He had to escape north to do it, but he finally did it. After 33 years of dodging the Big D, Wild Bill Clinton unburned his draft card and announced he’s ready to serve. He wants Col. Holmes to swear him in, and as we speak he’s composing a revised letter to him to that effect. As he told a conference of Saddam removal engineers in Toronto, “‘If Iraq came across the Jordan River, I would grab a rifle and get in the trench and fight and die.” Taken at face value, the statement suggests he’d be willing to give his life for Israel. But it all depends on the meaning of every noun and verb in the sentence — and not in it.
Notice the name of Israel doesn’t appear in his pledge. So whose side would he be on? Not only that, in whose army? It’s as likely as not that by volunteering in Toronto he’d be enlisting in the Canadian Army, which in turn, in keeping with its government’s multilateralist policies, would more likely be fighting with the Palestinians and not against them and thus would regard Iraq as a neutral party at worst and certainly not a foe.
And what if Iraq didn’t come across the Jordan River? It could just as easily send troops and missiles into Israel via Syria and Lebanon, thus avoiding the Jordan River. What then? Would Bill have a new reason to dodge?
Besides, which Jordan River might he have been referring to? There’s certainly more than one in the world — for instance, there’s a Jordan River on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington. Could be that’s where Bill intended to draw a line in the sand.
And what’s this about grabbing a rifle? Gun laws he himself signed proscribe that very gesture. Note as well he said nothing about that rifle’s being loaded. Or coming equipped with a trigger mechanism and safety lock. Then there would be a 90-month waiting period before delivery.
Finally, so that we can give peace a chance, let’s just settle on the meaning of “trench.” Is this World War I he wants to refight? Or is he seriously willing to challenge world environmentalists by encouraging trench despoilage of fragile desert ecology?
As always, then, the Boy President turned Toy Soldier has raised more questions than there are answers. The biggest mystery, naturally, is how much he’s being paid to sign up — and how much of it will come out of the pockets of lowly folk in Losersville, USA, whose tax dollars have heretofore been designed to keep his lawyers gainfully employed and those lawyers’ favorite client mightily entertained.
What happens next isn’t clear, but Bill’s enlistment could go the way of Marc Rich’s pardon or Bill’s TV talk show. As per usual, it’s all Israel’s fault. Did it have to launch a preemptive hit on the Clinton News Network? On Thursday, Israeli cable companies were given official go-ahead to remove CNN from their programming. That means any Clinton combat heroics would go unrecorded. If he grabbed for a rifle, would we really know that’s what he grabbed? The hope is that Al-Jazeera will give Bill the coverage he craves. Fox News, meanwhile, will replace CNN in Israeli homes. Henceforth, Bill’s trenches will be known as Fox holes.
Much as we hate to disappoint, this Bill cannot be our EOW, not this week, not any week. Presidential and post-presidential immunity has nothing to do with it. Nor does the lack of a Supreme Court ruling on the award’s constitutionality in the case of an impeached president. Rather, it’s simply our insistence here at Enemy Central on impossibly high standards and our preference for those who really have demonstrated courage under fire.
Someone like this week’s winner, who has survived who knows how many bloody Pledge Weeks on PBS. So he’s been arrested in Vermont on breathalyzed charges of drunken driving. So he’s denied the bubbly and vino impaired his driving. So he insists his wife and friends detected no change in his personality. So he hasn’t accused the Gore campaign of leaking news of his arrest days before our deadline. None of that bothers us. In fact, it’s what we’d expect from him and why we respect, honor, and cherish him. It’s just that we still remember the way he was introduced to a naive nation many decades ago, shortly after he left the employ of Lyndon Johnson. It was always as a teetotaling, God-fearing, clean-living, model son of Texas evangelism. Could it be that Bill Moyers instead chose the path of sin?