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The Boston Phoenix The High Road Not Taken

Once, there were sex comics and political comics. Now there are just comics.

By Barry Crimmins

APRIL 13, 1998:  In the early '70s, many comedians limited themselves almost exclusively to graphic sexual material. Not me. I shunned explicit sex talk for something with a much higher concentration of obscenity: hard-core politics.

So while others shocked and delighted audiences with the ins and outs of the human crotch, the only dick jokes I did involved a man named Nixon. With Nixon, assuming the worst was just an efficient use of one's time. He was guilty of nearly everything -- war crimes, constitutional crimes, crimes of paranoia, hubris, judgment: you name it, Nixon did it. But there was one area of Tricky Dick's conduct that no one questioned -- his sex life. If there was one immutable truth about Richard Nixon, it was this: nobody would ever even consider blowing the man.

My, how times have changed. Nowadays the only thing anyone seems to consider is the veracity of people who (reputedly) either fellated or refused to fellate Bill Clinton. Pretty cheesy, but things could be worse. Henry Kissinger could still be secretary of state.

Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Monica Lewinsky are the four women who head up this story. Apparently, Clinton has admitted to cross-pollinating Flowers, who has parlayed her assignation with the then-governor of Arkansas into a semi-lucrative career as Penthouse model, third-rate nightclub warbler, and professional-wrestling ring girl. Of the four women, she has done the best. By far.

Then there is Paula Jones, who after several years in court was finally sent away with this information: "If you said no and he didn't persist, you have no case." Jones will eventually concentrate all of her energy on her true calling -- being a punch line.

For the past couple of weeks, Kathleen Willey has been offering the media various versions of an alleged sexual proposition made to her by the prez. She failed to hook the tabloids or book publishers, but she managed to sell the venerable 60 Minutes on her tale of involvement with a presidential erection. Before 60 Minutes viewers could flip over to The Simpsons, a White House spin squad had leaked Willey's own propositions to checkbook journalists, as well as the fan letters she wrote Clinton after the alleged encounter. Kathleen has faded fast; 60 Minutes is still on the air.

Still jostling about the Ship of State is the loosest cannon of them all, Monica Lewinsky. When she first hit the news, it looked very bad for old Bill if the charges were true. Talk about a relationship power imbalance: on the one side you had an intern, and on the other you had the chief executive of the United States of America. Impeachment talk was everywhere.

How could Clinton do this? I have my theories.

Having grown up fatherless, he has problems with self-esteem. He craves external approval. Which is why he loves campaigning and, especially, winning. But elections come only every few years; what to do between campaigns? How can he be sure others care for him? Through sex, that's how. The sad truth is that the president of the United States still can't believe women will actually touch him . . . you know, down there. Since he has found some women who will help relieve the pressures of power, he is driven to search for others. So he has become the national equivalent of a beloved family dog, who never seems to get a big boner until there is a state dinner. And at dinner after dinner, the guests must act as if they are not living in mortal fear that he is going to sniff crotches, hump legs, or pull one of the female diners aside to show her how he can "get the red out."

As the Lewinsky affair came into focus, it didn't take long to establish that she was young, but not underage. An employee, not an intern. It seems she entered into her relationship with the president with her eyes open (insert your own stupid puns, I'm getting tired). In Lewinsky, Clinton found not a naive victim but someone else with a wounded psyche. Let's face it: no one with reasonable self-esteem brags of a childhood spent becoming an adroit liar. Monica is attracted to self-destruction in a way that Bill Clinton can appreciate. How else can you explain all those intimate conversations with failed D.C. careerist Linda Tripp's lapel? In Monica, Bill found a woman who can't believe he lets her touch him . . . you know, down there. For months the country has teetered on the brink of constitutional crisis because these two sexual retards are still astonished that if you rub it long enough, it will spit at you.

At first I thought Clinton was a goner, that Kenneth the Right-Winged Archangel would at least nail him on technicalities, that the president would drop in the polls and the Republican Congress would hound him from office. Shows you how much I know. Any blowjob comic worth his salt could have told you that all this was going to lead us to one unavoidable truth -- only about three Republicans are actually faithful to their spouses. The rest of them created a silence so widespread that for weeks all that was audible on Capitol Hill was the sound of money changing hands.

I also was unaware of an ace up Clinton's sleeve: Americans are mesmerized by people with Southern drawls who behave in a sexually embarrassing fashion. They can't get enough of this. It's called the Jerry Springer Show. When the scandal hit, Clinton's ratings skyrocketed just like Springer's. I never saw it coming: I had been tuned to C-SPAN.

So until this blows over, umm, peters out, oh, never mind . . . Anyway, I used to feel I stood a bit apart from most comics, because they discussed fellatio while I dissected public policy. Crotchgate has humbled me. I now defer to my foresighted comrades who have worked their entire careers toward this moment, when the country needs them for sage analysis of the most important issue of the day: the blowjob. Diceman, the floor is yours.


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