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Perspective

From White House to Blockhouse

Bill Clinton is the American icon, whose face is rapidly eclipsing both the profile of the heroic young Kennedy and the simpering grin of Jimmy Carter—the presidential images that until recently symbolized victory and despair for Democrats and something else for Republicans. It was understandable if, in the early 60's, Republicans could not appreciate the Kennedy charm. If only Americans knew the truth, they must have felt, about this womanizing son of a rum-runner, they would not make the mistake of voting for him a second time. Perhaps they were right. In those days, there may well have been American citizens who cared enough about the intellectual and moral qualities of their leaders to take up their pitchforks and drive Mordred and Guinevere from Camelot.

There is no excuse for this kind of fantasy today. Ever since 1992, conservative journalists have been telling me that Clinton would end up impeached and indicted. The London Sunday Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, who had the goods on Bill long before any American reporter, confidently predicted he would be out by 1994. Unfortunately, the rugged honesty of 18th-century Americans is stored in a museum of moral history along with chaste women, chivalrous gentlemen, and the complete works of Parson Weems. If Clinton had been George Washington, he would have turned the cherry tree into gunstocks to sell to the Indians and spent the profits in a brothel....

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