Hillary and the Inquisitor

“Mrs Clinton, we are aware that as a candidate to the Presidency you have shown a great deal of composure and assurance before the probing questions of a number of panels, television hosts, press conferences and those ad hoc conferences on the way to the elevators, the bar or the relief habitats. How did you develop such talent?’

“The hard way. In this business you are liable to run into all kind of inquisitors some of whom search for the way to make you contradict yourself, disguise the truth of a given situation or evade the questions as best you can. Disraeli said that official inquiries are like visits to the dentist; either you bite the hand that tortures you or you lose the tooth!”

“Any special incidents?”

“As a matter of fact I was just thinking about one of the first grillings I had. I was questioned by a Senator known for his dislike of my party, our ideology, our history and my person. It appeared like a personal form of some imaginary revenge or perhaps some atavistic hatred. Let me recount the incident.

“The first few minutes of the session were enough to unnerve a school bus. For a moment there, the Inquisitor looked as if he would scream the moment I sat down in front of him. He had raised a copy of the Constitution in his right hand and with his left index finger pointed at it with vehemence. But he did not say a word. Instead, he looked at me, who had taken pains to dress tastefully and, I hoped, appeared relaxed and not in the least nervous or apprehensive. His look was a mixture of hatred and, somehow, a tiny glimmer of envy. I realized that my dress was a stunning, yet sober creation that was elegant and solemn. He almost forgot that I was a witness in a national inquiry.

At last, he came out of his momentary lapse and putting the Constitution down, said:

“Now, we have irrefutable evidence that during your last year in High School, you placed no less than 8 pieces of chewed gum under your desk. This offense has not been discovered until recently thanks to the untiring work of our trained investigators. You realize that defacing government property is a federal offense. Further, I feel that your silence all these years has probably been its own punishment, by keeping this onerous offense locked in your heart, if you happen to have one. . .”

I looked at the Inquisitor squarely in the eye and replied in my well modulated voice, enhanced with a slight trace of a Midwestern accent:

“If I recall correctly, there were 9 pieces of regular Spearmint Wrigley’s Chewing Gum, 5 Adams, 2 Bubble gums and one piece of anchovy that had stuck to my braces. Your Inquisitors do not seem very proficient. They also missed the traffic ticket I never paid when I was vacationing in Millinocket in Maine in 1968. That was August 19 at about 6 P.M., your Honor. Or should I call you your Blessed and Exalted Excellency?”

“Sarcasm will get you nowhere. Now, what about the files?”

“What files?”

“The ones that turned up at your family quarters in the White House”

“Sir, when we moved form Arkansas to Washington, we packed 165 boxes with books, records, pictures, Oxford awards, Rhodes certificates, photo albums, old letters, hand written copies of my husband’s letters to girlfriends of his, and a complete music sheet library of popular tunes for saxophone and claves. From my office, we shipped 92 boxes with files, old bills, last wills, college thesis, legal briefs, yellow pads, pencils and green leather pillows. We put all the boxes in Vice President Quayle’s office, which is now the laundry room, and began taking some upstairs as the need arose.”

“Like what?”

“Well, the saxophone sheet music for one. My husband helps my mood by blowing a couple of old romantic tunes once in a while, you know. . ”

“How about the files from your legal days?”

“Same thing. My secretary brings up a box occasionally when looking for old correspondence and records. Most people keep old boxes in the attic and once in a while get a box down when they look for something. The only difference is that we use an ex-Vice President’s office instead of an attic and bring boxes to rooms that were once occupied by Washington, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman and Carter.”

The Senator’s eyes lit up. He leaned forward and in his usual aggressive tone concluded:

“Ah! You admit moving the boxes! Just what I thought! It is clear to this investigating committee that you have been guilty of tampering and concealment of evidence. . .”

I had no recourse other assuming a serious tone when I replied before he had finished the question:

“Your Exalted Honor, or whatever, first of all this is not a trial. It is more like a voluntary deposition and my appearance here answers to Article 23, Paragraph 51 of section 122 of Chapter 9 of the Derivative Amplified Legal Introspection code of 1932. You are certainly familiar also with the protection afforded me by several legal precedents such as the Timmons versus State of Idaho in 1912, the famous Pickering and Barton case against the Caspian Society of Irvine, California and the well publicized decision involving Garcia Pacheco Morales and the San Bernardino City Council. Any questions?”

The Inquisitor heard every word but his mind was elsewhere. He kept looking at me with a great deal of interest. I know that the dress gave me unique poise and elegance. It was clear to me that it made him wonder how it would look on him. His mood changed and he smiled to himself. But this time it was a soft look, full of admiration and maybe even envy.