her own road to the White House (actually, she had already been there for eight years as First Lady), with stints as a Senator from New York, a failed presidential candidate, and a globe-trotting Secretary of State. She also became one of the country’s leading Democratic visionaries, admired by millions. Of course, that provoked Apocalyptic attacks from her enemies, Senator Mitch McConnell, Senior Republican Senator from Kentucky, trumpeting, "If given power in 2016, she’ll lead us to the Gates of Hell."
One night on Martha’s Vineyard, Hillary had a candid talk with a former First Lady, Jackie Kennedy Onassis. "Bill is a charismatic politician, but also deeply flawed. He has such charm you can always forgive him."
"I know of such men," Jackie said, no doubt recalling her own years with another charismatic president.
"You had Marilyn Monroe to compete with. I have a lesser light—Sharon Stone. Bill was hopelessly gone when she crossed her legs in Basic Instinct.”"
***Hundreds of tantalizing anecdotes fill this book from a writing team already famous for its exposés of both the Kennedys and the Reagans.
As Hillary stares into her uncertain future, she claims, "Before the arrival of the Grim Reaper, Bill and I will change history…for the better, of course."
So This Is That Thing Called Love is not a treatise about politics. It’s a love story probing the boundaries of a relationship between two people who are committed to each other despite the vagaries of life, come what may.
What a ride it’s already been, with more "Second Coming Headlines" looming in the years ahead. There will definitely be a second act for this pair.
As a critic who despises Hillary, but only in private, First Lady Michelle Obama said, "Hillary’s story won’t be over until the Fat Lady sings."