It's the Intimacy, Stupid
Sex is great. Intimacy is better.
For eight years, Bill Clinton was the most public man in the world. Unlike most presidents, he welcomed interaction with the public. Clinton was to the world what the cyclist with the yellow jersey is to the Tour de France. He was the leader, but his strength came from the pack. He fed off of the public and the public fed off him. Clinton exuded energy and power. During his presidency, America soared. Consumer and business confidence was high. Americans went from welfare to work. Budget deficits turned into surpluses. The public knew that Clinton was intelligent and engaged. They knew that he understood them. They knew that he cared. The Middle East knew; a dying King Hussein marveled at his courage, caring, and perseverance. Ah, perseverance: Clinton took a punch better than the best prizefighter, even the low blows. He never quit.
The Clinton legacy of peace and prosperity has become a fond memory. It amazes me that pundits write off the achievements of the Clinton presidential years as insignificant. I am not surprised that Republicans spin the Clinton years that way. The revisionist history began during his presidency and has continued. To hear them tell it, for some ungodly reason, Clinton was spared from suffering the plagues of biblical proportions that Bush I and Bush II have endured. We have fallen so far in 15 months that the public has not had time to reflect on how much has been lost. Why is it so hard for pundits to write that peace and prosperity are both lost and the current president is incapable of finding them? This truth is self-evident.
The Clinton haters were not satisfied with tearing down the public Clinton. Mostly because they were incapable of that task, they sought to destroy the private Clinton. Achilles had his heel and Clinton had his sex drive, or so the story goes. I prefer Homer's Iliad to Starr's Report, but read much of the latter anyway. What Starr, and the pundits, missed was that Bill wasn't with Monica only for the sex, he was with her for the intimacy. Like REM sleep to the tired man, Clinton needed intimacy. He needed an escape from his public persona and the presidency. We all wish he found it with his wife but the truth is that, at times, he found it elsewhere. In a free country you would think that he would have only his wife to answer to and not 275 million people. It is ironic that a Party whose leaders could often be found in the arms of women other than their spouses were so quick to publicly condemn Clinton. Apparently their own dangerous liaisons were not enough to create in them kindler and gentler Republicans, those would not judge lest they be judged. Give Clinton credit for one thing—he wasn't trying to "trade-up" like many of his Republican counterparts à la Giuliani, Gingrich, and Reagan, to name a few. I am betting that the new car, new house, new job, and new woman is more a Republican phenomena than it is a Democratic one. Just ask Donna Hanover.
Hindsight is 20/20, but America would have been better off if half of the FBI agents assigned to Starr were hunting terrorists and the other half were staking out rectories. Maybe the answer is not less intimacy but more intimacy. Clinton was right about most things. Should we be so quick to write him off about this subject? Marvin Gaye and Clinton are not the only ones who get that feeling. That feeling populated the world. That feeling brings people closer together. When people are close they kiss, hug, and engage in other forms of communication. They even talk. Maybe there was a reason why Clinton was the Great Communicator who could feel our pain and Reagan was the Great Communicator who could read a TelePrompTer. Learn from Bill. Make love, not war. But if you have a partner, make it with them.
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