JWR Roger SimonMona CharenLinda Chavez
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Left, Right & Center
Jewish World Review / April 14, 1998 / 18 Nissan, 5758

Roger Simon

Roger Simon Bill is Hef's kinda guy

LOS ANGELES -- "All my favorite presidents have been sexually active," Hugh Hefner is saying.

It is about 2:00 in the afternoon at the Playboy Mansion, and Hefner is still in his pajamas.

And he is in his pajamas for one very important reason: He likes being in his pajamas.

He likes staying up late and getting up late and drinking a Diet Pepsi for breakfast and Hef pretty much doing whatever he wants to do.

It is the day before his 72nd birthday, and he has been doing pretty much whatever he wants to do for a long time now, ever since he got the idea of putting pictures of wholesome-looking young women in a magazine. Without their clothes on.

"Visually, we were saying: Nice girls like sex, too," Hefner once told me. "We were saying: The Playmate is the girl next door. Sex is not sniggering or sinful. We were saying something very radical: Sex is nice."

But is sex nice if it takes place in the Oval Office? And is it nice if it takes place between a president and a woman not his wife?

The polls show that an awful lot of people don't care, which pleases Hefner to no end.

"We are doing a better job of defining what is immoral," he said. "Sleeping with someone, married or unmarried, is not immoral."

But how about if your spouse objects? I asked.

Hefner, who is married, nodded.

"Hillary's role has been very critical," he said. "If she had reflected in public what her private views were, in other words, if she had been a victim, it would have played out differently."

But it hasn't played out differently.

"We have a playboy in the White House," Hefner wrote recently. "And depending on the poll, as many as 65 percent of Americans think that's just fine."

Some have said from the beginning, however, that the issue has never been sex but honesty, that it has never been about Monica Lewinsky but about whether Clinton told the truth under oath.

Hefner dismisses that.

"America hates hypocrites, but the one thing, for good or ill, that everybody lies about is sex," he said. "If you didn't, you'd be ostracized."

Interestingly, this is the same view I have found when interviewing some ordinary citizens.

"How could he admit to having an affair?" one woman told me. "What would that have done to his daughter? He was just protecting his family."

Which may be why Clinton's poll numbers continue to be so high.

"Most Americans look at the president and say, 'More power to him. We didn't elect him to be the pope,'" Hefner wrote. "And that is a triumph in the history of the sexual revolution."

Hefner also believes that presidents who fool around may be more trustworthy than presidents who don't.

"Our most dangerous president was Nixon," Hefner said. "I'd rather have a president that screwed around than screwed the country."

So sex is still nice? I asked him. Even for presidents?

Hefner nodded again.

"I think there is a connection between a healthy sex life and leadership," he said.

Which, if true, might make for an interesting presidential race in the year 2000.

In fact, I think I'm going to start thinking about my press conference questions right now.


4/7/98: South African memories --- and a paradise not yet found
3/24/98: Bill's 12-day safari
3/20/98: Peace for Ireland?
3/18/98: Flat tire? Spare me
3/13/98: Latrell Sprewell's genius
3/10/98: On truth and reality
3/5/98: No, I'm not harrassing Hillary
3/3/98: The Unforgettable Henny Youngman
2/26/98: Grow up, boys!
2/24/98: Go get 'em, Bill!
2/19/98: My 15 minutes
2/17/98: The manic-depressive presidency
2/12/98: Drip, Drip, Drip
2/10/98: Clinton tunes out the networks
2/5/98: The flight of the Beast: America's love-hate relationship with scandal
2/3/98: Speaking Clintonese
1/29/98: What the president has going for him
1/27/98: Judgment call: how Americans view President Clinton
1/22/98: Bimbo eruptions past and present
1/20/98: Feeding the beast: Paula Jones gets the full O.J.
1/15/98: Let's get it over with: it's time to deal with Saddam, already
1/13/98: Sonny Bono is dead, let the good times roll
1/8/98: Carribbean Cheesecake: First couple has cake, eats cake
1/6/98: PO'ed: a suspected druggie jumps through the employment hoops
1/1/98: Cures for that holiday hangover
12/30/97: Buy stuff now
12/25/97: Peace to all squirrelkind
12/23/97: Home for the Holidays: Where John Hinckley, never convicted, will not be
12/18/97: Bill's B-list Bacchanalia: Press and politicos get cozy, to a point
12/16/97: All dressed up... (White House flack Mike McCurry speculates on his next career)

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.