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How to (Not) Talk to Kids About the Clinton Affair

By Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 12, 1998; Page E01

Parents nationwide are concerned about how to explain to their children the graphic de tails of the presidential scandal. Some might find this a valuable opportunity to frankly and openly instruct their youngsters on the totally natural, even beautiful, details and mechanics of the human sexual response. These parents are, of course, idiots. The wise parent will want to seem open and helpful without communicating any actual information.

Here are some promising approaches:

1. The Franz Kafka Inscrutable Parable Approach: "One day, a mighty king woke up to find he had turned into a gigantic, slimy cockroach . . . "

2. The Diversionary Approach: "Honey, President Clinton had what we grown-ups call an 'affair,' and by the way, you are adopted. If there is any of this you would like to ask questions about, your father and I will be more than happy to answer."

3. The Elliptical Approach: "Sometimes, when a man and a woman love each other very, very, very much, the man is impeached by Congress."

4. The Outright Lie: "You may have noticed a great deal of news in the last few days. You may be wondering what it is all about. It is about extreme fluctuations in the stock market, which you wouldn't understand."

5. The Lullaby Approach: "Some very significant events have been transpiring that bear explanation and scrutiny, to wit, it is an artifact of the human reproductive experience that the Darwinian impulse to perpetuate the species is occasionally misdirected in ways that corrupt the common understanding of a normal . . . Tiffany? Good night, sweetie."

And finally:

6. The Misdirection Approach: "Honey, you need to know that President Clinton . . . Say, how about we go buy you a whole entire bucket of Beanie Babies?"

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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