Eyes on the Senate, Hillary Shares Her Pain

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Painting Bill Clinton as the emotional equivalent of a troubled four-year old won’t do much for the Leader of the Free World, but it may help the First Lady’s Senate campaign. In a far-reaching interview with Tina Brown’s new magazine, Talk, Mrs. Clinton says the roots of her husband’s infidelities lay in his loyalties being divided at age four by a conflict between his mother and grandmother. Although some of the media speculated that the White House had been blindsided by the interview, TIME Washington correspondent Jef McAllister believes that’s highly unlikely. "This was a carefully thought-out decision," says McAllister. "The writer persuaded her to do the interview on the ground that it would help defuse the issue in her New York Senate race, and the First Lady knows that her own popularity ratings were at their highest during the Lewinsky scandal when she was a woman wronged by her husband."

Although the interview may make the debut issue of Ms. Brown’s new venture the hottest item on this week’s newsstands, it’s not entirely clear that it’ll bounce her clear of New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in what’s shaping up to be a closely-contested Senate race. "Her enemies like to cast her as cold, calculating and ambitious, and sharing her own pain in this interview helps to humanize her," says McAllister. "But that won’t necessarily change anyone’s mind about whether or not they want her representing them in the Senate." And -- wouldn’t you know it -- just as the spotlight falls on Hillary, that Monica Lewinsky goes and gets in a headline grabbing fender bender.