There is something in the air. Stop. Breathe deep. Do you feel it? It's the coming departure of Bill Clinton from the national stage.
We've grown so accustomed to his self-serving, self-obsessed, sanctimonious and slightly sinister persona that it's going to be difficult to adjust to a non-neurotic in the White House. What am I saying? It will be no trouble at all. It will be glorious!
Say goodbye to 90-minute State of the Union Addresses, coffee klatches for big donors in the Oval Room, starlets bouncing on Lincoln's bed and lies, lies, lies.
Say farewell also to apologies to foreign nations for "sins" committed by previous American governments.
Some of these "sins," like making common cause with less-than-perfect governments against the old Soviet Union, were nothing of the kind. Those bargains had to be struck. Compared with the communist regimes we opposed, our dictatorial allies were all Adlai Stevensons.
And besides, Bill Clinton is the last person to shake a finger at those who made compromises in the fight for freedom. He was personally AWOL from the whole battle, and once in power has been close pals with gun-runners, drug-dealers, Indonesian kleptocrats and Chinese generals. And all for a much less worthy cause than defeating one of the two great tyrannies of the 20th century --Clinton did these things toward one end only: for the money.
And say goodbye to the mawkish, phony "confessions" of personal sin Bill Clinton now indulges almost daily. When the whole world knows how you behave sexually (due entirely to your own stubbornness and mendacity), it's perhaps a little late to demonstrate diffidence about your spiritual journey. But who truly believes that this man has reformed, has learned, has repented? His true feelings on the matter of the Lewinsky scandal were on view during his famous August speech of 1998, when he pouted that "even presidents have personal lives."
Later, he told interviewers that the impeachment battle was not about his behavior at all, but rather, an expression of exasperation by Republicans who could not defeat him at the polls. Later, in a moment of gaudy self-admiration, he suggested that by fighting impeachment he had "saved the Constitution."
One trembles with anticipation for the day when national tragedies like the bombing in Oklahoma City are not put to crude political use by the nation's chief executive. Clinton, of course, used the opportunity to denounce so-called "voices of hate" on the radio.
He later pulled this trick again when the press reported a rash of black church burnings in the South. Clinton, never one to miss a pandering opportunity, recalled his own childhood horror when black churches were firebombed in Little Rock, Ark., and went on to imply that Republicans somehow encouraged a climate of tolerance for these sorts of outrages. Except there were no firebombings in Little Rock when Clinton was a boy, and upon closer examination, it turned out that white churches were burning as often as black ones in the 1990s. A full investigation eventually revealed that some of the burnings were accidents, and many were arson, but none was the work of racists or white supremacists.
And it will be cheering to have a president who does not resort to slander whenever anyone inconveniences him. Not only the women he used and discarded got this treatment. When Clinton wanted to replace travel office officials with his cronies, he smeared Billy Dale, siccing the FBI on him for trumped up embezzlement charges. When Scott Ritter, a member of the U.S. team monitoring Saddam's compliance with U.N. resolutions, criticized the U.S. government for ignoring clear violations, Clinton let fly with a rumor that Ritter was "too close" to the Israelis.
But there are some Clintonisms that will not go away unless Al Gore is defeated. In response to criticism that foreign interests might have affected U.S. policy through contributions, President Clinton once explained in a rare moment of candor, "I don't believe you can find any evidence of the fact that I changed government policy
solely because of a contribution." (Emphasis added.) Just last weekend, vice presidential candidate Lieberman was asked whether Al Gore ought to return contributions from Hugh Hefner. Lieberman, a quick study, has mastered the Clinton approach already. He said the test was whether the money influenced policy.
Goodbye to all that -- please!