Since the Monica scandal broke, armchair shrinks have been psychologizing round-the-clock about the president’s libido. His indulgent mother is to blame. Or is it his no-goodnik stepfather? Or his impulsive genes? Or his “anti-social personality disorder”? Lost in the Clinternalia is an essential question about the president’s womanizing: How does he pick them?
If allegations are true, Clinton has slept with (or tried to sleep with) lawyers and prostitutes, reporters and flacks, singers and groupies, interns and beauty queens, whites and blacks, blondes and brunettes. What on earth do they all have in common? Slate has compiled a list of the 16 women most frequently linked to Clinton (click for the list and bios) and tried to figure it out: Does the president have a type? Who is his ideal woman? If the president is a “sexual predator,” as some would have us believe, who is his favorite prey?
Above all: She’s big in the face. She has big lips; full, fleshy cheeks; and enormous, showy teeth. Hillary Clinton, who has chipmunk cheeks and a whopper of a grin, may be his model here. Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Susan McDougal, and Monica Lewinsky also fit the type. They have huge teeth, dentist’s-office teeth, the kind of choppers that can tear flesh from bone. Of the women linked to Clinton I’ve seen pictures of, only Kathleen Willey has an average-size mouth. (In a recent, cruel Salon column, Camille Paglia pondered the significance of Clinton’s women’s big mouths. She called Paula Jones’ features a “walking, talking advertisement for oral sex.” I leave such speculation to experts.)
She has big hair. A cliché about Clinton, but a true one. Flowers, McDougal, Lewinsky, Jones, Dolly Kyle Browning, and Elizabeth Ward all wore big, fluffy manes at the time of their alleged Clinton encounters. The president used to prefer the fright-wig Arkansas hairdos of Flowers and Jones. Lately he’s gone for a more sober look. Lewinsky and Willey have long, but controlled, hair. Hillary has had a dozen or more hair incarnations, but her locks have always been shorter than those of Clinton’s other women. Clinton likes brunettes plenty (Lewinsky, Bobbie Ann Williams) but seems to prefer blondes (Browning, Sally Perdue). He doesn’t mind if the color is from a bottle (Flowers, Hillary). Bangs are fine (Flowers, Lewinsky), but so are no bangs (Perdue, Ward). Curly, wavy, straight–it doesn’t seem to matter to Clinton.
She has blue or green eyes. Brown-eyed girls are uncommon in the Clinton pantheon. Though we hate to say this in a family publication, she has large breasts. (Evidence: several men’s-magazine photo spreads. More on this later.)
And she’s a beauty queen. Clinton’s been linked to–count ‘em–three holders of the Miss Arkansas title: 1958 winner Sally Perdue, who has admitted an affair; 1980 winner Lencola Sullivan, who has denied an affair; and 1982 winner and Miss America Elizabeth Ward, who has denied an affair. Most of Clinton’s other alleged paramours have been lovely, too.
She’s in her 20s. Youth may be wasted on the young, but it’s not wasted on the president. Most of the Clinton women were in their 20s at the time of their Clinton encounter; he was a decade or three older. Clinton was 36 at the time of his alleged affair with the 21-year-old Ward. He was nearly 50 when Lewinsky was 21. But Clinton is no ageist. Perdue is almost a decade older than he is. And his longest relationships have been with contemporaries: Hillary is his age, as is high-school sweetheart Browning.
She wears either revealing clothes or professional clothes (or perhaps both). The best way to catch the president’s eye seems to be to show skin. In 1984, Clinton picked up rock groupie Connie Hamzy when she was sunbathing in a bikini by a hotel pool. Lewinsky reportedly wore a provocative dress to attract the president’s attention, and McDougal did a Madison Guaranty TV commercial in hot pants. But Clinton enjoys the librarian look, too. Hillary is buttoned up. Willey, allegedly propositioned in the White House, was dressed professionally (at least till Clinton “untucked” her blouse). And Browning, a lawyer, is neat as a pin in her publicity photos.
Ideally, she’s Miss Arkansas. Otherwise, she works under him. Lewinsky was a White House intern. Willey was a secretary in the White House counsel’s office. Susie Whitacre worked in Gov. Clinton’s press office. Jones was an Arkansas state employee. And Clinton put Shelia Lawrence on the federal payroll. Besides beauty queens and underlings, Clinton’s taste is eclectic. Browning and Hillary are lawyers, Sullivan a journalist, Williams a prostitute, Hamzy a groupie, McDougal a businesswoman.
She’s loyal to him even when he doesn’t deserve it. Hillary has endured philandering for decades. McDougal has served time rather than rat on him. Lewinsky may have lied under oath for him. (Some Clinton women may be loyal because he gave them favors. Vernon Jordan simplified Lewinsky’s job search. Clinton found federal jobs for Willey and Lawrence. And Hillary got to be in charge of health-care reform.)
Loyalty may be his ideal, but he doesn’t always get it. Browning wrote a novel about her romance with Clinton. Hamzy and Perdue have blabbed extensively about their affairs. Flowers sold her story to the Star and wrote a tell-all memoir. The tabs paid Williams $25,000 for her story. And Jones’ suit landed him in the mess he’s in.
No relationship can flourish without shared interests, and the president’s are no exception. Like Clinton, the president’s ideal woman loves music. Flowers was a cabaret singer. Perdue claims she used to croon “He’s Just My Bill” to him; he serenaded her with “Long Tall Sally.” Ward sang “After You’ve Gone” at the Miss America Pageant. Hamzy is a professional rock groupie. Sullivan dated Stevie Wonder.
And, like Clinton, his ideal woman may be a shameless exhibitionist. Lewinsky reportedly talked dirty to Clinton and sent him an explicit tape. Hamzy, who claims to have slept with 24 men in one night, sold her sex story to Penthouse. (She said, “I may be a slut, but I’m no liar.”) Flowers ($200,000), and Perdue ($50,000) stripped for Penthouse. Ward ($100,000) did the same for Playboy.