If my recent column on the public interest in Bill and Hillary Clinton's private relationship proved anything about this couple's marriage, it's that the Clinton union remains a topic of fascination and speculation with the American people.
From reviling Bill's behavior to admiring Hillary's decision to make her marriage work, Fox readers offered very strong, and very, very different opinions about the Clinton's. Here's a sample of this week's mail:
Bonnie Green writes:
I believe I would want to physically beat Bill Clinton myself if he publicly humiliated Hillary .... again!
When he first ran for president, I told people I thought Hillary was more qualified than he to be president. She is even more so now. If she doesn't make it to that point it should be due to her own positions or acts of commission or omission.
Men hold back women all of the time. Yes, I'd believe I would want to beat him myself, as somehow I would see him holding back Hillary as him holding back my own daughter.
Helen Cavalier writes:
After all the sensationalism and sadness of the Monica Lewinsky affair, I have always been puzzled over the years that, to my knowledge, the Americam people have never stood up for or even recognized the great sacrifice and gift that Hillary Clinton gave to our country by maintaining her dignity and staying with President Clinton.
Yes, it probably would have been easier for her to flee and find quiet sanctuary somewhere out of the limelight and give him his just reward, but, has anyone ever thought of what the consequences would have been to the leadership and perception of your country? Not only was the president a mess and barely functioning at that time, I truly believe Hillary leaving him would have finished him emotionally.
Also, has anyone ever stopped to think what chaos the White House would have been left in if the First Lady just upped and walked out?
I really, truly, believe in my heart that America owes, and will always owe, Hillary Clinton a huge debt of gratitude and respect for putting her role as First Lady before her own personal devastation of a betrayed wife.
I really hope that someday, somewhere along the way, Hillary's heroic and unselfish act will be acknowledged and she will receive the thanks and the respect of the American people that she so deserves for the great sevice she performed at that time.
SRE: What an eloquent point you make, Helen. And what a mess it would have been for the country (in addition to the mess we faced…). Best, Susan.
Jim McFarland of Lynchburg, Va., writes:
No, Madame: Bill Clinton does not owe Hillary Clinton; he owes us, the American people, an apology for spending so much time on the phone, under the desk and in the private areas of the White House with a certain intern.
Perhaps if he'd taken his job more seriously, we wouldn't have suffered 9/11?
Politicians have a right to a private life, (Bill Clinton included), but being on the phone with important people while being engaged with Ms. Lewinski's attentions goes beyond what most employers would call "private." How many people could keep their jobs if that's what they did at work?
My question for you is this: how many newspeople (print, television, radio) are faithful to their wives or husbands or significant others? If the Democratic strategist says politicians, in his experience, were 90 percent unfaithful, one wonders what the press' percentages are. (I'd suspect that they're generally as morally driven as Lyndon Johnson.)
By the way, I am totally faithful to my wife of 11 years.
SRE: Your wife is a lucky woman. Hillary should be so lucky…
Carson Sasser writes:
Your thoughts on this are interesting, but the state of the Clinton's marriage is not going to defeat Hillary if she gets nominated. What will defeat her is her ideas. She wants a national health care system -- a monumentally stupid idea (Yeah, let's put the government in charge of our health care -- a government that repeatedly demonstrates that it can't do anything well, no matter which party is in charge.)
She thinks that "it takes a village," instead of a family, to raise a child -- more communal and government influence and control in individual and family matters.
We anti-Democrats (we don't call ourselves Republicans since the buffoonish Bush presidency) out here are hoping that Hillary will be nominated.
SRE: But who will you pick to beat her? It takes a horse to beat a horse, as my father used to say.
Mayda Cameron writes:
"I’d like Katie Couric to ask Hillary Clinton what message she thinks it sends to young women that she, maybe the most powerful woman in the world and a role model to millions of women, is willing to look the other way while her husband carried/carries on with other women. . . ."
It means she loves her husband, the father of her daughter. It means she can forgive and is willing to do the hard work necessary to save an important relationship. It means she's tenacious, optimistic and strong. It means she's one of us; a wife and mother who's weathered the bad times with dignity.
SRE: Great answer!
Laura C. writes:
If people have an issue with a president philandering in the White House, then they will also have an issue with the president's spouse doing the same. And if people had an issue with the president philandering in office, they won't want that same person behaving the same way in the white house as the president's spouse.
In other words, I don't think we should give Big Bill an opportunity to parade "Little Willy" out for the interns again!
From another reader:
Ms. Estrich, why do you suppose most level headed people with no agenda would care, much less want, two people to divorce because one of them allegedly committed adultery? Hillary has shown that one can at least try and work through the vows that you take prior to marriage. It should be a lesson to us all!
SRE: So why doso many people seem to care so much? And read my mail: they do.
Marie Durham writes:
Why would I trust a woman to run a country when she cannot even run her own house?
SRE: Was she running his office?
The fact that Hillary stayed with Bill is probably the only thing she's done that I admired. Most women, Republican or Democrat, would have ran for the hills, and no one would have blamed them.
I doubt that staying with him had as much to do with political ambition as people think. In the Christian faith, her forgiveness is seen as selfless and a Godly act of faith. I think she took the high road for the benefit of her family. She held her head high and didn't allow herself to be humiliated by his selfishness and in doing so, she humiliated him greatly.
I would never vote for her because of her liberal politics, so shame on anyone who believes in her politics but would not vote for her because she chose to keep her family intact.
SRE: One thing’s for sure: there is no consensus on this point.
Susan Estrich is currently the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California and a member of the Board of Contributors of USA Today. She writes the "Portia" column for American Lawyer Media and is a contributing editor of The Los Angeles Times. She was appointed by the president to serve on the National Holocaust Council and by the mayor of the City of Los Angeles to serve on that city's Ethics Commission.
A woman of firsts, she was the first woman president of the Harvard Law Review and the first woman to head a national presidential campaign (Dukakis). Estrich is committed to paving the way for women to assume positions of leadership.
Books by Estrich include "Real Rape," "Getting Away with Murder: How Politics is Destroying the Criminal Justice System" and "Dealing with Dangerous Offenders." Her book "Making the Case for Yourself: A Diet Book for Smart Women," is a departure from her other works, encouraging women to take care of themselves by engaging the mind to fight for a healthy body. Her latest book, The Los Angeles Times bestseller, "Sex & Power," takes an impassioned look at the division of power between men and women in the American workforce, proving that the idea of gender equality is still just an idea.