Magazine article The Spectator

The Dolls, the Zipper, and Adam Smith's Invisible Hand

Magazine article The Spectator

The Dolls, the Zipper, and Adam Smith's Invisible Hand

Article excerpt

Washington, D.C.

My hotel in Washington, a rather grand, old-fashioned one, was surrounded by reporters and television vans and photographers, many on ladders. Inside the lobby, the hotel's pretty publicity girl was visibly excited. `Are you expecting a celebrity?' I asked politely. `I'll say,' she breathed. `We're waiting for Paula Jones's lawyer.' Not even the lady herself, be it noted: she was invisible, closely guarded. It is one of the characteristics of the Clinton scandals that the principals rarely appear. Lawyers do the talking, answer questions, make threats, often against each other. The President issues his denials through lawyers, and otherwise carries on.

Last week, he was entertaining a small Oriental president, putting him on a chair so that his feet did not reach the ground and tipping him $1.5 billion, parading the White House lawn with his arm round Hillary, patting poor children on the head and presenting his newly neutered dog, Buddy. This harmless chocolate-coloured labrador is either the victim of the ferocious retired actress Doris Day and her dreaded Animal Welfare League, as doglovers think, or, as the opposing spin doctors claim, has been sacrificed as an expiating offering for Mr Clinton's as yet unpunished lusts. A neutered president, however desirable morally, would be unacceptable constitutionally, for he remains Commander-in-Chief. So chopping the dog is the next best thing and is seen as a smart move. Washingtonians say that the President has been heard whistling `Buddy, Can You Spare A Ball?' and jokes are believed to work in Clinton's favour, even those which revolve around his allegedly malformed penis, which figured prominently in court papers published last week. He is now known as `the Zipper', as opposed to Ronald Reagan, `the Gipper'.

The fact that America's chief magistrate figures daily in the media as a trouserless antic in a fast-moving farce does not seem to matter much - yet. It is now clear that Clinton is a compulsive womaniser of exactly the Jack Kennedy type, treating women as sexual servitors (his passion for fellatio figures prominently in the hundreds of pages of testimony) rather than persons. That has got Hollywood, in a particularly sinful phase at present, warmly on his side, and it has transformed the anti-Clinton novel Primary Colors into a movie panegyric. The feminists have decided that Clinton's pro-abortion stand is more important to them than his philandering. They will swallow his molestation of young women (one is only 21) so long as he continues to back the right to kill unborn babies, which he was doing last week more vociferously than ever. However, each time a new doll points a finger at the Zipper, the feminists flinch.

Curiously enough, a lot of po-faced, middle-aged women seem to be backing Clinton too, primarily, I suspect, because they can't stand the crowd of chattering flappers who are accusing him. Billy Graham, who likes to stay on the right side of whoever currently occupies the White House, says he 'forgives' Clinton. The pastors are keeping mum. When Oscar Wilde was brought to book in 1895, over 900 sermons denouncing him were preached in the United States over the next few months, the largest number in a single year ever directed against an individual, including the Devil. But there has been no pulpit fulmination against Clinton. That has been left to columnists such as Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, who last week described Clinton as Satan incarnate. If Clinton really is possessed by the Devil, she argued, that would explain `why so many people around him end up dead, jailed, betrayed, shackled, exiled, subpoenaed, depressed, humiliated, broke, ruined and smeared. …

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