Can you please republish some of the funniest columns from the late 1990s when Clinton sex jokes were all the rage and you once wrote about Monica's dress in the witness protection program?
MARK SAYS: Well, I think we reprised the Monica's dress column a few months back, but in honor of the demise of the Hillary campaign and with it the hopes of a Clinton restoration, how about my grand summation of the Administration? This is the way things seemed in the week it ended seven years ago. And don't forget, the SteynOnline Request Of The Week now appears midweek. Drop a line requesting a favorite column or even a favourite column here.
An A-to-Z of the 42nd Presidency
from The Spectator, January 13th 2001
So here we are. The Clinton Administration is finally reaching, in the preferred formulation of the Starr report, "completion". In his political life, as in his sexual adventures, Bill Clinton is doing all he can to avoid that happy state. But whatever role awaits him - elder statesman, Arkansas Senator, executive vice-president at Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks, night manager of the Erotic Pussycat lap-dancing bar - he will no longer be, so to speak, in our face. I take my hat off to him. Indeed, I take my pants off to him.
He is an amazing paradox: a man whose smallness loomed large, in every sense. We may never get the full measure of the man, but then neither did Monica. In the meantime, herewith an alphabet of fragrant memories from the Clinton era:
A IS FOR AFFIDAVIT
This was the first administration in US history to keep a standardised denial-of-sex form on file. When Paula Jones' lawyers were sniffing round Arkansas for women who'd undergone similar experiences, a nervous Juanita Broaddrick called her attorney, who in turn contacted an old friend, White House counsel Bruce Lindsay. Shortly afterwards the President's lawyer, Bob Bennett, faxed back the affidavit of another woman who'd denied involvement with Mr Clinton. Mrs Broaddrick's counsel replaced the original name with that of his client and dropped it in the mail. "I [Your Name Here], being of sound body, did not have sexual relations with William Jefferson Clinton": with the convenient do-it-yourself Clinton Home Affidavit Kit, you may get groped but there won't be a lot of paperwork.
B IS FOR BLACK
He was America's first black president, according to novelist Toni Morrison; and the first gay president, according to himself, suggesting to a gay interviewer that gays supported him over impeachment because they understood what it was like to suffer discrimination. He was also the first Indian president, telling a disgruntled Cherokee that he shared the guy's reservations (metaphorically) because he, too, was part-Cherokee. Big Chief Talking Bull had hit upon an ingenious strategy: in the crazed politically correct America of the Nineties, he was the only white male to get away with appropriating the victim role for himself.
C IS "FOR THE CHILDREN"
"For the first time in 50 years, no nuclear missiles are targeted at American children."
"When you look at those children who greeted us," he told the Rwandans in 1998, "how could anyone say they did not want those children to have a chance to have their own children?"
Middle East peace?
"President Clinton stood before the Palestinian National Council and spoke of two profoundly emotional experiences in less than 24 hours. One of these was his meeting with the children of jailed Palestinian Arab terrorists. The other experience was meeting Israelis, some little children whose fathers had been killed in the conflict with Palestinians."
No such meeting ever took place. As Elizabeth Wurtzel observed in her book Bitch, Bill Clinton "has made being full of shit not just a mere peccadillo, but in fact the greater part of his personality".
D IS FOR DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS
His was the first First Penis to have an official statement issued on its behalf, following its formal examination by Captain Kevin O'Connell of the National Naval Medical Center as Exhibit A in Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit. "In terms of size, shape, direction," announced his lawyer Bob Bennett, "the President is a normal man."
E IS FOR THE ECONOMY
Mr Clinton decided early on not to get in the way of American capitalism's boundless resourcefulness and instead to concentrate on honing his low-brow burlesque act – it's not the economy, stupid; it's the stupidity, economists! His presidency is a monument to the marginalisation of politics in America and the most heartening repudiation of the theory that politicians "manage" the economy.
F IS FOR "FRIENDS OF BILL"
The original FOBs of 1992 mostly wound up dead, in jail or drowning in legal bills, but fortunately there were thousands more waiting to sign up in return for a night in the Lincoln Bedroom. To the Clintons, there's no such thing as strangers, just friends whose checks haven't yet cleared.
G IS FOR GUCCIONE vs HEFNER
Few presidents have been so concerned about expanding job opportunities for women, and, under Mr Clinton – or, technically, after being under Mr Clinton, many have gone on to enjoy rewarding mid-life career changes from obscure state employee to Penthouse Pet of the Month. Sally Perdue and Elizabeth Ward Gracen stripped for Hugh Hefner's Playboy, Gennifer Flowers and Connie Hamzey for Bob Guccione's Penthouse. Paula Jones joined the latter ranks just a month or two back, making the final score: Guccione 3 Hef 2.
H IS FOR HOLY BIBLE
He never travelled without his. In 1996, he strolled out of his church after the Easter service, waved his trusty Bible to the crowds, and then went back to the Oval Office to observe the resurrection with Monica in a more, ah, personal sense.
I IS FOR IS
"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." Alas, he never did let us in on the definitive definition.
J IS FOR THE JOY OF NON-SEX
Mr Clinton's forthcoming memoir.
K IS FOR KENNY G
Say what you like about JFK but at least he took time out from nailing Marilyn to sit through the odd White House cello recital. Mr Clinton couldn't be bothered. For his gala banquet for Tony Blair, he booked Stevie Wonder and Elton John. A year ago, he spent the soi-disant millennium watching Tom Jones singing "I'm gonna wait till the midnight hour..." And under the "Arts & Letters" category of the 2000 White House guest list, the nearest thing to an artist is the Lite FM soporific clarinettist Kenny G, and the nearest thing to "Letters" is his surname, which is one.
L IS FOR LAWN
He installed a $7,500 hot tub on the White House lawn. Questioned as to whether this was appropriate for "the people's house", press spokesman Mike McCurry said it would be the people's hot tub.
M IS FOR MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR
He was the first boomer to realise the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. According to Mrs Clinton's spokeswoman, the First Couple's dormant sexual relationship was rekindled by their late-night discussions during the Nato strikes against Milosevic. So, if it's any consolation to those bombed-out Serb rail commuters and Chinese embassy employees, the earth moved for Bill and Hill, too.
N IS FOR NICHOLSON BAKER
Monica asked Bill how he was enjoying Vox, the Nicholson Baker phone-sex novel she gave him. He replied that so far it was great but he was only up to chapter four. As the distinguishing characteristic of Vox is that it has no chapters, Monica went away wounded by the President's deceit. But even a pathological liar has to keep in shape, and it was all those little white lies that enabled Mr Clinton to keep on top of the big black lies at the heart of his presidency.
O IS FOR ONE MO' TIME!:
He was elected President twice. He had time to watch Harrison Ford in Air Force One twice. And he had time to rape Juanita Broaddrick twice, according to her sealed testimony to the House investigators. ("Then he said, 'My God, I can do it again!' And he did.")
P IS FOR PUSSY
Some years back, asked what he and the President talked about during their frequent afternoons on the golf course, Clinton confidant Vernon Jordan replied succinctly, "Pussy." Presumably this is a reference to Kathleen Willey's late cat, who mysteriously disappeared after she went public with her accusations against the President.
Q IS FOR QUEEN, BEAUTY
Mr Clinton has had relationships with at least three winners of the Miss Arkansas competition: Sally Perdue, Miss Arkansas 1958; Lencola Sullivan, Miss Arkansas 1980; Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Miss Arkansas 1982. Unlike his fellow political sex-fiend, nonagenarian Senator Strom Thurmond, the President has never married any of his state beauty queens.
R IS FOR REPUBLICANS
As some of them began to realize during the ever leftward drift of the Gore campaign, Republicans will never get a better Democrat in the White House than Bill Clinton. His cheerleaders in the press gleefully hailed him as a genius: according to them, he stole all the GOP's most popular policies and then tagged 'em as extremists for sticking with the handful he hadn't bothered purloining. This argument would have more merit applied to Tony Blair or even Canada's Jean Chrétien, both of whom ran in Tory (or Tory-ish, in Chrétien's case) clothes and came close to demolishing their countries' respective Conservative parties. But the funny thing about Bill Clinton is that his move to the center came without any political benefits for his party: everywhere you look - the state legislatures, the House, the Senate - there are now far more Republicans than there were in 1992. Clinton's Democratic Party worked out great for Clinton, lousy for Democrats.
S IS FOR THE SMALL-BREASTED DEFENSE
When Kathleen Willey accused the President of assault, Monica was indignant: how could the President be unfaithful to her? Fortunately, Mr Clinton was able to reassure her that Mrs Willey's story was completely unbelievable because he'd never grope a woman with such small breasts. If you study the women who disrobed for Playboy and Penthouse, this appears to be one of the less risible Clinton defense arguments.
T IS FOR "TENDERNESS, TRY A LITTLE"
The song he sang to Monica in the Oval Office after he told her they'd have to end their dalliance:
She may be weary
Women do get weary
Wearing the same stained dress...
(I quote from memory.) The President always knew when to try a little tenderness. No one was better at feeling our pain - or, as he remarked to Juanita Broaddrick, catching sight of her swollen lip as he left the room, "You might want to put some ice on that."
U IS FOR UNDERWEAR
He was the first President with tax-deductible underwear. Throughout the 1980s, he gave away his old underpants and claimed the gift as a deductible item on his tax return: in 1986, he claimed $2 per pair for three pairs of used briefs; in 1988, $15 for a pair of long johns.
V IS FOR VIETNAM
Contrary to popular belief, Bill Clinton did go to Vietnam, albeit 30 years later: in November 2000, he became the first US President to visit the country.
W IS FOR WIN
In January 1998, when scandal broke around him, Mr Clinton got Dick Morris to do a quickie opinion poll. Morris reported that the public would not accept a presidential affair with an intern. In that case, said Mr Clinton, "we'll just have to win". That determination to brazen it out is the President's chief legacy to America's political culture. At the time, worldly Dems told us not to worry: the corruption was strictly confined to oral sex, and, sophisticated chaps that we are, we could all understand that, couldn't we? After Al Gore's post-election campaign of the last two months, we now know that Clintonian methods have uses beyond fellatio. Bill Clinton called the Constitution's bluff, and the much vaunted "checks and balances" proved all but useless in the face of a man who was unchecked and, in certain aspects, unbalanced.
X IS FOR EXIT MUSIC
He wasn't a star, but he knew the tricks, cracking up at a Russian press conference when Boris Yeltsin said something flakey, corpsing with a corpse, like Sammy Davis yukking it up with Dino at a pro-celeb golf tournament. He understood a crude showbiz rule that, if you behave like a star, you'll get treated like one, a theory that reached its apotheosis in his endless entrance at the Democratic convention. We all knew he could talk the talk, but that night he walked the walk - and what a walk! It was the sort of thing Nicolae Ceausescu might have done if he'd ever seen Engelbert Humperdinck.
But walking off the stage is harder.
Y IS FOR YES
No Clinton defenders twisted themselves into more pretzel arguments than his feminist cheerleaders. But for one brief moment during the impeachment trial, it looked as though Senator Barbara Mikulski was reconsidering endorsing Mr Clinton's droit de seigneur. When the motion to dismiss the case came up, the Senator, to the amazement of many of us present, voted "No". Evidently she wanted to continue, a rare feminist prepared to break ranks and nail his puffy philandering butt.
Alas, almost immediately, Senator Mikulski stood up and announced that she'd made a mistake: she'd meant to vote "Yes". It seems an appropriate comment on the contortions required of Clintonian feminism that, when it comes to the 42nd President, "No" does indeed mean "Yes".
Z IS FOR ZZZZZZZZZ
William Jefferson Clinton was America's entertainer-in-chief. But, like the third hour of It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, no matter how good the show is eventually you've had enough. It wasn't public approval that saved Clinton, but public indifference. By the end, even his sex life bored them. To rise to the presidency from Hot Springs - a town where there's no right side of the tracks - is an amazing feat. To survive in office despite being your own smokin' gun is spectacular.
And yet what, ultimately, was it all for? He maintained his high "job approval" ratings because he never did anything that didn't come pre-approved. All he could do was tell us he was indispensable, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. And now that completion is about to be reached, what's left? Alan Greenspan. Republican Governors. Cigar jokes. Celebrity, unlike fame, requires a living presence and from now on William Jefferson Clinton will have difficulty holding our attention. He will always be there, the DNA stain on the Constitution. But the American people will shrug him off. He will, as always, be hungry for love. But increasingly he'll find that they're the ones who won't reciprocate.