Sick Willie

Clinton served as a blank screen onto which people could project their hopes, for two reasons: He's extremely charismatic, and he doesn't really say anything.

When he talks, he just recites platitudinous sound bites, coming off as a kind of mean-spirited Forrest Gump, a good ol' boy with common sense rather than intelligence, with values rooted in family and work. His shallowness has always been his biggest asset; it's hard to disagree with a person who doesn't say anything, and it's easy to get excited about a person who, though saying nothing, says it with power and conviction.

Clinton didn't have to be in this much trouble. All he allegedly did, to begin with, is have an affair with Monica Lewinsky, an intern at the White House. She was of legal age. This may have established Clinton as a piece of slime (as though there were any doubt before), but that's not against the law. If every married man who had an affair at work was removed from the job, unemployment lines would be very long.

But Clinton has been accused of asking Lewinsky to lie for him, which she reportedly says she did: In a sworn affidavit in the Paula Jones case, Lewinsky denied any affair with Clinton. And in a six-hour deposition in the Jones case, Clinton denied the affair, and also denied sexually harassing Jones. He did admit to the affair with Flowers, rebutting his earlier denials.

So he's dug an unnecessary hole for himself. You can't be prosecuted for being a creep. But you can be for perjury and obstruction of justice.

In that famous 60 Minutes interview, Hillary Clinton said, "I love him and respect him, and I honor what he's been through and we've been through together, and, you know, if that's not enough for people, then, heck, don't vote for him."

And heck, America should have listened to her.
There is only one way Clinton can help restore some dignity to the office he has turned into a cheap soap opera: When he delivers his State of the Union address, he should do the decent thing and resign. With other men, this would be a given. But this is Bill Clinton, who has never been known to do what is decent. So unless Kenneth Starr manages to prove a case against him, we may just have to cringe for another two years.

Contact Barry Graham at his online address: bgraham@newtimes.com

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