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Bill Clinton Has His Place in History
January 20, 1997

Richard Brian McCarty

The Democratic National Committee has dubbed Bill Clinton's Second Inaugural "An American Journey." Hmmm, seems like I have heard that before. Former President Ronald Reagan's autobiography is titled An American Journey. Yet again, Bill Clinton is borrowing a Republican's idea.

But, there is one thing in which the President stands alone. Yes, William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, has a niche in history all to himself. He is the only sitting American President to be sued for a non-official act. Further, of the forty men that preceding him to the Presidency, he is the only one to be accused legally of exposing his penis to a woman and asking her to kiss it. Let it sink in. Never before in our nation's history has anyone legally accused a President of sexual misbehavior.

We will not hear that as CNN covers the President's taking of the oath of office. We will not read about that in the New York Times. Even those "mainstream" media types asking if Paula Jones got a fair view from them miss the point. For the first time in history, the President of the United States is being sued for being a pervert. Where is the national shame? Where is the President's shame? And, what on earth does the First Lady feel about all of this. Say what you will about the woman, but she is the wife of the man accused of such activity.

What allegedly happened in Arkansas is horrible, especially if you substitute the name of your wife, girlfriend, sister, daughter, or friend for that of Paula Jones. Ms. Jones, a clerical worker for the state, was allegedly summoned to the hotel room of the Governor. Imagine her situation. Here she was, a lowly staff worker whom the Governor wanted to see. She was probably excited by it. She could tell it to her friends and her boyfriend.

But, what allegedly happened in that hotel room fits the definition of sexual harassment--the ultimate power over another--to the letter. The Governor allegedly fondled her and showed her his erect penis and asked her to kiss it. She brushed him off and made way to leave the room, according to her complaint. Then, Ms. Jones supposedly was told she was smart and to keep it to herself. If it happened, imagine the feelings of Ms. Jones. There she was, a lower middle class woman working to make ends meet, being treated in a perverted, ( I don't believe showing one's penis to a woman puts one in a "lady's man" category), manner by the man who could fire her boss's boss. The ultimate power play was put on her.

Perhaps the President did not do those things. That is why there are courts to determine the truth of the matter. But he is getting special treatment on this. Bob Packwood, a member of the United States Senate, was ushered out of the Senate for sexual harassment without any lawsuits pending. Clarence Thomas became the center of a firestorm when he was accused of harassing Anita Hill. Hill has never filed any formal complaint or suit. Yet, the President, in this age of harassment awareness, has a suit against him and gets an easy ride of it. Perhaps there are a couple of reasons why.

First, the feminist community has been silent on the matter. Those who supposedly champion women's causes are in the corner of Bill Clinton by default. It seems they do not care about a woman they do not know. Perhaps they want invitations to the next White House social function. Maybe they want the power of knowing the President and influencing policies. Whatever the reason, they appear to head organizations committed to helping women who are victims of sexual harassment and abuse, but are in fact committed only to themselves and the power of knowing the President. As such, they are taking the typical liberal course of sacrificing their stated principles to stay on the higher part of the Washington totem pole.

Just one outcry from a feminist group would end the illusion of Clinton's hidden shame. The media would then get involved more. They could do tons of good for sexual harassment, yet they sit and do nothing. Where is their shame?

And, there is another factor in how Bill Clinton is easing by Paula Jones. It is the lack of shame in America. We should all be ashamed we have a President who has to deal with these sort of things. The President, if he had the dignity and honor for the office of the men before him, should at least say, " I did not do what Ms. Jones said I did. But, I am ashamed and sorry this has happened. I know it embarrasses my wife, and the country. I am going to do all I can to clear my name and the Presidency, and give my wife some peace of mind."

That would be refreshing from the President. But, it will not happen. For all the commitment we as a nation profess to sexual harassment prevention and awareness, there is no public outcry when the President is the focus of it. No, we say, " They all do it." But, they all don't do it.

As a matter of fact, the other forty men to be President did not do it. Oh, some may have had sexual indiscretions. I am not a fool. But, each man had too much dignity to push himself on, much less expose himself to, a woman under his governing power. And, if he were in the situation Clinton is in, I believe each previous President would either resign or apologize to the nation. The previous Presidents' sense of dignity and honor for the office would demand that.

So, as the second Clinton term draws near, remember his words may be Ronald Reagan's. His youth may be John F. Kennedy's. His foreign policy may be George Bush's and Woodrow Wilson's. But, Bill Clinton's sense of dignity and honor for the office is his alone. And, that gives him his place in history.

Richard Brian McCarty has worked on several political campaigns of conservatives. He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina and a BS degree from Lander University. An experienced writer, McCarty's columns are written from a distinctly Southern point of view. He is sometimes Southern, sometimes conservative, sometimes humorous, and sometimes all three.


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