Clintons Need Counseling,
Not Political Sneers
By Jules Siegel
Friday, September 4, 1998
ALTHOUGH 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.
Like 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 in public.
But how does he
recapture the confidence required to resume leadership?
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.
If 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.''
This may provoke
an ugly reaction from the narrow-minded prudes who make it impossible
for our elected offi cials to obtain the psychological counseling
After 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 the same.
We 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.
Bill 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?
Maybe he was so
terrified of confronting his wife that he went through months
of hell to avoid hurting her and facing her anguished wrath.
I 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.
Most 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."
That's 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 worthwhile.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]