The revelations we've been treated to in the Clinton-Starr controversy lead to an inescapable conclusion.
Democrats like sex.
Sizable numbers of people of good will point out to me, when assessing the President's situation, that other Presidents did it.
No. Other Democratic Presidents did it.
I say this as a unrepentant Democrat whose last Republican dalliance was an ideological infatuation with John Lindsay: it ended in heartbreak when I found out he was a political cross-dresser, a sort of political Crying Game.
But the facts are what they are, and when we call the roll of Democratic Presidents, it's time to play Tem as they lay.
When I was a lad, we were taught that Democrats started wars, and Republicans started depressions. It turns out that there's a more fundamental difference: Republicans worry about liberties Q Democrats take Tem.
Lyndon Johnson, the original Big Daddy, was said to have had no compunction about visiting the rooms of female guests for whom he had an eye and more. John Kennedy is now depicted as a modern-day Caligula whose awe-inspiring conquests Q my God, what a list! Q rank next to the Norman. Even Franklin D. Roosevelt managed to rise above the pressures of the Depression, war, and his disability to die in the arms of another woman.
What do the Republicans offer in return? The Republican idea of Presidential license is Ike, sitting in the back seat of his car, yearning for Kay Summersby. Even the most disagreeable rumors surrounding George Bush merely had him trysting with an otherwise respectable woman somewhere abroad Q the worst we can say is that he had a matron in every port.
The last Republican President who actually had to have it was Warren Harding Q in White House closets, with payoffs for silence, a one-man circus of license who, mercifully, died and left the Presidency to Calvin Coolidge, the model of Republican libidinal repression. Armed with the memory of the Harding episode, his party rejected Nelson Rockefeller half a century later.
Similarly, there are Democrats who prove the rule by remaining the model of decorum. Jimmy Carter dealt with the problem adroitly, confessing he had Rlust in his heart,S thus assuring his party's ideological faithful of his commitment to the legacy, while conforming to more conventional standards of acceptable behavior. And Harry Truman appeared completely uninterested in the prurient: I recall seeing a photo of Truman playing a piano, on top of which Lauren Bacall slithered seductively, at some Washington event. Truman is smiling and looking the other way. What's his problem? Any other Democratic President would have charged his quarry while obliterating the poor instrument in between them in a way that would have done Keith Emerson proud.
Sure, there are always pressures for realignment: Democrats offer such sexual Republicans as Al Gore and Dick Gephardt, while Republican Congressmen make remarks about the size of women's breasts on television. But the underlying trend is a powerful one Q even in the last century, Republicans such as Lincoln, Grant, and Garfield were the models of repression while Democrat Grover Cleveland fathered an illegitimate child and married a woman RinappropriatelyS younger than he while in the White House. In fact, the founder of the Democratic Party Q the longest-lived such institution in the history of Democracy Q was Thomas Jefferson...well, maybe.
With that said, there is the inescapable orthogonality between Executive concupiscence and performance. Perhaps a dalliance would have cleared out the bizarre emotional attic in which Richard Nixon lived Q he is one of the few people for whom time spent in an orgone box would not be inappropriate. Similarly, Ronald Reagan, whose good-natured conviviality and time spent in Hollywood would otherwise qualify him for membership in the Harding wing of the party, walked straightly and narrowly into trading arms for hostages and running up debts for everything this side of breast augmentation surgery for his teenage girlfriend. And perhaps if Lyndon Johnson had eschewed his conjugal wanderings he would have accepted his own virility as it was and spared us Indochina.
With all that said, it's unsurprising that a Special Prosecutor, after taking the nation on a four-year fishing expedition, would come back empty-handed except for the fact that a Democratic President succumbed to a series of moments of weakness. Just be grateful that it wasn't John Kennedy Q with the witness list that Grand Jury would have faced, $40 million would have looked cheap: Now Miss Monroe, do you know the President?.....