Magazine article The Spectator

Clinton Castrated

Magazine article The Spectator

Clinton Castrated

Article excerpt

New Hampshire

EVERY DOG has his day. And for Buddy the First Pooch it's Doris. Last week, Doris Day wrote to President Clinton demanding that he be neutered - the dog, that is. Of all the potential perils the modern world has to offer, the possibility that Doris Day will publicly call for your castration must rank as pretty remote. Nonetheless, Buddy's perky blonde nemesis is insistent. If the President's chocolate labrador were to be left intact, she says, he would be liable to prostate problems which might cause embarrassing urinary accidents on grand White House occasions.

Buddy, like the President and yours truly and most other old hounds, is willing to take the risk: que sera, sera, as Doris sang in less proscriptive days. My first thought was that Miss Day was, as the psychologists say, 'projecting': after all, she was the one prone to embarrassing urinary accidents on grand occasions. She once told me that at her very first public performance, in kindergarten in Cincinnati 70 years ago, she wet her pants while waiting in the wings. `When I went on,' she said, `you could see it. The red satin had turned black.' She began her recitation:

I'se going' down to the Cushville hop And there ain't no niggie goin' to make me stop!

At which point, she burst into tears and ran off-stage - the start of a life-long aversion to public appearances.

Well, that's all water under the bridge to Buddy. But what are we to make of his own public appearance last weekend? On one half of the split TV screen, Paula Jones's defence team was releasing 700 pages of testimony portraying the President as a crazed sex fiend; on the other, his damage controllers were doing their best to show him as a loving family man Mr and Mrs Clinton and Buddy were seen strolling arm-in-arm-in-paw towards the presidential helicopter for a weekend at Camp David.

As always these days, Mr Clinton couldn't keep his hands off the First Lady: it's well known that, when the cameras stop rolling, he removes his palm from the small of her back and steers well clear of the tactile stuff until the next photo-op. But poor old Buddy can't quite grasp these ground rules. The First Dog bounded free of his pat-happy master, scampered towards the helicopter and then paused halfway to urinate on the lawn: the most shameless White House leak of the month. Either the doomed Buddy has decided he might as well go out with a splash or he's showing symptoms of the same aversion to public appearances as Miss Day.

My money's on the latter. The poor mutt is clearly labouring under a great deal of strain. Buddy really is this man's best friend - the last remaining FOB (Friend of Bill), the only one who can't be subpoenaed. And, like so many others, he's now being called on to take the bullet or, in this case, the knife - for his pal. Bill Clinton wasn't forced from office, but Web Hubbell, his Assistant Attorney-General was; Bill Clinton didn't go to jail, but James McDougal, his Whitewater partner, did; Bill Clinton won't be castrated, but Buddy's distinguishing characteristics are headed for the same shredder as Hillary's law firm billing records.

'I think the Clintons are really sort of like tornadoes moving through people's lives,' said Jim McDougal last year. `I'm just one of the people left in the wake of their passing by. But I have no whining or complaining to do, because I have lots of company.' He died a week ago, in prison, aged 56, apparently of natural causes though, given that he was in the midst of singing to Ken Starr, we in the Vast RightWing Conspiracy don't like to rule anything out. FOB RIP.

Today the Friends of Bill have a recruitment problem. The President is said to feel isolated: he likes to talk, but nobody's dropping by for a chat. Vernon Jordan, the celebrated Washington fixer (that's someone who finds jobs for Monica Lewinsky, not a guy who neuters dogs), is distancing himself: he wants to play golf with the next president, too. …

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