I'll Give You One More Chance — If You Bomb the Balkans

A new biography of the first lady suggests that NATO's intervention in Kosovo was all a ploy for the President to earn his wife's forgiveness for Monicagate.

  • Remember when the U.S. attacked Kosovo, and everybody accused the President of "wagging the dog" — attacking a Central European country to divert public attention away from a sex scandal? Well, it turns out Bubba may have just been trying to get back in the good graces of his wife. At least that's the history of the Balkan conflict according to the First Lady's latest biographer, Gail Sheehy. In her forthcoming book "Hillary's Choice," Sheehy says that at the height of Monicagate, an enraged and humiliated Hillary went eight months without talking to her husband, before calling him from Africa last March with a directive to attack Kosovo. In an interview Monday night on NBC's "Dateline," Sheehy said that at the time of the request, the President was so eager to get himself out the doghouse that he obliged the missus and the next day asked his NATO buddies to join him in an aerial attack on the Balkans.

    While the story, true or not, could prove embarrassing for the President, the First Lady has a lot more to lose if this story has legs. "I think the President has shown he's not affected by this stuff too much," says TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan. "But it could obviously fuel Hillary's opponent in the New York Senate race." Branegan cautions that Rudolph Giuliani will "have to be careful with the Kosovo issue, because voters have shown clearly they're not into negative campaigning this year, and there's a remarkable lack of mudslinging because of it." But tongue-biting is not the specialty of the man nicknamed "Mayor Meanie," who in the past year has beat up on everyone from cabdrivers to homeless people to jaywalkers. So as the Senate race heats up, Hillary should be prepared for a fresh onslaught of Kosovo bombs.