Hillary for the Defense

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NEW YORK: What a difference "Today" makes at least for the embattled Clintons. Hillary's interview on the NBC morning show, her first since the crisis began, was the kind of bracing defense of her husband not seen indeed, not needed since 1992. "Not only do I love and believe my husband, I love and believe my country," gushed the First Lady, as she attacked the "vast right-wing conspiracy" she believed to be behind the latest allegations. "Some folks are going to have a lot to answer for," she added.

TIME's Washington deputy bureau chief, Jef McAllister, says Hillary has reason to believe in conspiracy theories. "You look at guys like Jerry Falwell, who's distributing things saying Clinton's a drug dealer and murderer and Ken Starr is deeply tied in with those people." Still, McAllister adds, if the sex scandal allegations are true "it doesn't matter who's behind them."

If nothing else, Hillary did start to fill a great void of unanswered questions at the center of the Lewinsky affair. Example: If it wasn't sexual, has the President told her what the relationship between himself and the intern was? "Yes, and we'll find that out as time goes by," she promised. Did Clinton give Lewinsky gifts? "It's possible," admitted Hillary. "He is a generous person." How did she find out about these allegations? Clinton himself told her. "He woke me up Wednesday morning and said, 'You're not going to believe this, but... I've got to tell you what's in the newspapers.'"

Clinton himself won't speak on the scandal until after the State of the Union, so Hillary's response is something to be grateful for. But her relative candor leaves the couple little room to maneuver in the future. Hillary has promised much in the way of answers now her husband must deliver.