The president is not a comedian — at least, not when he’s trying.

That fact was evident last Thursday when Clinton performed before the
Radio-TV Correspondents Association Dinner.

If you didn’t think this man could do anything more to lower the
stature and dignity of his office, you overrated him. In one slapstick
show more appropriate for “Saturday Night Live” than the
commander-in-chief, Clinton showed what he’s made of — pure gall.

Well, he’s bombed in Iraq, he’s bombed in the Balkans, he’s bombed in
Sudan and he’s bombed in Afghanistan. I guess it was only a matter of
time before he bombed in Washington.

“If this isn’t contrition, I don’t know what is,” Clinton began. “I
know you can’t really laugh about this. I mean, the events of the last
year have been quite serious. If the Senate vote had gone the other way,
I wouldn’t be here tonight. I demand a recount.”

Huh, huh. So do we, Mr. President. So do we.

From there, Clinton went on to make light not only of his impeachment
trial, but of the current scandal involving the safety and security of
every American — the Chinese nuclear spy scandal, one described by many
observers as being the most serious since the Rosenbergs’ case.

He even mimicked his own canned responses to the questions he
expected at the next day’s press conference.

“The longest peacetime expansion in history. … No, I didn’t watch
it. … No I haven’t read it. …”

On to some gratuitous swipes at the House Republicans who impeached
him: “Folks, I was going to make jokes about the House Republicans
tonight, about the managers, but it wouldn’t be fair. They’re not here
to defend themselves. They’re all at the Taleban Correspondents’
Association Dinner”

Guffaw, guffaw.

“You know, the House managers were really unhappy with the Senate
verdict. In fact, they’re appealing it to the judges in the
Holyfield-Lewis fight. This is a pretty tough time for the right wing.
The president of the Council of Conservative Citizens had to resign
because of his alleged ties to Bob Barr.”

Of course, he didn’t mention that his choice for speaker of the
House, Richard Gephardt, has even deeper ties to this group than Barr.
Barr was called a racist by the Washington Post for speaking to the
group once. Gephardt, Clinton’s chief apologist in the House, spoke to
the same organization three times. But double-standards aren’t funny,
are they, Mr. President?

I guess the “no-gloat policy” established by the White House before
the impeachment vote has gone the way of national security and state

Clinton then went on to his choices for Academy Award consideration:
“Leaving Los Alamos,” which brought groans even from the otherwise
friendly group of establishment media types, “You’ve Got Subpoenas,”
“Throw Momma in the Grand Jury” and “Saving Private Life.”

Are we having fun yet?

“All in all, this hasn’t been too bad,” Clinton concluded. “I’d do it

Please, no, Mr. President. You’re about as funny as a heart attack.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t kidding this time. On Saturday night, he was
back telling jokes at the Gridiron Club’s annual roast.

There he was faced with a parade of Monica Lewinskys, all wearing
angled berets and soiled blue dresses. I’m not kidding, I’m afraid.
Columnist Carl Rowan donned a blond wig in impersonating Linda Tripp. A
first lady look-alike dressed up as the Statue of Liberty and sang:
“I’ll show those right-wing nuts, this broad’s got more than guts. Come
on, come through, New York, New York.”

About his tough year and his Arkansas roots, Clinton had this to say:
“I still believe in a place called … Hell.”

A la Harry Truman, Clinton doesn’t give people Hell. He just tells
jokes and we think it’s Hell.

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