Department of Defenses
By Gene Weingarten
President Clinton apparently does not plan to address tawdry allegations of sexual misconduct during tonight's State of the Union speech, on the grounds that it would be inappropriate. Instead, he addressed tawdry allegations of sexual misconduct yesterday at a White House event about after-school child care.
It is not too late for the president to reconsider his State of the Union decision. The speech offers a rare opportunity for him to clear the air, and there are many approaches he could take:
The Emily Litella approach: "What's all this talk about oral sax in the White House? I've tried, and can assure you there is just no other way to play the durned thing . . ."
The lawyerly approach: "There was no sex. And if there was sex, I was not present. And if I was present, I was asleep. And if I did participate, it was at gunpoint. And if . . ."
The misdirection approach: "When the facts come out, it will be clear that the actions attributed to me were actually perpetrated by someone else whose identity cannot be disclosed at this time because Gephardt deserves the protection of due process and . . . Oops! Did I say Gephardt?"
The scholarly approach: By the canny use of footnotes, the president can stick to boring facts and hide potentially damaging admissions in fine print accompanying the text, and no one will notice:
"In conclusion, I would like to say that the internal affairs of the country are sound, and the gross national product continues to grow at a . . ."
The historical approach: "The only presidents who never cheated were losers like Chester Alan Arthur, who looked like a baked potato with hair. The American public deserves better."
The hairsplitting approach: "I think the American public knows what 'improper' means. Taken from the Old French impropre, the second accepted meaning is 'not normal or regular.' Normal, from the Latin normalis, in its third accepted meaning indicates 'designating or of a salt formed by replacing the hydrogen atoms from an acid with metal or metals,' and I am darned if I can understand what all this has to do with preserving and protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States of America, so help me God."
The chivalrous approach: "A gentleman does not discuss matters of a romantic nature involving the reputations of young ladies."
The Big Lie: "I am not the president of the United States."
Above all, Clinton should remember that things could be worse. Yes, his administration is teetering on the brink of collapse as unbearably lurid allegations swirl about him, but there are silver linings to everything: He will not have a grueling campaign schedule for congressional candidates this fall. Also, if all else fails, chicks still dig puppies.
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