"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
Leave the Light on for You
So now we know - it was all
Clinton's idea. Donors were
rewarded with group coffees with
the President, dinners with the
President, and... jogging?
Clinton signed his
ridicule-warrant in his own,
disturbingly loopy handwriting:
"Ready to start overnights right
away." Though the documents were
subpoenaed, you have to wonder
if dissed former White House
aide Harold Ickes really had to
hand over four inches of 'em.
Maybe it was an intimidation
tactic - though at four inches,
it hardly measures up. But one
of the memos proves that the
goofy Lincoln Bedroom sleepover
idea was Clinton's own. Sigh.
A travesty, we're told, a huge
breach of ethics: Clinton sold
the Lincoln Bedroom to the
highest bidder. One hundred
grand and you get to sleep in a
room that Honest Abe (oh the
irony) used as an office.
Compared to other luxury hotels,
not much of a deal. The bellboys
at the Mondrian are better
looking, and the beds at the
Four Seasons probably aren't as
"lumpy." Of course, any
president who hasn't invited
campaign contributors to the
White House probably still lists
his tenure next to "Debate Club"
on his resume.
A list released to the press
revealed that over 900 people
had overnighted in the White
House, some high donors
including Hollywood stars, pols,
and a lot of Clinton's Arkansas
pals. The Washington Post
interviewed some of the pols and
pals and found a lonely prez,
dressed down, coming in to chat,
not a greasy money-raiser.
"He gave me a tour of the residence and what he really wanted me to see was his walk-in closet," said George Nigh, former governor of Oklahoma. "He said he had never had a walk-in before."
Presumably Chevy Chase, Barbara
Streisand, and David Geffen -
all Lincoln Bedroom tenants -
have seen large closets before
(hell, Geffen only recently
moved out of his). They were
probably treated to shows of
Although high-rollers have stayed
in the White House, Clinton
probably hasn't done much of
anything that's illegal. You
can't raise campaign funds on
federal property, but so far, no
one's proved that checks were
solicited in the Lincoln
Bedroom, only that Bill would
show up in jeans and bare feet
to shoot the shit. We all know
pols will pay to suck someone's
naked digits, but the idea that
someone might be seduced by the
thought of lapping at a pol's
toes is the scandal's most
revealing possibility. If an
Arkansan sans shoes inspires a
man to give $100,000 to the
Democratic Party, then he'd
probably give money to anybody.
Expect Gingrich and Lott to
purchase shares in Birkenstock
any day now.
If it's a revelation to anyone
that the presidency is bought
and sold, well, then shame on
you. The good news is that the
only people who seem even
remotely surprised or outraged
by the slumber parties are the
Washington press corps. The rest
of us are just put to sleep.
As Americans, we've long ago
given up the notion that money
and politics are any more
separate than church and state.
There's no Santa Claus, either,
and Salon really isn't the best
website, despite what Mom or
Time says. And, yes, the Oval
Office is a commodity, paid for
by the people who have money and
who want to keep their money.
Clinton's only crime was
aesthetic, not moral. And he put
something kind of goofy in
writing. But would you rather he
let Steven Spielberg pick the
movie for the night, or have the
head of Texaco suggest that
maybe Iraq needs to be bombed
again? Cash for sleepovers, or
arms for hostages?
Poor Bill. His real problem isn't
ethics. It's bad taste. Bush may
have enjoyed pork rinds and
horseshoes, but Clinton's the
real bumpkin. His naiveté
would be charming in a state
senator or young public
defender, but in the Leader of
the Free World it's just kind of
embarrassing. He may think he's
practicing Way New Politics, but
while his use of public
resources as rewards isn't
illegal, it makes him look like
a rube. His sin wasn't that he
sold political access; it was
that he gave it away so cheaply.
In the real corridors of power,
that little goes a very short
way; a hundred thousand grand
won't even get you product
placement on Seinfeld.
So let's end with a warning,
shall we? You may find yourself
invited to the White House one
day. Think nothing of it, by
that time, most Americans will
have had a chance. Remember,
though, to follow some advice
that this man obviously did not:
"As the president went by me, he gave me a big hug and said the stock-option plan was a 'darn good idea.' I was as high as a kite."
Have breakfast, send some
postcards, take a few pictures,
even share a cup of coffee with
the President. But whatever you
do, don't inhale.
courtesy of Ben Schmark