Derrida to the Defense

Chatterbox was so inspired by the recent news that the world’s leading intellectuals had flocked to the barricades to uphold Bill Clinton’s inalienable right to behave like, say, Francois Mitterrand. The pro-Clinton petition drive, organized by former French culture minister Jack Lang and novelist Bill Styron, began with an open letter denouncing Kenneth Starr that was published in Le Monde. (Talk about hitting Starr where it hurts). Chatterbox’s favorite passage from the letter declares, “Oppression begins whenever a power, whatever it is, intrudes into an individual’s private space and personal affairs.” That, of course, suggests that the Oval Office counts as Clinton’s “private space.”

At a time when Clinton’s verbal agility has reached comic proportions, Chatterbox can’t resist noting that one of the signatories on the letter of protest was none other than Jacques Derrida. That may explain where Clinton found so many multiple meanings for the verb “is.” How proud it must make Americans to know that we have elected our first deconstructionist president.

Walter Shapiro