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Wednesday September 23, 1998

The President Going Down #11

or, Bill's Secret.

He did promise us a rose garden. Remember a "place called Hope?" Remember, "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow?" Well, what can anyone make of this trail of busted hopes and forgotten tomorrows? Remember when he said that he would give us the most honest, and most upright administration since George Washington? Well, well, well. If you read the scandalous headlines, watch the news, or even listen to the discussions around the water cooler of your office or at your own dinnner table, you would expect a President running for cover, head down, broken, hang-doggy. But what do we see? An unusual standing ovation at the United Nations. Nelson Mandella praising Clinton "for being the person we'd all like to be -- on our best day." William Bennett, of course, misses the point in his "The Death Of Outrage," when he calls the President a "good confidence man." He does grant that the public likes Clinton, but clearly moralist/ideologues like Bennett cannot see the forest of neumenon for the tree-phenomenon. And as if to bolster my argument, Bennett says, "The closer you are [to the trees], the angrier you are [at the forest]." My brackets, not his.

Not to belabor this ying and yang of Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King's daughter has called for everyone to "leave the President alone." Hillary just yesterday praised her husband as a great man with a sweeping world vision. She seemed happy. On the other side, a fading Jimmy Carter found him a "disgrace to the office," and called for impeachment. There you go, a former heart-luster himself, now casting stones. And that leads to the beginnings of discovering Bill's Secret.

It's simple, really. Humor, consistency, attractiveness, humanity, friendship, fraility.
And most of all, he's successful. His deep inner secret of success is a composite of all of us.

We see ourselves in him.

He is unlike Bush, Reagan, Ford, Carter, Nixon, and Johnson. He is, ironically, somewhat like Kennedy and Roosevelt. You may not like it, you may fight it, but it's the truth. It's why he remains in office and why in the long run his Presidency will succeed where many others have failed. If you think about the Federalist Papers and what the founders envisioned for a true President -- everything unlike a King -- then you see my theory spring into life. He is a reflection of America, he is indigenous, growing out of the biological environment that is us. He is us. His talents and frailties, his unbelievable weaknesses and his unbelievable strengths ... he is totally us. He is conservative. He is liberal. He is a family man. He is a philanderer. He is a man's man, and a woman's man. He likes sports and he likes music. He likes action novels and poetry. His idea of a great night off is eating popcorn and watching "Air Force One." He even likes to go shopping. He is generous and forgiving. He obsesses and abstains. He exercises and then gets lazy. He loses weight and then regains it all back. And here comes the next, and perhaps most important, element of Bill's secret"

He is interesting, never boring.

And actually he is getting more interesting every day. His marriage is holding, his daughter still walks hand-in-hand with him, world leaders embrace him with full-body hugs, despite the enfilade from his Republican enemies that threatens to destroy him, crush him, disgrace him, and cast him out as a historic failure, he still laughs and jokes around. He still pushes ahead on Social Security Reform, world terrorism, economic vitality in the face of world depression, educational improvements, and he still maintains a schedule of speaking and traveling that would leave most of us in the dust, exhausted. And there we come to the next piece of Bill's secret, which cannot be denied:

He gives freely of himself.

Generous, fascinating, and easy-to-relate-to, Bill Clinton may actually be the greatest of all modern Presidents in the way he truly represents us. You may be tiffed about ethics (and that's a big concern to all of us), you may argue that he is interesting to us in all of the wrong ways, and you can even say that what he is giving of himself you wish he would keep to himself (but the numbers show you are in a minority), but you cannot deny this part of his secret of his success.

So here it is: the summed-up secret of Bill's success.
He is very and undeniably human.

And, it's not good to fight Mother Nature. (In your heart, you know I'm right.).

See you next time.

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