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First Lady Puts Health Reform Failure on Self

January 10, 1995| From Associated Press

NEW YORK — First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton blamed herself Monday for the failure of health-care reform last year and said she had been politically "naive and dumb," a newspaper reported.

Speaking to a group of women writers invited to lunch at the White House, Mrs. Clinton also said she is surprised by how she sometimes is perceived, the New York Times reported.

And she asked the writers, including Ann Landers, for advice: how to make her public image better match her own self-image as sympathetic and complicated.

"Sometimes I read stories and hear things about me and I go 'ugh.' I wouldn't like her either," the newspaper quoted Mrs. Clinton as saying. "It's so unlike what I think I am or what my friends think I am.

"I can only guess that people are getting perceptions about me from things I am saying or doing in ways that don't correspond with things I am trying to get across," Mrs. Clinton told the women, who usually write about personal advice, style and gossip.

"I didn't get this whole image creation thing. I see what it can do, but I'm not sure I get it. I have let other people define me."

The paper did not mention what, if any, advice the writers gave her.

Also at the luncheon were writers from the New York Post, the Washington Post and USA Today.

Last year, Mrs. Clinton had suggested in interviews that part of the reason for the failure of health-care reform in Congress was that a male-dominated political system had found it difficult to accept her position of authority on the issue.

But, the newspaper reported Monday, Mrs. Clinton said: "I take responsibility for not understanding what was going on. There was a lack of politically savvy advice.

"I think I was naive and dumb, because my view was, results speak for themselves. I regret very much that the efforts on health care were badly misunderstood, taken out of context and used politically against the Administration. I take responsibility for that, and I'm very sorry for that."

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