WASHINGTON – I talked to Robin Williams once, about breasts.
In 1993, when he played a prim British nanny in “Mrs. Doubtfire,” I went to interview him at his Pacific Heights house.
“It’s great to be this blue-mouthed old lady hitting on somebody,” he said, in his character’s soft Scottish burr, “opening your blouse and saying, ‘What about these? Behold my dirty pillows, my fun bags. Come nurse at the fountain of bliss.’”
He was 42 then, wearing his Popeye outfit, a blue-striped T-shirt and black baggy jeans. Surrounded by kids, a rabbit and an iguana, we talked about everything from John Belushi to his father, a stern Ford Motor Co. executive.
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As our interview ended, I was telling him about my friend Michael Kelly’s idea for a 1-900 number, not one to call Asian beauties or Swedish babes, but where you’d have an amorous chat with a repressed Irish woman. Williams delightedly riffed on the caricature, playing the role of an older Irish woman answering the sex line in a brusque brogue, ordering a horny caller to go to the devil with his impure thoughts.
I couldn’t wait to play the tape for Kelly, who doubled over in laughter.
So when I think of Williams, I think of Kelly. And when I think of Kelly, I think of Hillary Clinton, because Michael was the first American reporter to die in the Iraq invasion, and Hillary was one of the 29 Democratic senators who voted to authorize that baloney war.
The woman who always does her homework, the woman who resigned as president of Wellesley College’s Young Republicans over the Vietnam War, made that vote without even bothering to read the National Intelligence Estimate and its skimpy evidence.
It was obvious in real time that the Bush crew was arbitrarily switching countries, blaming 9/11 on Saddam so they’d get more vivid vengeance targets and a chance to shake up the Middle East chessboard, and that officials were shamelessly making up the threat as they went along.
For me to believe that Hillary would be a good president, I would need to feel that she had learned something from that deadly, globe-shattering vote – a calculated attempt to be tough and show that, as a Democratic woman, she was not afraid to use power.
Yet, she’s still at it.
With the diplomatic finesse of a wrecking ball, the former diplomat gave an interview to Jeffrey Goldberg, a hawk, of The Atlantic – a calculated attempt to be tough and show that, as a Democratic woman, she’s not afraid to use power.
Channeling her pal John McCain, she took a cheap shot at President Barack Obama when his approval rating on foreign policy had dropped to 36 percent, calling him a wimp just as he was preparing for airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group.
As one Democrat noted, citing the callous Clintonian principle that unpopular things make foolish investments: “If Obama was at 63 instead of 36, she’d be happy to be Robin to his Batman.”
It’s not that she’s too old, despite nasty cracks on conservative websites like the Washington Free Beacon. It’s that she’s too old-think, thrusting herself forward as a hawk at a time when hawks – in the season of Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul – aren’t so cool. Americans are sick of the idea that we should plunge in and plant our flag in the ground and work out the details later. It’s a complicated world, where you cross the border from Syria to Iraq and your allies are the enemy.
Hillary booed the president and said that, as secretary of state, she had wanted to do more to help the Syrian rebels. She said that Obama’s “failure” in Syria led to the rise of the Islamic State and sniped about Obama’s slogan: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”
Saying you can’t live by slogans is rich, coming from someone whose husband’s presidency was built on “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Besides, a Times article by Tim Arango and Eric Schmitt demonstrated that “at every turn” the rise of the Islamic State’s self-styled caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been shaped by the United States’ involvement in Iraq, putting the ball of blame back in Hillary’s court.
The neocon Weekly Standard gleefully printed her remarks with her byline under the headline: “Special Guest Editorial: Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures.” And Vice used the headline: “Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Is Already Terrifying.”
David Axelrod tartly tweeted: “Just to clarify: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision.”
Hillary may know that she seemed unseemly. She called Obama to assert that she wasn’t attacking him, trying to avoid an awkward encounter when they both attend a Vernon Jordan party Wednesday night at the Martha’s Vineyard golf course where the president has been relaxing while the world explodes.
After buoying Hillary, Obama is learning the truth of another unofficial slogan in politics: “The Clintons will be there when they need you.”