The Hundredth Meridian

The View From Out Here

There is a story about the man who surprised another man in bed with his wife. "What did you do about it?" his friend demanded. "Hell," replied the fellow in disgust, "the sonofabitch lied his way out of it!"

My inclination, on this 15th day of February 1999, is to take the anecdote as a parable about the government of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, and the American Republic, in that order; the only problem I can see with this interpretation being that the original story is, to use the words of the President's men over the last few months, "just about sex," while the parable has to do—in a wav the 13 House managers would understand—with several millennia of Western political theory. Like most of my journalistic colleagues with whom I'm acquainted, I spent 13 months dismissing people whose first—and often last—question in any conversation was "When is he going to resign?" with a little of the impatience I used to feel when Easterners with an interest in American regional politics sought to discover from me when the Western states were going to secede finally from the Union (as if I'd know!).

I still don't believe that the fate of the United States hangs on Bill Clinton's going or staying, just as I still don't believe in the likelihood of Western secession. But since the constitutional "crisis" (no more...

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