Well, I’m here in New York for a seminar on right-wing pornography. We will be discussing all the great works; there is, of course, the epic Atlas Plugged and the lesser-known Adventures of Ayn Randy, but also some quasi-neoconservative treatments, The Naked Pubic Square and of course, Auto-eroticism of a Neoconservative. And who could forget such classics as Rod and Man at Yale, The Conservative Behind: Burke to Eliot, and Erections on the Revolutionaries in France.
No, no, just kidding. But that’s sort of the idea that many on the Left have about conservatives: We’re all just really obsessed with sex, but too repressed to admit it. Everything with us is in code. We say we’re for the rule of law, or against perjury, or abuse of power, or that we hate Communism, whatever — but we really are closet pervs. The latest evidence of this can be found in an interview with Bill Clinton in the Advocate, a gay magazine. In it the president explains that gays rallied to his cause during impeachment because they knew what it’s like to be “publicly humiliated and abused.” Moreover, he concurs that “anti-gay” conservatives came out against him.
Now, I haven’t seen the actual interview in the Advocate — my subscription must have lapsed. This is just from published excerpts, so I don’t know what else he says. But I predict the interview offers just the latest installment of a longstanding argument that Bill Clinton is an oppressed sexual minority, which we will only hear more of when Bill Clinton leaves office to explain to the world how he “saved the Constitution.”
During impeachment, the same quarter of American literary, political, and intellectual life that sanctified Anita Hill because her boss had allegedly asked her out (the horror!) believe that Bill Clinton is a sexual martyr for playing Meter-Maid-and-the-Limo-Driver with an intern.
In fact, I have a file — thicker than Alec Baldwin’s head — filled with articles by distinguished writers who believe that Bill Clinton was a victim of “sexual McCarthyism.” This is what Sid Blumenthal (does anyone smell sulfur?), Alan Dershowitz, David Brock, and dozens of others believe.
The award-winning feminist author, Jane Smiley, wrote in the New Yorker that while President Bush was essentially repressed — “here was a guy for whom launching a missile seemed better than sex” — Bill Clinton was authentic (i.e., heroic) because of his sexual appetites. “Maybe what Clinton did in the Oval Office was love, or infatuation, or just sex. At the very least, it was a desire to make a connection with another person, a habitual desire for which Clinton is well known…But this desire is something I trust, maybe the one thing I trust because it seems to be the one thing he can’t get rid of.”
For most “sophisticated” people, Bill Clinton’s persecution was at the hands of zealous Christian prigs. Indeed, in this Advocate interview Clinton says that the anti-gay, anti-minority forces “see me as an apostate because I’m a Southern white male Protestant and Southern white male Protestants have been the backbone of their power.”
This is hardly a new theme. Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner, the man who this week put an air-brushed Al Gore on the cover of his magazine (and his wife on the back burner so he could bunk down with another man in a hotel a couple years ago) wrote an editorial (“Vote Down this Inquisition”) during impeachment. “He was put in the stocks for all the country to see, was tied to a stake, faced his inquisitors, took his whipping…” Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times that the American people would prefer Clinton rather than “lend any vindication to the crusade of a zealous prig out of The Crucible. ” The Times even trotted out Arthur Miller, the actual author of The Crucible, to repeat the same point.
Even Andrew Sullivan, whom I know and respect a great deal, wrote at the time, “For the new conservatives, the counterattack on homosexual legitimacy is of a piece with the battle against presidential adultery.”
Well, Sullivan and other gay intellectuals might want to rethink this formulation — for their own good. If we are to believe their arguments, gay men are like any other citizens. They want to marry and adopt children, and live normal, stable, conservative lives. There’s a lot to discuss on the substance of that. But in the meantime, they might want to consider the political ramifications of claiming Bill Clinton as a soul mate. Most Americans do not approve of the way Bill Clinton handles his personal life–whether they believe the allegation that he is a rapist or not. When Bill Clinton equates his wantonly self-indulgent and self-destructive sexual escapades as synonymous with the gay lifestyle, he’s not doing gays any favors.
LIVE FROM NEW YORK
Actually, the real reason I’m here in NYC is to attend the 45th anniversary of National Review celebration. Man, we are gonna party like it’s 1799!
For those of you who don’t know, National Review is the mothership of National Review Online and the midwife of modern American conservatism. It is the ideological whip of the conservative movement. It is the place where all the great arguments of the Right were first raised and continue to be honed. It remains the most important conservative journal in the United States. And it is the magazine that pays me enough money to keep me from eating Tender Vittles and the sponsor of tonight’s open bar.
I say this with all due humility and all conflicts of interest notwithstanding, you are making a mistake if you do not subscribe to this magazine. And if you want to wish them a happy birthday, a new subscription is the way to go. Lord knows it’s easy enough to do. Just follow the dreaded pop-up ad on the home page.
WHAT’S GOING ON
A few other notes.
1. NRO is planning big things, huge things, things larger than my belly looks when I try to touch my toes without a shirt on. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t looking for new ideas. If you have a suggestion for what NRO should start doing, particularly after the election, we are all ears. Please send suggestions to Votegfile@aol.com.
2. I want to thank all of you for exploring NRO more. But there’s still more stuff to see. For example did you know about our National Review Election Guide, which includes the following articles?
- The Un-Clinton, by Stephen Moore
- Tax (Credit) and Spend, by Lawrence Kudlow
- Lost Cause, by John Hood
- Supine Neglect, by John J. Miller, Kate O’Beirne, and Ramesh Ponnuru
- Cream of the Right, by Kate O’Beirne and Ramesh Ponnuru
- The Bankrupt Estate, by Yours Truly
Did you also know about the piece I wrote in defense of Hollywood violence (from the magazine you should be subscribing to?)? Indeed, if you just come into NRO once a day or for just one or two features without really rooting around like Bill Clinton at the dollar-a-magazine bin at a porn clearance sale, you could have missed stuff by me, Rich Lowry, Ramesh Ponnuru, Dennis Prager, Strom Thurmond (yes, that Strom Thurmond), Dave Kopel, and lots of others.
3. On that note, here’s just a taste of what you can find at National Review Online Weekend: Geoffrey Norman, Robert A. George, and Chris McEvoy on the Subway Series…Kathryn Jean Lopez on Disco-man Whit Stillman…Matt Feeney on Dark Angel…Andrew Stuttaford and Melissa Seckora on the Arts…Sue D’Mello on Kazuo Ishiguro’s Orphans…Mike Long and Mark Judge on the infamous Clinton legacy…and much more.