Get real! You are afraid that the way people read your book “will be affected, and distorted, by the political context in which it fortuitously happened to appear”? Get down on your knees and pray that’s the case. The operative word here is READ. You want them to READ the book. Who cares how they read it. They’ll read it because it’s the hot book, they won’t be able to put it down, they’ll actually finish it and they’ll like it. They may or may not decide that it is a book about Bill Clinton having an affair or a brilliant meditation on power but I guarantee that you won’t catch anyone saying at a book party “I’m afraid the way I read the book was distorted by the political context.”
Now, getting back to politics in Washington. You were asking why it seems that we are lacking a sense of momentousness about the Senate impeachment trial. That’s because there is no suspense, or very little of it. The outcome of this trial is pretty much a foregone conclusion (although with Bill Clinton you never know. Anything can happen). The only two real questions are whether or not they will call witnesses (and even then it promises to be very tame and decorous) and whether or not he will be censured if he is acquitted.
Most people here don’t have the passion anymore. The guy was impeached after all. They know he’s going to be acquitted, and censure, even if it happens, seems not to have the teeth the Republicans want or the kind of punishment the Democrats feel is appropriate.
Speaking of the Democrats I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to talk about Clinton’s “supporters.” The reason I have that word in quotation marks is that for the most part Clinton doesn’t have any real supporters. Yes, yes, I know there are all these people on the talk shows and in the papers talking about how unfair this whole process is. But the ugly little secret, not terribly well kept, is this. They don’t like him. He has few real friends. The reasons people are pretending to support him are varied. (And I’m not just talking about politicians here.) Here are just a few:
1) The Democrats have constituents and those constituents have weighed in. They didn’t want him impeached and they don’t want him convicted. The Democrats don’t want to lose their next elections.
2) The president is still the president. He still has enormous power. He still has the capacity to help or hurt people. Don’t underestimate this.
3) The people who publicly support Clinton really hate Ken Starr and the conservative Republicans who’ve taken out after him. They hate those people more than they abhor Clinton’s behavior. And they really don’t want them to win. They’re dug in on that point. If they admit to any wrongdoing on Clinton’s part they’re giving ammunition to their blood enemies. They would rather chance forfeiting their own moral standards than do this.
By the same token, the Republicans hate Clinton so much they will destroy themselves in order to destroy him. It’s really a political case of “War of the Roses” where the divorcing couple hate each other so much they are willing to destroy themselves to win.
At any rate, when Clinton gives the State of the Union message next week, think of these things when you watch the Democrats giving the president a rousing standing ovation.
Let’s talk tomorrow.
P.S. Just a word on President Clinton’s pay off to Paula Jones. Let’s just imagine the conversation between Bill and Hillary over this. Here are two suggestions from the wicked Slate staff I’m working with this week:
Bill:“Uh sweetheart. I seem to be a little short. You know that cattle futures nest egg in our blind trust? I was just thinking….”
Hillary: “When pigs fly.”
Bill: “How will I ever pay this off. I have no money.”
Hillary: “Darling, why don’t you take the cattle futures nest egg in our blind trust?
Bill: “Oh, honey. I could never do that. That’s your money. You worked hard for it.”
Hillary: “Don’t be silly my angel. We agreed that was for your personal journeys of atonement.”
Have you got any thoughts on this, Erik?