- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2000

Where to hang his hat? In a post-White House world, President Clinton might opt for a swank roost above urban lights or a nifty manse by a manicured fairway.
There's always Chappaqua.
But wait. During a quiet moment aboard Air Force One recently, Mr. Clinton revealed exactly where he would go come January.
He intends to live with his mother-in-law, Dorothy Rodham, down in Little Rock, once all is said and done. It is a subtle moment of truth.
In theory, Mr. Clinton could fuss over his $152 million library during the week, then fly up to his wife's pretty colonial home in New York's Westchester County when the spirit moves him.
That's the plan, anyway, despite persistent rumors that a jaunty Mr. Clinton might head for Hollywood or Manhattan.
But Little Rock it is at least for now.
Besides, Dorothy Rodham is a favorite. She is a spirited octogenarian who has been a steadfast presence in Mr. Clinton's life these past few years.
"I really like her," Mr. Clinton said. "We really get along."
Mom Rodham offers a refuge and some blessed silence from the caterwaul of press and the final months of a controversial presidency. Things are normal there.
There is always an easy chair for Mr. Clinton, or perhaps an order of barbecue from Shug's, a favorite eatery. Here, he can watch the Arkansas Razorbacks on TV, or admire the greenery.
It's not Graceland, or the Watergate.
This refuge is a comfortable condominium, tucked away in the cliffs near the Arkansas River, in a part of town called Hillcrest Heights.
Two golf course are nearby; the streets have genteel names like Rivermist Court and Lilac Lane. Mrs. Rodham moved to Little Rock from Illinois in 1989, and has lived alone since the death of her husband, Hugh, six years ago.
She has also been an intensely private person. There have been no blabby articles in women's magazines, no on-camera tell-alls.
She has given only two major interviews since Mr. Clinton took office, revealing that Hillary is savvy and sensitive, but her emotions are in check. She liked Bill Clinton, she said, and thought he was good for her daughter.
Even with such limited press, Mrs. Rodham emerged as a wise woman. She did not butt into her daughter's business, or dole out excruciating motherly advice. The pair, as Mrs. Rodham gently put it, don't discuss "deeply personal things."
Such a trait might prove salubrious to a president on the cusp of reinvention. But Mrs. Rodham and Mr. Clinton have another thing in common.
Both had less than perfect childhoods.
Though Mrs. Rodham was often painted as a consummate 1950s mother in many press reports, she struggled as a youngster. At 8, she was abandoned by her divorced parents and sent to live with grandparents. She went to work at 14.
"She had terrible obstacles, but she vowed she would break the pattern of abandonment in her family. And she did," Mrs. Clinton said of her mother last year during an interview with reporters about family dysfunction.
Mrs. Rodham has traveled the world with the first family. They have been to China, Korea, India, Australia. She is close with granddaughter Chelsea and is quick to remind the Clintons that despite everything, there are blood ties here.
Chelsea, she has said, reminds her of Hillary.
In the world's most publicized moving day last summer, Mrs. Rodham lent a note of normalcy to the proceedings, unpacking boxes and easing her daughter's transition from first lady to candidate for U.S. senator.
Now it is Mr. Clinton's turn to switch careers. And Mrs. Rodham is there.
Life, she has said in the past, is a matter of maintaining one's equilibrium.
"Imagine having a carpenter's level inside you. You try to keep that bubble in the center," she told a reporter, brandishing one of the slender tools. "Sometimes, it will go way up here and you have to bring it back."

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide