Communication as ManipulationrnThe Case of Hillary Rodham Clintonrnby Janet Scott BarlowrnIn her chosen role as doting public grandmother to both Billrnand Hillary Clinton, columnist Mary McGrorv is ever on thernalert for opportunities to whip from her journalistic handbagrnher favorite images of those two extraordinary kids. In truerngrandma-like fashion, she is transfixed by their every utterancernand sees their failures as simpl)’ an excess of good intentions.rnOf Bill, she wrote in August—neariy three years after his electionrn—that he had just “made a remarkable discovery. I le hasrnfound out that he is President.” Ms. McGrory therebv provedrnthe truism that grandmothers delight in behavior others findrnstupefying.rnMary McGrory’s deepest feelings, howe’cr, are reserved forrnHillary. Indeed, she feels Mrs. Clinton’s pain, calling the FirstrnLady “poor girl” when the public mistakes for overreaching herrnenergetic willingness to apply herself. After informing all whornwould listen of young Bill’s winsome discovery of his presidentialrnstatus, a now-suffering McGrory wrote that as for Hillary,rnshe is in “a post-[’94] election slump,” for which “a return tornglobal splendors might compensate.” Further, “life has notrnbeen much fun for the bright, ambitious woman who dreamedrnof being co-President [so] a little adulation might lift her spirits.”rnTo top it all off for the distressed McGrory, Hillary “writesrna column that has not caught on.”rnWhat’s to be said when Grandma goes off the deep end?rnBlinded by adoration, Ms. McGrory is hopelessly oblivious tornthe fact that neither Hillary Clinton’s adulation needs nor herrnfun quotient is high on the list of the citizenry’s concerns. As arnprofessional writer, however, Mary McGror surely understandsrnwhy Mrs. Clinton’s column has not “caught on”: it isn’t anyrngood. This single honest observation might, in turn, help Ms.rn]anet Scott Barlow writes from Cincinnati.rnMcGrory understand why Hillary’s “bright, ambitious” plan tornbe co-President never caught on cither: it was a really lous’rnidea.rnI laving read Hillary Clinton’s columns, along with many ofrnher major speeches of the last three years—having read, that is,rnher organized premeditations, what she wanted said—I havernconcluded that for Mrs. Clinton, language, like many otherrnthings, possesses no intrinsic beauty or integrity—and thereforernimposes no obligations on its use—but is merely a tool to advancerna higher cause. It isn’t a means of communication but arnehicle for manipulation.rnThe First Lady uses language in order to obscure. In her column,rnwhose intended audience is “average” Americans andrnwhose purpose is to “warm” Mrs. Clinton’s image, her use ofrnlanguage obscures the fact that she is saying, essentially, nothing.rnIn her speeches to political and professional groups, herrnmeans are the same but her intent is the opposite: words, awkwardrntorrents of them, are used to veil ideas whose meaning isrneither incoherent or preposterous.rnLet us consider first her newspaper column. It is, in a word,rnawful: shallow, insipid, badly written. Last September, ninthgradersrnall across the country wrote “summer vacation” essaysrnthat were more scintillating than Mrs. Clinton’s offering on therntopic. “I will always remember,” she wrote of a magical triprnduring her college years, “the wonder I felt touring the lakerncountry in England, wandering through Paris and exploring therngreat monuments and museums in Italy.” Lest her status bernforgotten, however, Mrs. Clinton inserted into her vacationrnreveries of “long games of pinochle, swimming, fishing . . . andrnwalks” a more recent recollection; “I remember once explainingrnto German Chancellor Helmut Kohl that we were hopingrnto get a few davs off later in the year. He was going to spend arn16/CHRONICLESrnrnrn