Hillary's Year To Remember

Oct. 26 was First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's 51st birthday. And, whether you agree or disagree with the way she's handled her job, you'd have to admit that her 50th year was sheer hell. CBS News Correspondent Bill Plante reports:

She has had to deal with the Starr investigation, with her husband's public admission of infidelity, and with the possibility of his impeachment.

So, blowing out those candles, one can only imagine what Mrs. Clinton wished for. Maybe that her next year will be better than her last.

Roxanne Roberts is with The Washington Post: "I don't think there is any question this was a terrible year from the outside looking in," she said.

Hillary Rodham Clinton almost never lets her emotions show in public, but her husband's admission to the nation of his affair with Lewinsky did cause some private strain. Roberts says:
"She spent a few days quietly by herself, and that strikes me as consistent. She didn't do anything impetuous. She didn't do anything rash."

Sara Ehrman has known Hillary Clinton for 27 years. "I'm sure she's put her husband in the dog house. He's probably had some pretty rough times with Hillary. Hillary is a firm woman. She might take 20 minutes to pitch a little fit, but then she pulls herself together."

Ehrman admits that this year has been a stressful one. "It would be extraordinary if there weren't a strain," she says. "There obviously was a strain. This is a great cataclysmic event for any marriage, but they have come through it."

Even in the midst of it, just as the Starr report was released, they appeared together as a team. Once again, Hillary Rodham Clinton was standing by her man.

It's that kind of strong performance which has led to speculation that their marriage is less than real and more of a deal. Roberts would disagree: "I think that this is not an act," she says. "I think it's a genuine desire to keep what she considers to be private her business."

Ehrman adds: "Anyone who has ever spent time with Bill and Hillary Clinton knows that this is not an arrangement. They love one another."

Opponents may question her motives, but Hillary Rodham Clinton isn't holding back. As a campaigner, she's more in demand than the president, a crowd-pleaser for Democrats today and -- who knows -- maybe in the future.

Why doesn't she run for office? Ehrman's response is, "well, we may have plans. Take that out -- no. Really not. Really not. I think Mrs. Clinton can be anything that she wants to be."

For now, she is sticking to her agenda, and she took a day off for her birthday. But the next day, she went right back to work.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is publicizing a book called Kids' Letters to the First Pets. The proceeds will go to the National Park Foundation. It's that arm and fuzzy thing that may soften the hard edge of her public image.

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