- The Washington Times - Friday, August 4, 2000

This is a gag, right? Hillary Clinton she whose political career depends on voters forgetting all the things she can't remember chides the Republican Party for an outbreak of "political amnesia."

"The strategy of the other side is to induce a case of political amnesia in every one of us," she said this week in a speech before the National Urban League that more often verged on personal parody than political promotion. Rattling off a rather skimpy list of supposed Republican crimes against humanity which seem to boil down to George W. Bush's visit to Bob Jones University and two or three of Richard B. Cheney's congressional votes Mrs. Clinton offered her own interpretation of the message of the Republican National Convention: "Just take us as we are and appear in these beautiful pictures that we send out every day."

It would seem that Mrs. Clinton she of the, alas, unforgettable Lewinsky-era snapshot of the Hill-Bill swimsuit pas de deux actually expects voters to believe that she has never, ever released any image-consciously calculated pictures, beautiful or otherwise. But surely, she's kidding herself. Or, rather, is she kidding everyone else? Mrs. Clinton's new stump speech leads one to ponder: Either she is more self-deceiving than previously imagined, or, daring thought, she has decided to remake herself into what they used to call in New York a regular laugh riot.

After all, given the latest Zogby poll, which shows her eight points behind count 'em, eight points in the Senate race with Rick Lazio, she's got to do something. Trotting out Newt Gingrich again for a little political bash 'em, which she also did for the first time in weeks, probably isn't going to do the trick. Nor are frequent invocations (at last count, three times in 30 minutes) of Mr. Cheney's 1986 congressional vote against a nonbinding resolution calling for the recognition of the African National Congress and the release of its leader, Nelson Mandela. Still, she can't seem to resist willfully and recklessly misrepresenting this Cold War-era vote as one devilishly engineered "to keep Nelson Mandela in prison." (Nor can she seem to resist an unbecoming attempt to demote the former defense secretary by repeatedly calling him "Congressman Cheney.") She should try to remember that is, if her own amnesia ever abates that Punch and Judy shows went out long ago.

But there were more laughs in store. Mrs. Clinton she of the Listening Tour, that painstakingly choreographed, year-long processional over New York hill and dale went on to castigate the Republicans for putting on a "well-scripted show." This is rich. If the Listening Tour had been any further scripted, it would have to have been registered with the Writers Guild. Nonetheless, she continued: "We need to ask, 'What will you do when the cameras go away?' And 'What did you do before the cameras arrived?' "

These are excellent questions. In fact, an independent counsel couldn't have asked better. Just imagine if Mrs. Clinton, New York Senate candidate and political amnesiac, ever answered them.

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