Clinton and Creativity

Is you is or is you ain’t an artist?

What happens to the brain when you write or read a poem, beyond the moment of creation or enjoyment? … How can creativity be taught and fostered?Those are some of the questions that led Louise T. Blouin MacBain, founder of one of the world’s largest art magazine publishers, to set up the Louise T. Blouin Foundation. … It was to be officially inaugurated tonight with an awards ceremony in New York. …The honorees for their contributions to creativity include former President Bill Clinton. …—Felicia R. Lee, “A New Arts Foundation With a Focus on Creativity,” New York Times, May 2, 2005.Q: Whether or not Mr. Bennett knew of your relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, the statement that there was “no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form, with President Clinton,” was an utterly false statement. Is that correct? A: It depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is. * If the - if he - if “is” means is and never has been that is not - that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement. …Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no….I wasn’t trying to give you a cute answer—President Bill Clinton’s grand jury testimony, Aug. 17, 1998.

Discussion. It’s true that Clinton’s lies (sometimes under oath) had to do with personal behavior, while Bush’s have to do with public policy. But let’s not get sidetracked into that old argument. What’s beyond discussion is that Clinton’s lies display the workings of a creative mind, while Bush’s lies, display the workings of a mind that scarcely knows or cares what the truth is. (See Timothy Noah, “Defining Bullshit.”) Whatever happened to craft?

Correction, May 2, 2005: An earlier version of this column had Clinton saying “means” rather than “is.” The error was due to a faulty Time magazine transcript. The link has now been changed to a Washington Post transcript that is correct. (Return to the corrected text.)