Hillary Clinton looms so large in the political landscape today, it’s hard to remember when she didn’t.
But, in fact, she was relatively unknown to most Americans until January 26, 1992.
On that Sunday night, Hillary and her husband Bill Clinton appeared together on 60 Minutes, in a heavily watched interview with Steve Kroft that aired right after the Superbowl.
Their goal was to defuse “rumors” about Bill’s extramarital affairs with Gennifer Flowers and other women while he was Governor of Arkansas.
They didn’t quite directly address the “bimbo eruption” issue.
However, Bill did admit he had “caused pain” in their marriage. And they both tried to make it clear that they loved each other and their marriage was sound.
The most remembered quote from the interview was uttered by Hillary, when she said (emphatically):
“You know, I’m not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man, like Tammy Wynette. I’m sitting here because I love him and I respect him and I honor what he’s been through and what we’ve been through together. And, you know, if that’s not enough for people, then, heck, don’t vote for him.”
In other words, Hillary was standing by man — like in Tammy Wynette’s hit 1968 country music song “Stand By Your Man.”
The Clintons’ politically-adept performance that night boosted their public profile and Bill’s campaign. He went on to receive the Democratic nomination and get elected as President.
But the way Hillary stated her “standing by my man” position was highly offensive to fans of Tammy Wynette and to Tammy herself.
Tammy made it known to Hillary and the press that she was “mad as hell” about Hillary’s insulting comment on 60 Minutes.
TIME magazine quoted her as saying: “Nowhere in that song did I say, ‘be a doormat, take any abuse.’”
Other news stories quoted Tammy using variations of that line, including: “That song doesn't say be a doormat”; “Nowhere does it say be a doormat and let this man walk on you”; and, “That song doesn't say be a doormat for anybody.”
She also wrote a letter to Hillary that said: “With all that is in me, I resent your caustic remark. I believe you have offended every true country-music fan and every person who has made it on their own with no one to take them to the White House.”
The soon-to-be First Lady of the United States quickly apologized to “The First Lady of Country Music.”
Hillary told reporters: “I didn’t mean to hurt Tammy Wynette as a person. I happen to be a country-western fan, If she feels like I’ve hurt her feelings, I'm sorry about that.”
Hillary also telephoned Tammy to apologize directly. It apparently worked. Wynette later performed at a fundraiser for Bill, at Hillary’s request.
Six years later, Bill Clinton was back in the hot seat over a new bimbo eruption. Reports had surfaced that he’d been having an affair with a young White House intern named Monica Lewinsky.
So, on January 26, 1998 — exactly six years after Hillary made her famous Tammy-bashing remark — Bill held a press conference to address the issue.
In it, he created an ironic dual anniversary of two famous Clinton quotes when he forcefully claimed:
Of course, as we all learned later, he did — depending on what the meaning of did is.
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