Political Hay

My Demons

Rendered helpless by them Clinton needed an exorcist, not an independent counsel.

By 6.23.04

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For the longest time the left denied that Bill Clinton was a liar and philanderer. The infidelity charges against him were "uncorroborated," "baloney," even "unbelievable," they said. Gennifer Flowers and all the other greedy connivers lied, they insisted. Clinton told the truth. Now his obfuscators openly admit he was a lying philanderer and disclose quite casually that they knew it all along. "Those particular weaknesses through the years that I've known him were pretty well known," says former Clinton flak Lanny Davis. Former Hillary Clinton flak Lisa Caputo says, "I knew he had demons." Candor only about 14 years too late.

The left, not the right, is now eager to say that Bill Clinton was demonically possessed. Clinton's soul was crowded with demons, they say. Not so long ago liberals would have called this sort of demon talk a right-wing smear against Clinton. Suddenly Clinton's possession is their consoling therapeutic model for analyzing him. This is yet another significant advance for the left: They used to describe the concept of demons as the superstitious babble of priests; now that psychiatrists speak of them liberals find the concept soothing. The passivity of it all is so reassuring: demons victimized the poor man. Rendered helpless by them Clinton needed an exorcist, not an independent counsel.

Moreover, these demons were fairly considerate, according to the left, far more considerate than the demons they eyed in Richard Nixon's soul. That is, Clinton's demons only baffled and corrupted him in his "personal" life, never in his public one, staying clear of his pardon powers, appointments, and public pronouncements. The demons were always thoughtful enough not to bedevil him when he was hard at work for the American people. Nixon's demons, on the other hand, left him alone in his personal life, but set upon him with a fury once he turned to official business.

Benefiting from a sizable stable of religious advisers, family counselors, and assorted therapists, Clinton has come to terms with his demonic possession. He has devised a "unified field theory" of his moral lapses, says Joe Klein of Time magazine. A big believer in "couples therapy," Clinton has discovered in such sessions that his childhood cast a spell over him, driving evil spirits deep into his soul only to reappear when conservative evil spirits called out to them during emotionally perilous moments of his presidency. "Clinton's theory is that he has always lived 'parallel' lives," writes Klein. "As a child, he hid the deep anger he felt over his stepfather's drunken violence behind a relentlessly sunny façade." Reeling from his stepfather's inappropriate behavior, Clinton says he was "fat, uncool and hardly popular with the girls" -- Monica Lewinsky would make up for this valuable time lost to childhood trauma. The trauma also made him a hesitant cyclist: "He was so clumsy," writes Klein, "he outgrew his fear of riding a bike without training wheels only as a college student at Oxford."

Again, it is important to note that the demons were disciplined. Clinton's public life was demon-free. He was fortunate that the parallel public life was the honest one. Having an affair with a government intern not all that much older than his daughter in a government building was merely the private side of the double life his stepfather burdened him with. So was perjuring himself and suborning perjury about the affair. So was lying to the American people month after month. Also thoughtfully, the demons only made Clinton lie about sex, nothing else. The demons disappeared when he turned to public business, such as the time he pardoned one of the world's leading fugitives, Marc Rich. This decision was "based on the merits," the now therapeutically lucid and honest Clinton tells Klein.

Clinton, writes Klein, has "fitted Lewinsky into his unified field theory of his life." Clinton said to Klein, "I think a lot of it was that I was back to living my parallel lives with a vengeance, dealing with the Ken Starr thing."

For the benefit of history, Clinton has given a name to one of his chief demons. It is Ken Starr. The demons of childhood ran into a demon from adulthood, causing a pile-up in Clinton's soul. The devil -- Ken Starr -- made him do it.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.