Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hillary Didn't Have Ghost of a Chance

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hillary Didn't Have Ghost of a Chance

Article excerpt

This one went way over the top. I mean, first lady Julia Tyler may have levitated tables in the White House, Mrs. Lincoln may have held seances, and Mrs. Reagan consulted her astrologer. But does anyone really believe that Hillary Rodham Clinton was chatting with Eleanor Roosevelt's ghost in the solarium?

Even Alfonse D'Amato would have a hard time getting this story down past his windpipe.

But there it was, front and center under tabloid headlines that screamed "Hillary's Guru!" and magazines that snidely suggested, "Hillary's Other Side." The networks talked about the first lady's "spiritual advisers." The wire services wrote about her "consciousness-raising guru."

In the wake of assorted and distorted interviews about Bob Woodward's new book, we were left to believe that Hillary was communing with the weird and channeling the dead. Speaking in Rooseveltian tongues.

Indeed, the "adviser," Jean Houston, was made to seem like a palm reader and her colleague, Mary Catherine Bateson, sounded like a psychic. After Woodward described Houston as someone on the fringe, the media search was on for excerpts from her work that read like the tassels on the fringe.

Well, I admit that the language of the human-potential movement will never roll off my tongue. Nor do I have a sign posted on my door like the one on Houston's: "I now choose to make my life light and easy and joyful."

But this student of Joseph Campbell and Margaret Mead, a woman who believes in the importance of cultural myths and archetypal figures, isn't doing Saturday night seances. For that matter, Bateson, a cultural anthropologist and daughter of Mead, has been writing about the way women redefine their lives since her book, "Composing a Life," became a hit - dare I say a cult hit - among women.

No, this was not Nancy Reagan changing the president's flight schedule because the moon was in Aquarius. This was a first lady trying to make sense of the battering she'd taken by holding an imaginary conversation with another battered lady.

As Bateson says with some amazement at the uproar, "Nobody had any illusion that the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt turned up. …

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