I really don’t mind being out of the mainstream when it comes to Bill Clinton and the Lewinsky scandal. My views of him as a man are fairly unremarkable. Few people dispute that the guy is a hormonally challenged selfish jerk. Thedisagreement lies in what to do about the fact that he behaves like one. The question about the appropriateness of impeachment, removal, censure, and Democratic pep rallies, is a question of how to interpret a fairly agreed- upon set of facts. What drives a lot of us nuts is that even when we add more facts — not accusations — the interpretations don’t seem to change. It’s like no matter how much wood is thrown on the fire, it never gets hotter or bigger. Maybe Bill Clinton’s on double-secret probation and nobody’s telling me?
So now we are on the verge of finding out, according to the Drudge Report, whether Bill Clinton is a deadbeat dad. Will it change things? I don’t know. But if the last year is any indication, it won’t. The president’s defenders at this point just don’t care. But for two seconds, let’s assume it’s true and add up the tally of hard-won principles the Left and/or the Democratic Party has sacrificed. Well, there’s the idea that sex in the work place is wrong; there’s the idea that superiors should not have relations with employees; there’s the notion that consent of the woman doesn’t absolve the man; there’s the idea that sexual harassment cases are serious business; there’s the idea that dressing provocatively doesn’t mean you’re sexually ravenous; there’s that old saw about demonizing deadbeat dads; of course, there’s the whole “personal is political” thing; and there’s the idea that women don’t make up sexual harassment. These are just a few.
I don’t know if Clinton fathered that child. But would anyone be surprised? I heard the story about two weeks ago and all I could do was sigh. The White House staff has been instructed not to give any firm denials because they all think it might be true. Last night Jay Leno went on a joke spree at the president’s expense about the charge that Clinton fathered a child. “Today the White House said she must have just sat on Monica’s dress. That’s what happened. I mean who do you believe, a hooker or President Clinton? For most Americans that’s a tough one.” You can’t blame Leno, he’s just a prophet in Bill Clinton’s America.
Now, I’ve learned that there seems to be additional evidence out there (not in the Ford building and not in OIC’s office) corroborating the allegations that Jane Doe #5 was assaulted by Bill Clinton and then intimidated into covering it up. I suspect you’ll be reading about it soon. Let’s assume that story is true, or assume it isn’t, it doesn’t really matter. But again, would anybody be surprised? Would any opinions change? What is it about this man that his actual allies think he is capable of despicable things and they just don’t care?
WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT HILLARY?
As I said, I’m perfectly comfortable about being out of the mainstream about the president. After all, he’s the president and certain moral, philosophical, and procedural positions flow from that fact. But where I must confess I am more uncomfortable about being out of the mainstream is all of this hoopla about Hillary Rodham Clinton. I just don’t get it.
And because she has no role in the constitutional framework, it’s harder to justify my position. She, like all First Ladies, is a cultural icon first, a political one second, and a governmental figure a distant third. As a cultural icon she plays the role of First Feminist. As a political icon she is the president’s savior and the Democratic party’s biggest draw. And as a governmental figurehead she was a player but now she’s essentially a ribbon- cutter.
So I guess what astounds me is that in all three categories she is either a stunning failure (see list in above item) or an even more stunning fraud. Her marriage was supposed to usher in this new paradigm of equal partnership between spouses — two for the price of one. It cannot be under-emphasized the degree to which they claimed theirs was a loving, real marriage. Where? What love? What reality? Who in America wants their marriage to be like the Clintons’? Gail Sheehy writes in the upcoming Vanity Fair that Hillary is an addict. She loves saving her husband when he gets himself into horny-goat trouble. He may not be hitting her but can anybody say “battered-spouse syndrome?” As I have written before, my favorite thing to do is to take the Clinton spin on face value — like when Clinton says he never once touched Lewinsky with the intent to gratify her. Now we have a new test case. Sheehy also says that, thanks to the First Lady’s diligent news censors, Hillary doesn’t even know what the details of her husband’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky are, and that she really believed he was just ministering to the intern (not ministering her senseless). Sheehy says friends of the First Lady believe that Hillary is the only person in America who wouldn’t get a cigar joke. Um, what? So, she’s fully forgiven him and yet she doesn’t know the full extent of his piggishness. Talk about transactional immunity. This is not an open, loving marriage. This is the Jerry Springer show with nicer clothes. Hillary is a failure on almost every front. She talks a good game about the “children,” but what First Lady hasn’t talked about the children? First Ladies are always playing nurturer-in-chief — no impressive mold-breaking there. I mean, what a cliché. Besides, enough already with “the children” — don’t they have homework or something? As a governmental leader, she’s a total bust. Health Care was a fiasco, pure and simple. The reason it was such a colossal failure was that Hillary Clinton is one of these people who believes that if a bunch of guys with pocket protectors and fluorescent light-induced vitamin deficiencies can pull together enough data, they can do anything. Face it, on matters of serious policy the woman is an incredible anachronism out of the New Deal.
But yet the American people love her more than ever. Why? Alas, I fear it is because she’s a victim and she wears it well. And why wouldn’t she? According to Sheehy (an excellent reporter by the way), Hillary is addicted to saving her husband. It’s like being addicted to the smell of the Band-Aids she puts on his knuckles after he beats her.
In fin de siècle America, there’s nobility in victimhood — you get to be on the cover of Vogue. Almost the entire Democratic Party is really just a cadre of victims. Bill Clinton ran for president as a victim — a first in American politics. He was a victim of his abusive father (so was Reagan and you never heard word one about it), he was a victim of his weight and his poor, single- parent childhood. Today he is a victim, according to the conventional wisdom, because the partisan hate-filled Republicans want to punish him for caring about other victims. They want to punish him because the president has a sexual dysfunction, which these days is a free ticket to sympathy land. Novelist Jane Smiley wrote in The New Yorker that Bill Clinton’s problem is that he has a “desire to make a connection with another person…it seems to be the one thing he can’t get rid of.”
Hillary does Bill one better. She is his victim, her love for him is her dysfunction, and so for her the sky is the limit. She may run for senator in the Y2K. Al Sharpton tells the New York Post today that “most serious candidates would defer to her because on several issues, she has shown more political knowledge and courage than any First Lady since Eleanor Roosevelt.” Heads nod when they hear this sort of thing — even when it comes from Al Sharpton, a man who deserves a PhD in victimology. I simply don’t get it. I’m sure I will get any number of e-mails from people explaining to me that what I don’t get is her dignity and her grace and all that junk. Please don’t write me saying that. I see all that. I just don’t know what makes all that admirable when it is so clearly fraudulent and creepy.
ARMAGEDDON: SPEEDING UP THE PROCESS
Here’s another thing I don’t get. Remember how in the first and last Indiana Jones movies when Hitler almost gets his hands on the Arc of the Covenant or the Holy Grail. The idea was that the Nazis would have God in their hip pocket by getting the two most holy relics in Christendom. I mean it makes perfect sense. God will have no choice but to give supreme power to Captain Evil and his henchmen if they actually get their hands on the Grail. His hands will be tied.
Well, yesterday members of an apocalyptic cult were arrested in Israel. Apparently, they believed that if they killed a few people it would hasten the arrival of Armageddon and the arrival of the Messiah. I don’t mean to belittle anybody’s religion but I love this sort of thinking. Jesus or God, depending on your perspective, has been waiting at least 2,000 years for the right time to come down to earth and straighten everything out. He’s watched Crusades, plagues, wars, wars, and more wars come and go. We’ve mastered maximum killing with minimal expense. And God in His infinite wisdom has deemed the time unripe for His intercession. Well, that’s His prerogative after all, the job has got to have some perks. But these guys arrested in Israel think that by shooting a few people in a public square or market they will somehow get God to pick up the pace. Seems to me that sort of hubris doesn’t pay off.