Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Heat in That White House Kitchen

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Heat in That White House Kitchen

Article excerpt

DAN QUAYLE possesses a sly wit no one seems to notice. He had everyone laughing at a Monitor breakfast recently, quipping, "I noticed that Clinton said the other day he thought he was the most attacked person in history."

Quayle took some liberty with the quote. President Clinton actually said, "I've been subject to more assaults than any previous president." But Quayle's point was on the mark. The criticism he has taken since being named No. 2 on the ticket in 1988 has never let up. Mr. Clinton gets a respite now and then.

Actually, in December Clinton was pleased with the way life was treating him, including his relationship with the press. He has since been beset with questions about Whitewater, his personal conduct, and his foreign policy problems. That's why he apparently sees himself as being so abused these days.

Harry Truman had the perfect answer for presidents who feel under siege: If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Yet in several interviews, first at his office in Kansas City, and later at his library in Independence, Mo., I found President Truman could heat up when he talked about how the press had, in his view, gotten something wrong about him.

Then there's the flawed view, even among some historians, that President Kennedy had a wonderful relationship with the media. True, he had a lot of pals in the press; and he did receive a very good press.

But Mr. Kennedy hated criticism of any kind, particularly the daily scalding he was getting from the New York Herald-Tribune, a paper he canceled. Other reporters told me of occasions when Kennedy had complained about what they had written about him.

Kennedy seemed rather thin-skinned during the presidential primaries. At one point he was unhappy about my coverage of the then-upcoming Wisconsin primary and let me know this in no uncertain words in a lengthy letter. …

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