Picks and Pans Review: On Tour With...
AUTHOR: HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
TITLE: It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us PLACE: Ann Arbor, Mich. AMOUNT: 2,000 (presigned) copies sold
MOMENTS INTO AN APPEARANCE ON BEHALF OF HER BOOK about the welfare of children, the First Lady faces a critic whose features are twisted with rage. No, not columnist William Safire, who recently accused her of lying about her involvement in the Whitewater and Travelgate scandals, but 4-month-old Milo Gentry, his breast-feeding interrupted as mom Abbie Stahlin, 22, approaches the first-time author. "Bless his heart," says Clinton. "We need to get him fed."
Meanwhile 2,000 fans have congregated around the massive Borders Books and Music store. The First Lady takes pains to appear down-to-earth and accessible, shaking hands, grasping shoulders and warmly greeting each fan. It works. "She's so human," says retired education professor Mary Jane Shoultz, 61. "When you get close to her, you feel like you're meeting a friend from the past." Milo's dad, music student Mike Gentry, 33, agrees. "Her eyes are amazing," he says. "She looks better in person than any picture of her I've ever seen."
A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll ranked Clinton the most unpopular of any First Lady in history, but in Ann Arbor, home of the world's largest Hillary Rodham Clinton Fan Club (with roughly 1,000 members), the reception couldn't be friendlier. "She definitely needs our support, and we're happy to give it," says Rose Marie Barhydt, 65, an educational consultant, holding up a sign that reads: Give 'em hell, Hillary. "She's being judged unfairly." Among tougher questions being asked: "How's Socks?" The answer: a cheerful but definitive "He's fine."