The Magazine

IN DEFENSE OF OUR PRESIDENT

Feb 9, 1998, Vol. 3, No. 21 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
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BILL Clinton HAS BEEN ACCUSED of many things -- so many that the current Clinton defense is: "The accused is presumed innocent, so the more I'm accused, the more innocent I presume I am." But there are some charges that cannot be made against the president, and we in the media must be careful not to make them lest we give the appearance of partisanship.

Bill Clinton is not a hypocrite. If a man believes that it is just and moral to redistribute wealth, there is nothing hypocritical in his attempts to redistribute some of that wealth to himself. When a man is an "A" student in the social sciences, he spins improbable fantasies to explain human events and wins good grades. There is nothing inconsistent about that man's continuing with his poli-sci research, spinning more and larger fantasies and winning elections. And a man who publicly declares that a broad range of sexual activities are acceptable cannot be deemed a fraud for indulging in one of them. Clinton, like the rest of us, may praise good while doing evil. But, to be a hypocrite, he'd have to know which was which.

Critics say Bill Clinton is guilty of inappropriate behavior. This isn't so. Bill is a humanist. He thinks man is the highest arbiter of right and wrong. And Bill's a man. It is appropriate to act as though you are above the law if you're sure the law is beneath you.

It is also appropriate to brand a respected federal prosecutor -- acting under the aegis of one's own attorney general -- a member of a "vast right- wing conspiracy." The truth is always appropriate. There is a vast right-wing conspiracy in America. Truly vast. Millions of voters conspired to put Republicans in control of Congress in 1994 and '96.

Furthermore, having sex with someone who is very young and wholly in your power is appropriate behavior -- for a Roe v. Wade supporter. The abortion-rights movement teaches us that no one is ever too young to be sacrificed for the comfort and happiness of others.

Does Bill Clinton abuse power? I think not. He loves power, worships it, revels in it, nurtures it, coddies it, and spoils it rotten, maybe. But this is not abuse.

Does Bill Clinton lack self-control? He'd ask, "What is this thing called " self," anyway? Is it biological, psychological, sociological, or a political construct?" And the president knows what controls it -- economic circumstances, early-childhood education, day care, and substance-abuse counseling. Does Bill Clinton lack self-control? Define your terms.

And finally, Bill Clinton cannot be accused of being morally unfit to run a Democratic administration devoted to increasing the size and scope of government, minimizing the roles of tradition and religion, politicizing daily life, diminishing personal responsibility, and furthering individual dependence on the state for everything -- including job offers from Vernon Jordan. Bill Clinton is perfectly fit for that. Give the fellow a break.