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Jewish World Review Dec. 31, 2002 / 26 Teves, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Hey, Hillary: Want to appear like a stateswomyn? Stay silent | American attitudes toward Hillary Clinton are a bit like how parents see their small but unruly child: They like him best when he is asleep.

Throughout her career, when Hillary is silent, she gains in popularity - but when she starts talking, she loses support. Her recent decision to become a spokesperson for the Democratic Party in the wake of its fall mishap is misguided and will only lead to an increase in her negative ratings.

Hillary's history tells the story:

As America first met Hillary Clinton, it came to dislike her more and more. Her outspoken refusal to "stay at home and bake cookies" almost cost her husband the presidency. Then her health-care proposals did cost Democrats control of Congress.

With her negative ratings piling up, it became clear that she and Bill were locked in a zero-sum game. The more she was seen as powerful, the weaker voters felt Bill was. It was only by withdrawing from public - or even White House staff view - that she could repair the damage she had done to the president's image and to her own. She wrote a non-controversial book about raising and educating children and watched it become a best seller as she mouthed platitudes in its support.

Ever since, silence has been Hillary's ally. When Monica burst on our consciousness, Hillary made a particular virtue of saying nothing. After an initial faux pas, in which she denounced the "vast right-wing conspiracy" against Bill, she clammed up for the rest of the impeachment process and earned points for her dignity, even evoking comparisons with Jackie Kennedy's class in the aftermath of her husband's death.

During her campaign for Senate, Hillary spoke a lot and said nothing. Avoiding controversy, she stayed carefully within the four walls of Democratic orthodoxy and made a virtue of silence by saying she was "listening" to the concerns of her new fellow New Yorkers.

When scandal hit, as over her husband's pardons and her parting theft from the White House, she hid under a rock until the smoke cleared.

Her Senate career, thus far, has also shown the rewards of saying nothing. Reluctant to challenge Bush, she has won points for being a good girl. Stories stressed how well she fit in with the Senate club.

Anxious to please, she avoided controversy. She couldn't help the occasional slip as when she attacked Bush from the Senate floor for ignoring warnings of 9/11, but, in the main, she kept her mouth shut.

Of Hillary's public life since 1994, it could be said (as Gilbert and Sullivan wrote of the British House of Lords), "She did nothing in particular, but did it very well."

Now the "old" Hillary seems to be re-emerging, slashing and burning against the Republican agenda, dancing on Trent Lott's grave and attacking Bush for leaving American unsafe in the face of terrorism.

She is pursuing the totally misguided and ludicrously flawed Democratic strategy of engaging Bush by trying to get to the right of him on the terrorism issue, attacking him for leaving us exposed to the threat of a new 9/11.

Like the "old" Nixons that periodically reared their head just after we had been introduced to a "new" Nixon, Hillary is baaaack, attacking and berating her adversaries.

But the old axiom still applies: the less she says, the better she does. In her own interest, Hillary Rodham Clinton should sit down and shut up.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.


12/19/02:Kerry in the lead
12/19/02: Lieberman the frontrunner
12/17/02: In defense of Lott
12/02/02: An issue for Bush: Drugs
11/27/02: Women gone wobbly?
11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2002, Dick Morris