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Published: Sunday, 6/15/2003

It takes a politician

It all seems so calculated. The book, the media tour, the pressed and polished public appearances. One can't help but get the feeling that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton knows exactly what she's doing by hawking her newest book, a memoir of her life before and during her marriage and the White House years.

Speculation about the author's motivation for making and publicizing her Living History autobiography almost outpaces in-depth discussion about the book itself. There is a politician's measured manner, always in control, always well-rehearsed, on display in Hillary's media interviews, which tease but never really tell the inside scoop of her tumultuous White House experience.

The juiciest part of the book, dealing with Bill's confession about his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky and the former first lady's temptation to wring his neck, was leaked before the book even went on sale. That gave media stars like Barbara Walters and Katie Couric the green light to lob a few softballs to their supremely self-assured guest about the bad hand she'd been dealt.

But again, it's almost as if the shrewd junior senator from New York intended for the personal and humiliating questions about her marriage and Bill's cheating heart to be dealt with and done with. After that, her personal reminiscences of life with Bill and Chelsea make for easy coffee table talk.

By design Hillary keeps it safe and simple in her book, whether revealing much about her various hairstyles and fashion makeovers or touching lightly, if at all, on stickier subjects like impeachment, travelgate, Whitewater, and how subpoenaed billing records from her old law firm suddenly surfaced in the White House.

Hillary, the policy wonk with a lawyer's preciseness, prefers to dwell on the political successes and defeats that she and her husband shared. It's sort of a pre-meditated public catharsis to make the Hillary Clinton slate clean for future campaigns.

She is repeatedly asked about plans to run for president in 2008 and repeatedly answers that she has no intention of running.

But in her interview on the Larry King Show, when the host persisted in pushing the author about her presidential ambitions, a usually guarded Senator Clinton said again she has no plans to run, but then added those telling words: “at this time.” How calculating.

No wonder the media blitz about Hillary's book looks increasingly like a trial run for higher office.

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