Slick Willie, the Non-Stick Kid

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Bill Clinton could fall in a septic tank and come out smelling like a rose.

Don't get the impression that I'm backing water on my position of last week, in which I said we ought to wait until all the facts are in to judge his guilt or innocence of anything. I'm sticking to that.

The truth is, I just marvel at this guy's resilience. Some have claimed he is Teflon-coated, but that doesn't do justice to the shield surrounding him. There has to be something slicker than Teflon, although right off hand I don't know what it is.

Here in the wake of a week of the most savage media coverage ever experienced by anyone, Clinton is riding a wave of public approval of historic proportions. About 70-plus percent of the American public seem ready to anoint him King of America.

Well, it's not totally beyond understanding. You've got to figure that a goodly portion of those folks simply have a bone to pick with the media. The media have tended to go overboard on this story and they are beginning to see the backlash that is bound to result from such unfetter bawling.

I've heard people say the media should just butt out of it and let him "run the country." And the same goes for Ken Starr and the investigation, they say, he should butt out too.

Of course the media has a proper place in the scheme of such things. What the media seems to have lost at this point in history is a lot of its objectivity. I've heard some of the more highly respected journalist talking as if all the allegations made against the president are solid facts.

When you look back on it, things were going pretty well for the country during Nixon's final days. Maybe Bernstein and Woodward shouldn't have paid any attention to "Deep Throat" and just let old Tricky Dick slide by with all his sins. He was obstructing justice too, but maybe that's no big deal.

But there is a difference in the allegations facing Clinton. I would have to think that a man might have more right to obstruct a probe into his private sex life than into the break-in at a rival political headquarters.

Maybe if a guy lies about his sex life he does so because nobody should be asking him about it to start with? That's a notion expressed by a lot of people and one that I can come pretty close to agreement with myself.

The only thing that might make it relevant in Clinton's case is the Paula Jones suit and the judge has already ruled that evidence in the Lewinsky affair will not be allowed in the Jones trial. So much for that.

One thing the current polls point out is just how shallow the influence of the moral right is. People like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell command the respect of a small handful of righteous followers, but the key word there is "small."

Most people today seem far more concerned with issues that affect their pocketbooks than with morality. I know staunch Christian Republicans who vilified Clinton in 1992 who now sing his praises, primarily because he has contributed to their prosperity.

I think for the most part, his current wave of popularity is not that difficult to understand. You have the anti-media backlash, which I've already mentioned. You have a lot of women who think he's a handsome man, many of whom would probably have a fling with him themselves if the opportunity arose.

And then you have a lot of guys who have a great deal of respect for any dude who's apparently such a tomcat. No doubt a lot of them have told similar tales and feel a bit of empathy for the embattled prez.

Another thing Clinton has in his corner is his wife. Like her or not (and I don't particularly), Hillary Clinton seems to enjoy this kind of scrap. Her laying the whole thing to a "vast right-wing conspiracy" reminded me of Reagan's palaver about the "Evil Empire," or most any Oliver Stone movie.

Oh, there are people out on the right trying to sink Clinton's ship of state. But I don't think they're involved in any intricate conspiracy as such; they are too few to conspire that effectively.

Bill Clinton certainly has to be bolstered by what has happened the past week. Hopefully, he won't take the public's acceptance of his alleged actions as a license to hunt.

Another Monica Lewinsky popping out of the woodwork might get him ridden across the Beltway on a tarry pine rail. Or, it might boost his approval rating to the 100 percent mark.

At this point, I wouldn't know which to place my money on.

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