Monday, November 19, 2001

There was no splash to speak of just thunk, thunk, thunk, as news bulletins on Bill, Hillary Rodham and Chelsea Clinton flashed into the swirl of events. The former president, already on our minds for saying we had September 11 coming to us because of slavery and the conquest of the American Indian, resigned from the Supreme Court bar last Friday, forty days after the high court insisted he explain why he shouldn’t have to. He couldn’t.

While Bill Clinton’s resignation from the Supreme Court bar belongs to history, his wife and daughter’s contributions to the news are something else. They enlarge upon the Clintons’ near-mythic quality for getting caught telling conflicting stories. After comparing Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s accounts of their experiences on September 11, an exercise first undertaken by Internet reporter Matt Drudge, it becomes clear that somebody needs to “fess up.” Sen. Clinton told NBC’s “Dateline” of her fears for a daughter who, as the World Trade Center was coming under attack, was capping a morning jog around Battery Park and the twin towers with a cup of coffee nearby. “And that’s when the plane hit,” Mrs. Clinton recalled, adding specifically that her daughter had heard the impact and seen the smoke. Terrifying, right? It took two hours, by Mrs. Clinton’s reckoning, to learn that her daughter was safe. There was one problem. By Chelsea Clinton’s account, she couldn’t have been that daughter.

Writing in Talk magazine, Miss Clinton recounts the fateful day that began for her not with a morning jog to Battery Park, not with a lap around the twin towers, and not with a cup of coffee downtown, but with a phone call alerting her to the attack as she lounged in a friend’s apartment miles from mayhem on Park Avenue South. “I stared senselessly at the television,” she writes, noting that she spoke briefly with one of her mother’s aides immediately following one of the crashes.

Calling Mom’s office was a nice, normal reaction. Too bad Mom forgot. (All that coffee and smoke must have clouded a memory that was never so hot to begin with.) What strikes one as downright weird, though, were Miss Clinton’s next thoughts: “I was worried that, with the tax cut, we wouldn’t have enough money to repair New York and D.C. and to help the families of the thousands I knew must have died.” The sky is falling, and she’s worried about tax cuts: This is a true Clinton.

Mom’s worried about the tax cut, too. Mrs. Clinton told CNN that the Bush tax cut “undermined … our ability to deal with this new threat of terrorism.” Well, which is it? The husband says it’s slavery, etc. that got us into this fix, while the wife says it’s the Bush tax cut. These people really need to get their stories, no matter how ridiculous, straight.

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