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An Old CTTS: Doran and the President's Troubles - Mo's Journal
January 10th, 2008
05:18 pm

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An Old CTTS: Doran and the President's Troubles
With the possibility of another President Clinton, I've been remembering the first. He was not my choice for a Democratic candidate but I have quite a bit of admiration and respect for him anyway.

I don't like how both Clintons have really pulled the party to the right. I don't like their centrist message. I don't like the way he encouraged the Democrats to reinvent themselves as Republicans, only nice. I really, really resent his signing DOMA after all the hope and promise that we'd have a POTUS who believed in equal rights for gay men and lesbians. Still, with all that, there are many things I admire about him. He's smart, hard-working, a thoughtful person who explains why he does what he does and, of course, amazingly charismatic. I've always found both Clintons eminently likable and don't really understand how Hillary Clinton is viewed as not easy to like. It puzzled me when she was a candidate's wife, when she was First Lady, and it still puzzles me.

What puzzles me the most about the Clinton years, though, is the Lewinsky scandal. It all seems like a dream looking back. Did the whole country really spend a year talking about blow jobs? Did government virtually stop doing anything else in order to deal with this, at length? Did Kenneth Starr really write and publish a government document more sexually explicit than sex education materials under the Republicans? Did I and all my friends actually read it, and discuss it, for months on end? And did parents all over the country suddenly have to explain to elementary school age children what the scandal was about? Yes, Virginia. It all happened. I was there and lived to tell the tale. Here's one of the tales:


So, the Monica Lewinsky story had broken. I was eating dinner with my children: Doran (age 9), Kendra (age 5) and Zara (not quite 3). Doran said, "I heard at school the President might lose his job. Is the President going to lose his job?"

I told him that I didn't know, that nobody knew yet. "Tell me what you heard," I said, "and I'll try to explain what's going on."

"Some kids say he was having an affair, so he'll lose his job. Some other kids said that someone just said he was having an affair but there isn't proof."

And he wanted to know what the real story was. I thought that was really not too bad a starting place. So, I went into a long explanation of the Paula Jones case and what constitutes sexual harassment and depositions and sworn testimony and perjury charges and impeachment. I had to explain what perjury is and how it differs from simply lying (Kendra's comment; "It's not a good idea to lie, because usually your parents find out" Me: "And sometimes the independent counsel").

From there I went on to separation of powers and checks and balances, and sitting presidents can't be indicted, only impeached. So, back to Andrew Johnson's impeachment trial and fast forward to the Watergate break-in and subsequent coverup, Richard Nixon's resignation and unindicted co-conspirators and so forth. Lots of questions, from both him and Kendra. Good discussion, lots of issues, etc.

And there I was with a huge smile on my face, thinking I'm doing great. I'm thinking I'm having a real Educational Moment right here. I was humming Helen Reddy's song, having worked all day, made dinner and now explaining complex legal/social/governmental issues to three kids. I wanted to shout, "Look at me! I'm turning a national scandal into a civics lesson."

And then I summed up by saying, "So, nobody knows right now if he did have sex with this woman. He said in his sworn testimony that he didn't. She said in her sworn testimony that they didn't have sex. But she also said on tape that they did. So she was lying one time or the other, but we don't know which. Now we just have to wait and let the process work and see what happens."

And Doran, who had been absolutely into it up until this point, stares at me dumbfounded through this last bit, jaw dropped open, eyes wide, and said "Sex?!? Sex?!? You mean an affair is sex?"



Every time I think I've got this parenthood thing buttoned down, something like this happens.

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From:executrix
Date:January 10th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
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1. Yes! We did spend a whole year talking about blow jobs!
2. Because the Republicans said that blow jobs per se didn't matter, but no one who LIES is fit to be President.
3. Gosh, we haven't heard much along THOSE lines recently.
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From:momma_geek
Date:January 11th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
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LOL!

Just when you think you know what's going on in those little minds of theirs ...
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From:mofic
Date:January 11th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)
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I know! Parenthood is such a work in progress.
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From:melannen
Date:January 11th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
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I've been substitute teaching in middle school American History classes. It's in the textbooks now: they all learn that two US Presidents have been impeached.

The books don't explain why Clinton was impeached. The eleven-year-olds have theories that they have put together from things that they have heard elsewhere. I found myself in a class trying to explain to two little girls that Clinton was impeached for liying, not for sex, but he claimed he hadn't lied, because he thought that what he did didn't count as sex, but some people thought that it did, and desperately hoping they wouldn't want to know more than that.

(And of course, I was only a teenager at the time, so it's not like grown-ups were going into explicit detail around *me*. I felt like I should go read up on it to make sure I had my facts straight, except that I'm honestly glad I've forgotten as much as I did....

(I'm also amazed that it hasn't been dragged back into the limelight as much as I expected it to, during the campaign. Do the American media actually have a sense of shame, or are they just saving it for later?)
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From:mofic
Date:January 11th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
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It's very interesting to me that 11-year-olds are learning that two presidents got impeached, because I think pre-Clinton they wouldn't have known that one did. I don't think I learned about the Johnson impeachment until high school. Do they teach them that two were impeached and neither convicted (which I think is significant)?

I don't really expect the Lewinsky scandal to be a factor - or much of one, anyway - in this election. Bill Clinton remained an extremely popular president after it. And as to Hillary Clinton - well the conservatives can't really fault her for staying with her straying husband after he apologized, can they?
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From:kestrelsparhawk
Date:January 11th, 2008 05:12 am (UTC)
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What a funny parent story. "You mean an affair is SEX?" I happen also to have been thinking about it today -- merely in comparison to the current administration's transgressions and how they don't seem to be quite so self-righteous these days. In public.

I always thought blow jobs were sex. On a tape of Monica talking to -- oh, that evil woman -- she says, "We didn't have sex! We were just messing around!" That sounded surreal, but by the definition of at least 60% of the fanfic writers in the HP universe (don't check my figures; no proof) Bill C was stating the precise truth -- he didn't have sex, just a blow job.

I definitely suspect Hilary is much more of a grownup in her definitions and perspective. Nonetheless, Obama seems the most grownup of the lot to me (except maybe Kucinich, who will never win.)
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From:mofic
Date:January 11th, 2008 11:43 am (UTC)
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I always thought blow jobs were sex.

LOL! It depends on what "is" is.

I mention that quote because I think that Bill Clinton's defense was less about a definition of sex and more about the almost talmudic (or jesuitical :-), it you prefer) hair-splitting logic of depositions. And ultimately those arguments didn't hold - or hold enough to avoid the whole brouhaha - because it was about sex. With a woman not his wife. And getting caught. But, of course, it was about politics as well, because the men who went after him were doing the same thing as they indignantly expressed their outrage (remember Newt Gingrich?)

Interesting point you make about the slash writers who don't see oral sex as sex. I think it's for different reasons, though...

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From:kestrelsparhawk
Date:January 12th, 2008 06:11 am (UTC)
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Aggh! You've started far too many interesting threads this week!

If you're right on what Clinton's scandal was about, then I agree -- slash writers would have different reasons not to see oral sex as sex. Hmmmm... you know, would you have any interest in co-designing a meme to find out what people think of as sex?
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From:mofic
Date:January 12th, 2008 01:50 pm (UTC)
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That's a great idea. We could do a quiz and ask metafandom to pick it up, which would get more respondents. I'd like to divide it into several parts. So we could ask, "In a slash story if two characters do the following, have they had sex?" and then have check boxes for a variety of activities, from kissing on the mouth through oral sex without orgasm through oral sex with orgasm to anal sex and so on. And then ask if it's a het story and a similar list (although it would obviously have what my friend L. calls PVI - penile/vaginal intercourse - when the first would not). And then have a list for femmeslash/saffic. But then go on to real life situations - i.e. if it's a politician with someone other than his wife; if it's a high school kid. And the last one would be to ask the person responding when do you think it's sex if it's *you*. What do you think?

Sorry about too many interesting threads :-). (Not really sorry)
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From:kestrelsparhawk
Date:January 12th, 2008 08:17 pm (UTC)

Sex Meme

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I like that! (also your Scott icon.) As fate would have it, I read your email before this and so responded without knowing the full context situation. Keep that in mind when looking at it.

I love the idea for real life situations. To make it more manageable, they could be "part one" and "part two." I mean, part one is the theory question, and part two would be the real life questions.

or speculative questions -- is it sex if someone's alone, but jacking off while watching two people having what you define as sex?

Oh my, I do like this. I think it would be waaaaay more interesting than most of the little fun memes, and there'd probably be interesting discussions to read tucked all over various fandoms.
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