Sexless in Washington

By Erik Tarloff

By Salon Staff
Published August 23, 2000 7:19PM (EDT)

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I am fed up with all the scorn heaped on our president. He is more human and likable than any of his critics.

Did he lie? Of course. Am I offended? No.

Now, just when we thought we might have heard it all, Robert Ray (bastard son of Ken Starr) is picking at the Lewinsky scab. Why can't he just admit that he is looking for the spotlight so that his future law practice will be as lucrative as he can make it?

Future presidents sexless? I don't care if they have a penis or have had an operation, I like to see results in running of the business of the country. What takes place behind closed doors is none of anybody's business.

-- T. Mills

Erik Tarloff's assumption that the public knew or at least suspected that Clinton wasn't living a monkish life in the White House glosses gets to the heart of Clinton fatigue.

Clinton's campaign did everything it could in '92 to create the impression that he had strayed once or twice but basically had a loving and rather conventional marriage. Gennifer Flowers was a liar, a curious footnote.

Then Paula Jones filed her lawsuit and more stories surfaced: "She's lying and anyway that was the past." Then Monica Lewinsky: "She's lying and anyway the American people knew who they voted for." And so on.

Clinton fatigue was not caused by sex, according to my theory, but by the steady unraveling of this spin: "You knew all along so I guess it's your fault." If Clinton hadn't misrepresented this part of himself so skillfully in '92 I don't think events would have unfolded in the same way.

In an age of compulsive journalism I don't think it's possible for presidents to hide their biography or psychology. The lesson of the Clinton presidency is that candidates shouldn't try.

-- Kevin Douglas

Marriage is good, adultery is bad. Sex is good, pornography is bad. Perhaps people view things differently inside the Beltway, but the majority of Americans agree with those simple tenets.

You write, "A certain lustiness -- a certain joie -- a certain appetite for the pleasures of life is an attractive quality; it humanizes the person who possesses it."

I agree. But self-control, maturity, and respect for the public are also attractive qualities. A clear lack of love for your wife, or lack of respect for your most solemn vows are quite distasteful.

But this seems to be too complicated for many, so let me make it simple: The president should keep it in his pants, except when he is alone with his wife.

-- David Fischer

Salon Staff

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