Dear Sarah and Marjorie,
The metaphysics of long-term marriage are not yet clear to me because I have been married for only six weeks. (This includes a champagne-drenched honeymoon split between Paris and a lovely chateau in the South of France.) But I trust the both of you when you say that marriage can really, truly be known only from the inside. Like many of my generation (graying boomer, age 49) I lived with the Mrs.-to-be before we took the plunge. Are the last six weeks in some way different? Yes, indeed they are. For one thing, the candor level has gone way up. No need to beat around the bush as you did when dating; say what’s on your mind, get to the bottom of it. The sense that we are in this thing together and that we would defend each other unto the death if need be set in very quickly. Is this in part what Marjorie means when she says that the Clintons’ have “something big, and maybe even something more sustaining than most twosomes have to get them through 40 or 50 years together”? Power, they say, is the truest aphrodisiac. And as the old song goes: “How little we know … how much to discover … what chemical forces flow, from lover to lover. How little we understand …” and, well, you get the point.
I agree with you, Marjorie, that the view of the Clinton marriage offered in An Invitation to the White House is an oblique response to scorpion-tongued critics who have cast the first family as unfit to rule on moral grounds. This big, glossy Hallmark card shows everything just as it should be. Every serviette and candlestick in order … the warming smell of apple Brown Betty wafting out of the White House kitchen. This is certainly a ceremonial book and superficial, as such things are. But I repeat: The forced domestic coziness is unintentionally poignant, given what has transpired between these two over the last eight years.
What of the next eight years? I suspect that the Clintons will be together for a long time. Hillary Clinton has a long memory and is likely to inflict some payback here and there when the opportunity presents itself. Winning the Senate seat from New York–demolishing the GOP even in its strongest strongholds in this state–has provided her with a measure of revenge. The chaos of the current election will augment Democratic power in the Senate, giving a brainy woman like this one ample opportunity to inflict discomfort on people like Trent Lott, if she is cagey enough to choose her spots. Lott was boorishly dismissive when asked of Hillary’s victory. (Watch for the gender gap, Trent, it could rise up and bite you when you least suspect it.) The ultimate revenge for Hillary would be to march back into the White House for a third Clinton administration–but this one under her own presidency. A chance to dine and decorate anew! Don’t doubt it, girlfriends; the run for la Casa Blanca has clearly crossed her mind. You can already see that gleam in her eye.
P.S.: My own Mrs. just called (wanting to know what I am cooking for dinner) and agrees with the two of you: “You cannot see into marriage from the outside,” she said.
Catch you both later; time to rustle up that grub!