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Jewish World Review Feb. 2, 2000/ 28 Shevat, 5760

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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Bubba should spare us phony love theatrics --
AT LAST, I've finally stopped throwing up long enough to write this column.

It wasn't that the president's State of the Union address was the longest in recent history. It wasn't the absurdity of declaring the "end of big government" amid proposals that, if put into effect, would cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $288 billion, according to the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation. It wasn't even the staged witnessing by individuals brought in to demonstrate the brilliance of Clinton's policies.

Why, there's a Columbine father over there. Who wants to challenge him on my gun control proposals?

And there's one of our proud men who served in Kosovo, a pilot-hero. Care to tell him my foreign policies are out of line?

No it wasn't even that contrivance that drove me to the water closet. It was the phony phrase, those three little words, mouthed across a crowded room: "I love you."

Please, Senor Presidente, whatever you may do in the future, spare us your feelings. Spare us your pain.

Spare us your childhood trauma. Spare us your personal redemption. And by all means, spare us your bad marriage.

Real presidents don't tell their wives "I love you" in the middle of a public address. Not even ordinary men do. And real first ladies don't put up with it. Such public displays are beneath her dignity. Or should be. It is more than enough that Hillary Clinton had to stand by her man while he competed in the libido Olympics; it is intolerable that she - and we - should have to endure such public patronizing.

You have to wonder, did they discuss this little mime show in advance?

Given Clinton's legendary perfectionism in speech-giving, it's hard to imagine that he left anything to serendipity in his final address. Besides, it had worked before. Why not toss a final connubial crumb to the masses?

Hillary: "Because, dear, they'll see right through it. They already think ours is strictly a political marriage. In light of what everyone knows, it'll be an insult to American intelligence, not to mention all women with half a brain."

Bill: "No, no, no. For someone with a whole brain, you don't read the public very well. You remember what H.L. Mencken said, 'Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people'; well, nobody ever got elected overestimating the intelligence of the voters. They're as dumb as sheep, Hill. Watch me. And smile when I do it, dammit, or I just might make another stack of missing documents appear on your night stand."

Later that night ...

Clinton praises his wonderful wife, Chelsea's magnificent mother, the nation's great first lady. And mouths those icky three words: "I love you."

And she smiles, sure enough, while I -- and I like to think millions of others -- are thinking: Two words, two words, please mouth those two little words.

But no, she accepts it. She plays her role, the crowd loves it. No one seems to notice the utter insincerity, the cheesy hypocrisy, the cloying theatrics of the gesture. Instead, the lack of national nausea seems to suggest yet another Clinton victory.

The American people, it is said, are looking for a candidate with character. This time, they want authenticity. The question is, after eight years of smoke and mirrors - where "no" really means "yes"; where "I didn't" means "I did"; where sex isn't really sex; where "is" might mean "isn't," and "I love you" really means "they're as stupid as sheep" --- will they know it when they see it?

JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.


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