Skip to comments.BUBBA CLINTON: A Bloated Irrelevancy
Posted on 10/16/2001 12:01:36 PM PDT by Liz
On top of all the other things I'm obliged to fret about nowadays -- anthrax in my morning mail, suitcase nukes, real pestilence and real plague -- now I find I must worry about Bill Clinton, too.
In case you've forgotten, he was the president of the United States, before and after one Mr. Bush or another. He had all sorts of clever nicknames, hatched and poll-tested for him by whole squadrons of political operatives -- "The Comeback Kid," "The Man from Hope," each sobriquet an eerie blend of Capra and Kafka.
He was cozy with a lot of folks in the press and Academe and Hollywood, and he became famous for having a kind of sex in the Oval Office, although according to official testimony under oath he was pretty sure it wasn't really sex at all.
According to a nice young woman named Meryl Gordon (I feel sure she must be a nice young woman, although, on the other hand, I could be utterly wrong on all counts), writing for "New York Metro," the former president is practically beside himself with angst because he finds that he is out of power at the very moment when events have conspired to create the conditions for greatness.
Like Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront," he coulda been a contender, if only -- if only. (Instead, alas, like Marlon Brando in real life, he finds himself reduced to a bloated irrelevancy.)
Think of the frustration: it must be an especially fiendish kind of torture. What with Americans dead by the thousands, and the nation at war, and mysterious packets of toxins popping up all over the place, and the nation locked in an ominous waiting game, and despite his own best efforts to thrust himself front and center, he really doesn't matter in the least. Not even a little bit. Not even at all.
It is his own pain Mr. Clinton feels now, most deeply and most acutely. He has been robbed -- he seems so sure of this -- of the opportunity to demonstrate his brilliant grasp, his diplomatic genius, his healing touch, his inspired leadership (all those things he never had a chance to flourish before an admiring world during his eight years of unblemished peace and prosperity, from Waco to the Camp David meltdown, from Somalia to the USS Cole).
Poor man. It's an opportunity he is touchingly certain should have been his. It belonged to him by rights, and not to some Texas yokel who's never even been to a Renaissance Weekend or enjoyed an overnight with Barbra Streisand or been hailed as a sex object by left-feminist reporterettes.
According to Ms. Gordon, "The World Trade Center attacks have catapulted the former president -- who was just starting to mellow out and revel in his post-Oval Office life as a New Yorker, senatorial spouse, and money-making private citizen -- into the unfamiliar and frustrating role of action figure in search of action."
The passion of this action figure is tinged with gall, Ms. Gordon notes, with endearing sympathy. "Interviews with nearly a dozen Clinton confidants reveal a man struggling to find a way to be useful and worrying that his peace-and-prosperity presidency will be recast as a footnote to the Bush-family dynasty," she writes, adding, with an almost-audible sigh, "Right after the attacks, Clinton admitted to a friend that he wished, for the first time, to be back in the White House. And he couldn't resist bitterly telling an ally that if the FBI had spent as much time chasing terrorists as it had investigating his behavior, perhaps things would have played out differently."
Mind you, there's a sweet kind of forgetting, in that. (I suppose we must forgive him, though.) The Executive Branch rules the Justice Department, after all, just as the former president -- in theory, at least -- ruled his own appetites. There's a cornucopia of obvious retorts to Mr. Clinton's implication that the FBI robbed him of his Really Big Chance.
Still, it seems excessive (indeed almost cruel) to confront such a man, at such a moment, with anything so blunt and cold as a matter of fact. Here's a curiosity. After eight years of experiencing revulsion and alarm and an often-strident anger at this strange presidential stick-figure, this bizarre combination of noise, and shadow, and lethal vanity, I suddenly feel mostly pity. Weariness and pity.
This is a man who gazes on the corpses of his fellow-beings, his fellow-citizens -- thousands upon thousands of them -- and thinks of how miraculous it would have been, this cosmic horror, this flaring-up of the fires of Hell, if only it had happened in time for him.
This is a man who sees blood and terror and grief and war's devastation merely as a kind of glossy theatrical backdrop, dragged out by the clumsy stagehands of History too late to ornament his turn before the footlights.
This is a soul so small God Himself cannot perceive it without a magnifying glass.
Agree. A brilliant analysis of the boob who was president.
Look buster, one has to EARN respect. You don't automatically get it.
This presidential pretender dishonored the office. He sold the Oval Office for campaign donations.
He lied to the people, he lied to his family. He is an adulterer, a womanizer, and from all reports a rapist.
As president he corrupted our nation's laws, he pardoned gross-out criminals.
Marc Rich is the nation's biggest tax cheat and traded with America's enemy during the oil embargo.
You want respect. You earn it.
Agree completely. But that last line. I may have to have it embroidered on something. Thanks for a beauty, Deb. fsf
The baseness of Klintoon - that the 6000 should have died on his watch so he could become a legend.
He was an American embarrassment who occupied the WH for 8 years.
He deserves NO respect - he showed none to the American people, his cabinet, his wife, his daughter, the rest of the world. He is a despicable waste of humanity.
Deb has it just right - even God Himself will have a hard time finding his soul.
YEP!!!!!!He was never MY President!!!