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Jewish World Review March 12, 1999 /24 Adar 5759

David Corn

David Corn
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Clinton: The Novel

(http://www.jewishworldreview.com) LIKE CLINTON FOES, CLINTON CHAMPIONS NEGLECT the less salacious but more significant lies of his administration.

In January, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the titanic Latin American author, wrote an apologia for Bill Clinton that was published around the world. He hailed the President as a man of intelligence and deep literary knowledge but chided him for over-apologizing for doing "what the common man has done behind his wife's back since the world began."

Okay, chalk up Marquez's defense to the fabled Latino machismo and the fact that he once had a delightful dinner with Clinton at William Styron's summer house on Martha's Vineyard, where the President cited portions from Don Quixote and The Sound and the Fury. But the line that provoked gagging was this: "The entire impeachment process has been a sinister plot by fanatics for the personal destruction of a political adversary whose grandeur they could not bear."

Grandeur? Put aside Broaddrick's charges and Lewinsky's facts, the man Marquez praises lied about his inaction regarding the genocide in Rwanda. His administration has obstructed international efforts to pry documents out of U.S. agencies regarding the murderous misdeeds of right-wing brutes in Chile and Honduras. When a State Department official named Rick Nuccio informed a member of Congress of evidence the CIA had worked with a homocidal thug in Guatemala, Clinton and his aides stood by as the CIA destroyed this official's career.

Grandeur? Who wants to argue over a word with a master like Marquez?

Marquez
But it takes more than reciting Cervantes and Faulkner to achieve greatness. In the opening paragraph of his piece, Marquez refers to Clinton's "power of seduction: from the first handshake he oozes the familiarity of an old friend." Clinton has gotten far with such a power. It is unfortunate that only Clinton's most base use and abuse of this power has drawn so much attention and, consequently, captured the imagination of Marquez.

Clinton, perhaps still feeling (as he once said to Sidney Blumenthal) like a character in a Russian novel, has, in these post-Broaddrick days, complained that an "unwelcome vapor trail" is following him. If Marquez could apply his magical realism to Clinton, he might concoct a character, say a village official, who upon leaving office lives among his neighbors forever enshrouded in a fog. But, then, that fellow wouldn't be much different than Pigpen.

Sympathy for the Lady


Given that Hillary Clinton sabotaged health care reform (through political ineptitude, not malice), that she has for decades coasted on the coattails of her husband's policy lies, and that she has had her own troubles in the truth- telling department (see the commodities deal), it is hard to feel sorry for her. But when she appeared at a UN conference and spoke on women's rights, only the most hardened Clinton basher could not experience a pang of empathy.

After weeks of Broaddrick-related chatter, she stood before the world and said, "It is no longer acceptable to say that the abuse and mistreatment of women is cultural. It should be called what it is ---- criminal." Of course, she was speaking of such oppressors as the militant Islamic Taliban rulers of Afghanistan. Still, this Clinton moment was wince-city.

Fly the Chinese Skies


On January 1, 2000, according to Xinhua, China's official news agency, the heads of China's twenty-three airlines will board their planes and take a trip --- in accordance with a government directive. The point is to show Chinese air travelers that they need not fret about the Y2K computer bug, which might trip up navigation equipment and traffic control systems. The Chinese are on to something. Imagine if the CEOs of the HMOs had to enroll in their own plans. Or the head of a company that makes breast implants had to be implanted herself before her company obtained FDA approval. Or the top managers of utilities companies had to live within ten miles of their spewing facilities.

Or, to return to our inspiring example from China, airline executives always had to fly coach. What a wonderful world it would be. These days the Red-and- Green Chinese are swiping plenty of pages from the capitalist playbook.

Perhaps we can import this idea from them.

Up


JWR contributor David Corn is the "Loyal Opposition" columnist at New York Press. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

03/08/99: A Tale of Two Clintons
03/04/99: ..and Dumber
03/01/99: Post-Mortem Ad Nauseam
02/25/99: What’s Next?


©1999, NY Press.