Not Political Sneers
Friday, September 4, 1998
I WAS amused and touched by President Clinton's
charming remarks on forgiveness, I think he's got
to do more than talk to get it.
many another stalwart Democratic Clinton
defender, I've accepted with very measured
sympathy his legalistic excuses and what many
people agree is his justifiable anger at the
invasion of his personal privacy. According to
the polls, most Americans don't want him to
resign. We're relieved that Hillary is not
packing her bags and that Chelsea holds his hand
how does he recapture the confidence required to
importantly, how does he persuade Hillary and
Chelsea that this will never happen again? It's
their private dilemma, but as a nation, we're
kind of in-laws in this matter. We have a right
to butt in because the first family's turmoil is
disrupting our political stability.
we look at this as a family problem, his only
real option is to seek marital or sexual
counseling and then, maybe, make it a kind of
crusade: ``I face my problems, world. I get help.
That's no shame. Hillary and I are, after all,
just another Baby Boomer couple struggling to
make sense of our lives.''
may provoke an ugly reaction from the
narrow-minded prudes who make it impossible for
our elected offi cials to obtain the
psychological counseling they need.
the discovery that Thomas Eagleton, George
McGovern's 1972 vice-presidential running mate,
had been treated for depression and received
electroshock treatment, he was forced to
withdraw. During the 1988 presidential campaign,
supporters of Lyndon LaRouche circulated the
false rumor that Michael Dukakis had been treated
for depression. Fears of an Eagleton-style
reaction are valid, but we've grown up since
1972. Shock therapy and sex therapy aren't quite
can't expect elected officials to be human
robots. We elect them on the basis of their
administrative skills, not their sexual
preferences or conflicts. They are entitled to
privacy and should be encouraged to seek therapy
for personal problems.
Clinton did lie. He could have gotten off of this
a long time ago and saved us all a lot of grief.
Why did he try so hard to cover his tracks?
he was so terrified of confronting his wife that
he went through months of hell to avoid hurting
her and facing her anguished wrath.
don't think it's appropriate to make
psychological judgments about people I've never
met, but I'm sure that Hillary is quite
formidable, possibly the only person who makes
him tremble with fear. Moreover, if we see
Clinton as this needy man looking for
affirmation, his whole personality is thrown into
relief and many otherwise inexplicable actions
become easy to understand.
important of all, do we really want to throw him
out because he failed us and his family in this
way? It would be cheaper and healthier to try to
fix him up. Writes Andrew Samuels, of the
University of Essex, and author of ``The
Political Psyche:"One of the values of
psychotherapy, derived from the struggles that
are experienced in therapy itself, is that it is
possible to gather together the strength to push
through the despair barrier and struggle on."
what we have to do as a nation and that's what
the Clintons have to do as a family. Just the
sense of public and personal relief and
liberation will make the whole ordeal feel