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Thank you, Bill

January 19, 1999

Man, remember the good old days, when the revelation that a conservative, family values lawmaker had driven his woman to an abortion clinic and had lied about his relationship with his second wife (or was it his third) would have gotten him run out of town on a rail?

Now no one bats an eye. Thank Clinton for lowering the Barr.

This, I think, will be the lasting legacy of the Clinton presidency and personally I think it is an important and highly beneficial one.

I mean now, think of all the qualified, but semi-tainted men and women who are once again qualified to run for office. A little hanky panky on a boat called Monkey Business? Not an issue. A little monkey business on a boat called Hanky Panky? Be our guest. Do you think Sen. Joe Biden's plagiarizing of a term paper would raise even a flicker of indignation today? You may have a toad fetish, but so what? If you've never chased a dame around the Oval Office with a Dutch Masters you're in.

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Nowhere was this more evident than last week, when the classy, debonair Larry Flynt went on national television to "out" his next victim, as he had done with House Speaker-for-a-nanosecond Bob Livingston - a man who not only cheated on his wife, but got a standing ovation for it from his House Republican colleagues.

Flynt's victim was Rep. Bob Barr. His sin? Hypocrisy. The reaction? So what. Eager reporters were clearly annoyed they had been called to witness such a trivial offense. They wanted flesh. Heavens, we expect our lawmakers to be hypocrites. So he lied about his aversion to abortion. That's not important, because he only lied to his constituents, not to a grand jury. (I'd argue that it's a worse violation of your public trust to lie to your own people about such a passionate, life-and-death issue as abortion than it is to lie to a disinterested grand jury about thong underwear, but that's just a personal quirk).

But reporters started walking out after they discovered that it was only focusing on some zero congressman named Barr and that his only offense was lying to the people who put him in office and lying to a wife or three.

Barr would have generated more interest if he'd held a press conference to reveal that Larry Flynt had been caught going to church.

Although there's still enough entertainment and interest in this sort of episode that Herald-Mail movie critic Jason Myers lamented to me that he wished there was a Larry Flyntesque character at the local level to rat out shady behavior in the Tri-State through monetary incentives.

What was needed, he said, was someone to do the dirty work. Some hideous person with a diseased mind, some horrible demented soul with absolutely no conscience who feeds on the misery of others, someone with no regard for his fellow man, no sense of dignity or fair play.

Hi there.

Yes, I would be happy to be the seedy clearinghouse of Tri-State area, elected official sleaze. Trouble is, I don't have Larry Flynt's millions, but we're only in it for the fun, right? So if you know an elected official who has been critical of the president's behavior and who has committed marital indiscretions, just send him or her a plain white postcard with the words "You have been Flynted." Don't ask for any money, so it's all niiiice and legal. And don't sign your name.

Just leave the public official - come to think of it, why should just elected people have all the fun; let's open it to everybody - wondering who knows and whether they might ever tell. No harm done, just makes them for the rest of their lives a little uneasy for abandoning their marital vows is all.

And besides, the beauty is that unless you've been a really, really bad person, what you've done won't have disqualified you from running for president of the United States. Thank you, Bill.

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