CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)



When my father-in-law was alive, one of his favorite newspaper columnists was Rheta Grimsley Johnson, formerly a Scripps-Howard syndicated writer who now works for the Atlanta Constitution.

She’s one of my favorites, too. And although this is Super Bowl Sunday and I had originally planned on writing about the biggest sporting event of the year, I couldn’t let another Sunday pass without commenting on one of Rheta’s recent columns that ran on the Jan. 20 editorial page of this paper. It’s one I took to heart.

In this particular column, headlined, “Mrs. Clinton: The clay heel in high heels,” Rheta takes on the American public and its growing dissatisfaction with the way Hillary Rodham Clinton has handled the Whitewater issues as well as conflicting information concerning the removal of White House Travel Office employees.

About the American public Rheta writes: “It became clear early in the Clinton campaign that Hillary wasn’t going to wash. This country likes its first ladies well-groomed (but not too glamorous), smart (but not impertinent), busy (but not gainfully employed), loyal (but not forgiving). This country likes its first ladies at home baking cookies. Hillary had held a job outside the home. That angered women who don’t and any men easily threatened.”

Now, I can’t speak for the rest of the American citizens, but I can speak for myself. I am not bothered or threatened by the fact Hillary Clinton is a highly intelligent woman and a well-respected attorney. In fact, I am relieved we have a first lady who doesn’t have to consult the stars before starting her day.

I don’t care how many times she changes her hairstyle, whether she puts on or takes off a few pounds, to what school she sends Chelsea or what decor she chooses for the White House’s personal quarters. And I even don’t care that she is involved in helping push the White House agenda, sitting in on meetings and traveling the country trying to sell the American public on issues that concern her and her husband.

Mrs. Clinton made it clear during the campaign she wanted to be a visible part of the goings-on of White House policy. Hillary, along with her husband and the White House staff, made it quite clear she was capable of handling the responsibilities that come with being a part of the decision-making process. But when the campaign bus rides across the country subsided and the real world of White House life and all that comes with it including intense scrutiny set in, being first lady just wasn’t so fun after all.

Suddenly, as questions arose about past financial dealings and her ties to the travel office debacle, Mrs. Clinton’s answers were less than forthcoming. It’s campaign politics, she says about Whitewater. Things weren’t handled well because I was new and naive, she says about Travelgate.

The American public, asked nearly four years ago to see the first lady in a different light, to accept her as part of the team, now is criticized for not being more respectful or compassionate toward Hillary. But the truth of the matter is, Hillary made her bed and is now complaining about the hard lumps.

So, Rheta, though I have chosen a different path than you and Mrs. Clinton – to stay at home and clean house, cook meals, wash clothes, pay bills, run errands, write a weekly column and, most important, raise a child – I am still responsible for the errors of my ways. And no one, including the first lady, is exempt from that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I suddenly have an urge to bake cookies.

Mary Farrell Thomas writes a weekly column for the Daily Journal.

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