As I write, it appears that he is
determined to hang in there until he is dragged out of the Oval
Office in shackles. And from his point of view, this is the only
rational course. The moment he surrenders the power of the
presidency he will be defenseless. Nevertheless, you have to give
him credit for determination. Its the only trace of
character he has.
I had to laugh when I heard a radio
interview with a historian who said that if the charges
proved true he solemnly stressed the if
Clinton would probably go down in history as a failed president,
like Warren Harding. Warren Harding? Clinton has
already broken all records for ignominy. The salaciousness of his
behavior with Miss Lewinsky is sufficient. But this scandal will
also revive all the previous scandals he has so far managed to
smother. It will no doubt lead to further revelations: the
long-dormant media have finally joined the chase, along with
the prosecutors. Even Janet Reno no longer dare cover for her
boss. The aggregate scandals may in time put both Clinton and
his wife in prison, even if he should somehow remain in office
for three more years.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are to
liberalism what Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were to evangelism.
From now on it will be the burden of all other liberals to avoid
reminding people of them. Just as White House intern
and Arkansas state trooper have become
doubles-entendres, all the catchwords of liberalism and feminism
will now be infected with irony. The Clintons seem to have realized
that trouble was coming as the day of his deposition in the Jones suit
approached: they made a point of getting a dog, posing disingenuously
as lovers on a beach, and appearing in church together, with Bill
clutching his Bible. All they really achieved was to prepare the public
for a huge laugh.
The sheer riotousness of this scandal
is unlike anything else, ever. The Watergate scandals were shocking,
but they had a certain gravity and Richard Nixon even kept some
dignity to the end. Whatever his crimes, Nixon had self-respect.
Clinton has none. With Nixon, impeachment was no laughing
matter. It was more like tragedy. Clintons fall is farce
and sex farce at that.
The political damage to the
Democratic Party is, of course, beyond calculation. Since Clinton
moved into the White House the Democrats have already lost their
long domination of Congress; now they will suffer further losses
in the 1998 elections, especially if he lingers in office. And good luck
to their presidential nominee in 2000. If Al Gore succeeds Clinton
before then, it wont be as an untainted Gerald Ford, but as a
Spiro Agnew, deeply contaminated by his junior partnership with
Clinton, by his own role in the fund-raising scandals, and by his
defense of the indefensible Big Creep, as Monica
Lewinsky nicknamed her lover.
Clinton continues to betray the
public by the simple act of defending himself. He is like O.J. Simpson,
perfunctorily denying what everyone, including his defenders, already
knows. Like Simpson, he made an immediate but inadequate profession
of innocence, lacking both conviction and convincing detail. It
didnt occur to him to make a more forceful statement until it
was too late to persuade anyone, and even then he added nothing
substantial to his first denial. At all costs he is avoiding any positive
statement of fact that may be contradicted when more evidence
emerges when those facts come out.
Once again, his defenders, furiously
attacking the prosecution and equating opposition with
conspiracy, dont dare mount the best
defense: Hes not that sort of man.
Its because Clinton is, supremely, that sort of
man that this whole thing has happened. Hes a
lying lecher, a prevaricating pervert, an utterly slimy crook,
without a trace of honor or loyalty, desperately trying to save his
own skin one last time.
One sad comment has already
become common: Poor Chelsea! Yes, but its
worth bearing in mind that Chelsea may not be his only child. But
the other one doesnt have to worry about disgrace. His old
flame Gennifer Flowers says that in 1977 he gave her $200 to abort it.
Clinton has indeed lived the
revolution. And whether or not he is impeached or imprisoned
in the near future, his place in history is secure.
Power and Betrayal.
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