I did not have -- you know -- and isn't that a bummer?
This week's syndicated column
Remember that day in 1998 when Bill Clinton’s lewd Oval Office liaisons with an intern named Monica Lewinsky became public knowledge and Bill Clinton thought he was a cooked goose?
He sure looked that way in those early pictures, and he acted that way, too, enlarging the conspiracies he’d already orchestrated to try to obstruct justice in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case. Before the whole grimy era was technically over, culminating in historic impeachment proceedings, Bill Clinton would engage in suborning perjury, witness tampering and the like – even gulling his own Cabinet members to lie publicly on his behalf – all to save his political hide, which the American people had no intention of tanning.
Sure, he would be found in contempt for intentionally misleading the court and would have to surrender his Arkansas law license for five years. He would resign from the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court rather than face disbarment, but when it came to vox populi, none of it was a big deal.
After all, it was just “about sex,” right? Wrong. It was about Bill Clinton’s personal “war on women” (which went far beyond Jones and Lewinsky) and the laws he broke to cover it up, but that didn’t matter, either. Meanwhile, Clinton’s wider war on the American people – including “Chinagate,” which involved fundraising from Red China, transferring military technology to Red China, his politicization of the INS to naturalize illegal aliens (including felons) to vote Democrat (sound familiar?) and other abuses of power – never entered impeachment proceedings and seem to be all but forgotten now.
There’s an irony here. Bill Clinton, our first adolescent president, believed his country was more grown up than he was. What a happy surprise it must have been when the electorate acted more like his posse, circling the wagons around this man who had demeaned his country, his office, his family and himself for all the world to see – including, of course, Osama bin Laden.
That’s not to say, however, that Bill Clinton left the culture unchanged. Under Clinton’s “moral” leadership, America took a giant plunge into previously unplumbed cultural degradation.
Don’t get me wrong. We were already well on our way. But here are three new depths of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll I think we and, worse, our children, reached more quickly, thanks to the example set by Bill Clinton, indispensably assisted by his chief enabler and would-be successor, Hillary Clinton.
--Sex. What is newly degrading here is how, during the Clinton years, talking and broadcasting with ease, if not insouciance, and definitely shamelessness, about the nasty details of the Clinton-Lewinsky “relationship” became the new, must-have oratory skills. Sixteen years later, of course, it’s the new boring, as the spate of headlines and jokes about Monica Lewinsky’s recent Vanity Fair article shows.
But it’s not just talk that has changed. After the Clinton administration, oral sex itself soon became the new, must-have personal dating skill researchers began encountering even among teens. Clinton may have been trying to save his political career when he said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky,” but now large numbers of college students tell researchers they don’t believe oral sex constitutes sexual relations, either. It’s unclear what they make of the STDs some of them contract as a result.
--Drugs. Hiding in plain sight in the most recent (2010) National Survey of Drug Use and Health among 12- to 17-year-olds is the spike in marijuana use beginning around 1992. That, of course, is the year the nation elected Bill Clinton, its first marijuana-using (if not, he claimed, inhaling) president. No, this phenomenon isn’t related to the Clinton sex scandals, but it seems linked to Clinton’s influence. According to the survey, youth marijuana use doesn’t appear to decline again until 2000 – when Clinton left office. It begins to increase noticeably again by around 2008 when Barack Obama, a high school “choom gang” member, won the White House. Can’t wait to see the post-legalization figures.
--Rock ‘n’ roll. From Miley Cyrus to Beyonce, robotically explicit pop stars give voice to the Clinton legacy in their exhibitionist displays for their young fans. Recently, a Cyrus show featuring a Clinton stand-in included “simulated fellatio.” Beyonce’s latest hit “Partition” includes the lines (these are the cleanest I could find): “He popped all my buttons and he ripped my blouse; he Monica Lewinsky’d all over my gown.” As a measure of manners and mores in 21st-century America, it’s worth noting that Beyonce, even if she didn’t sing “Partition,” was invited to entertain at Michelle Obama’s White House birthday party.
In its pre-publication synopsis of the Lewinsky article, Vanity Fair reports that Lewinsky “requests one correction of Beyonce, regarding the lyrics to her recent hit ‘Partition.’ Lewinsky writes: “Thanks, Beyonce, but if we’re verbing, I think you meant ‘Bill Clinton’d all on my gown,’ not ‘Monica Lewinsky’d.’”
Such is the cultural trough where America now wallows. And Bill Clinton is one reason why.