Maralyn Lois Polak is a Philadelphia-based journalist, screenwriter, essayist, novelist, editor, spoken-word artist, performance poet and occasional radio personality. With architect Benjamin Nia, she has just completed a short documentary film about the threatened demolition of a historic neighborhood, "MY HOMETOWN: Preservation or Development?" on DVD. She is the author of several books including the collection of literary profiles, "The Writer as Celebrity: Intimate Interviews," and her latest volume ofMore ↓Less ↑
Here’s a scenario for you.
Just suppose Bill and Hillary really have an “arrangement.”
What if they are one of those thoroughly post-modern American couples? You know, who share bedtime tales of consensual cheating when things inevitably get boring? What if they “bought” George and Nena O’Neill’s lullaby to licentiousness, Open Marriage, or the more obscure tome, Adultery for Adults: A Unique Guide to Self-Development, by Joyce Peterson and Marilyn Mercer, and took those books to heart? What if the only ones who don’t know anything about this are the American electorate and daughter Chelsea? Let’s assume the Clinton’s dog and cat are let in on the secret, for the sake of argument. What if we are the last to know?
OK, what if … Bill and Hillary are consenting adults in a dynastic coupling of convenience, and ALL the rumors and hyperbole and speculation are true: That the Clintons are both try-sexual, just ask fly fisherman Dick Morris, he knows all this stuff. And that, yes, the Prez has definitely leased out the country to Space Aliens, with proof of that being that Steven Spielberg slept at the White House, too. And what if Hillary WAS romantically involved with Vince Foster before his suspicious death, besides personally selling out our health care system under the guise of reform. And just suppose the gossip is really gospel — what if Bill DID do all those hundreds of women, even Walter Mondale’s daughter, plus, as one slavering and drooling smarm-sheet put it, “the ones who waited in the bushes while he was jogging, the young ones at the Vantage Point apartments, the ones in Chelsea’s school parking lot, and the ones in trooper cars at the end of the street, after the street had been blocked off,” what then?
What if the reason Barbra Streisand slept over in the Lincoln bedroom at the White House was not her reward because she contributed that $60,000 to the Clinton campaign, but, worse still, because she was a “very good” friend of Hillary’s, as first packaged, and then perhaps became an even better one of Bill’s, jogging with him around Columbus Circle or wherever it was that they could jog in plain sight followed by a phalanx of Secret Service men. This is just a hypothesis, mind you, but let’s give it our attention. Just what if?
Well, for days now, I’ve been obsessed with researching a possible Streisand-Clinton connection. “It’s under BabsandBillDotCom,” quips an LA screenwriter calling himself Roberto Libido. He’s not too far off. Right before the November election, Barbra Streisand decided to go “online”: “In my own little way — even though I don’t understand computers — to encourage voters to vote Democratic.” And so she set up an Apologia-for-Bill temporary AOL website and began campaigning on the ‘Net. The site, stocked with disinformational newspaper propaganda stuff about how bad other American presidents were, attempted to neutralize various Clinton character flaws. (“A Liar-In-Chief Is Nothing New; Clinton’s Not the First, or The Most Damaging,” written by Juan Gonzales of the New York Daily News; and other similar pieces.)
And then, shy or not, Barbra Streisand — trumpeted by AOL as “the only artist to have been awarded the Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, Tony, Peabody, Golden Globe, and CableAce honors, a long-time supporter of liberal causes, candidates, and President Bill Clinton” — cast off her stage-fright and made her first-ever online appearance, in an AOL forum, saying OK, he lied, but these weren’t bad lies. Poo-pooing any moral consequences of a Presidential propensity to prevaricate, she airily dismissed such behavior with, “There are lies, and then there are lies,” she says, mangling the famous quote, “There are lies, there are damn lies, and then there are statistics.”
She goes on: “In my opinion, a lie about personal indiscretion is far less significant than a lie about illegal government operation. … He was trapped into perjurous (sic) territory …,” that if he did lie, it was for the good of the country and his family. Amusingly enough, her now-permanent website indicates “Truth Alert, a work-in-Progress, coming soon.”
Wait. It gets better. Though it’s all a blur, I dimly recall hearing a radio report that Monica Lewinsky seems to have apologized to Barbara Walters lately for some catty taunts captured on one of the Tripp tapes, where they were making fun of a Barbara. Actually, it was a “Barbra” — you gotta love those transcribing mistakes — Streisand. Apologize? “I heard Clinton, in trying to apologize, stumbled over his words, and wound up apologizing to Corbett Monica,” offers Robert, a real kidder.
But Monica’s supposed apology to Barbara Walters sets off my story alarm. I think back to how the original report of a Streisand sleepover at the White House initially provoked my radar and made me think something was up. That, of course, was before Americans really learned the White House had become a bed & breakfast for Big-Buck Supporters. Then we hear whispers that Streisand is “banned” from the White House. And then, indulging in the tendency to view most public events as an intricately orchestrated dance of spin, I remember how suddenly Barbra Streisand Got Married. How Fun!!! Just like in the movies!! We learn she went on a “blind date” with hunky-but-not-as-hunky-as-Bill actor James Brolin, they magically clicked, and less than a year later she has one of those nearly-instant-after-half-a-lifetime-of-being-a-divorcee Hollywood marriage ceremonies that seem to materialize out of nowhere like Sea Monkeys.
The next thing I know, Judicial Watch, a conservative legal foundation which has brought nearly a score of civil suits against the Clinton Administration, is, according to the New York Post, calling for the chanteuse to come clean on her true relationship with the President: “It’s no secret in Washington that Ms. Streisand has been romantically linked to the President, and perhaps even banned from the White House,” they alleged. “She should tell about her relationship with Mr. Clinton so the American public can fairly judge her credibility on the impeachment issue. …”
She releases a response beginning with “Boy, they sure know how to fight dirty. …” and fusillades into self-righteous rhetoric which ignores the romance question. Except for the fact that Barbara Streisand is quite correct — Our government IS being hijacked right out from under us: “This is what the right wing does. With threats of malicious prosecution, they try to intimidate not just me, but everybody, from exercising Constitutional rights of Free Speech. This is not just about the impeachment of Bill Clinton,” she asserted, it’s about an attempted government coup.
What it really is, as she had pointed out in an introduction to an appearance by President Clinton at a LA fund-raiser for Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat last October, is a way to “distract the American public” from what’s really going on in Washington, D.C., a mean-spirited and intolerant Republican agenda that revokes a woman’s right to choose, slashes Medicare, raids Social Security, jeopardizes separation of Church and State, protects the NRA and the tobacco industry, denies civil rights to homosexuals, gives tax cuts to the rich, and favors Big Business over working families. Amen, Sister!!
So now what? What would we Americans have to think about without these federal pseudo-scandals and media dumb-shows to distract and anaesthetize us? And haven’t we become addicted to these feeding frenzies? Without them, we might well have to face the very unpleasant reality of what’s actually going on in this country: the fairly certain eventuality that quite soon the much-ballyhooed so-called federal, state, and local government fiscal surpluses will be revealed to be bogus budgets balanced on the backs of the poor, with sad and dangerous consequences.
And those are the kind of Truths that should matter, not who diddled whom.