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Of New Park Land and Fellatio

By Will Baker

As far as presidencies are concerned, I believe that the past eight years have represented a rather extraordinary one. Therefore, since the curtain is poised to close on this phase of Bill Clinton’s political career, I thought that I might pen a few lines.

It seems to me that William Jefferson Clinton arrived in Washington with high hopes and a great deal of energy. He was far from being an old style Democrat. But he did posses a yearning to "do the right thing"--at least according to his perceptions of what that exactly was. And say what you will about him, but the man possesses keen intelligence and an above average ability to communicate. And his demonstrated ability to survive politically sets him apart from every other politician that I have yet to observe.

Be it the lethargic and debt ridden economy that his predecessors saddled him with, the Gays in the Military controversy that his administration bumbled into almost out of the gate, the Wako tragedy, his wife’s sound defeat over national health care at the hands of the republicans, Travel Gate, White Water, the Contract on America, the unprecedented difficulty that he had with many of his administrative and court appointments, the Monica Lewinsky affair, or the failure of Al Gore to secure his legacy, one thing was always a constant: the man entertained us. He made us smile and he kept smiling himself.

And while he was frantically attempting to cobble together a legacy by securing a lasting peace in the Middle East before leaving office, he did something that amazed and pleased me very much. Last week, without much hoopla or press for that matter, he quietly designated tens of millions of acres of wilderness lands as newly protected by the federal government. And after the current timber and mining contracts expire, these lands will be forever protected.

It seems that the safeguarding of the land in question, mostly in the western part of the country, will become his true legacy. It is true that some lawmakers in Alaska and Wyoming have been carping about this action, similar to the manner of tone and things that were said by the adversaries of Theodore Roosevelt when he took similar action in his day. Yet I believe that this might be the most significant accomplishment of his presidency, and say what you will about him, but the man has accomplished quite a bit. One needs only to look at the manner in which the economy has performed during his tenure in office to understand the truth in this statement.

So he has entertained us well. And it is clear from observing him that, for the most part; the man has been enjoying himself. But during his darkest hours in office, I have no doubt that he suffered, and suffered more perhaps due to his realization that some of those destructive experiences were self-imposed. And I am quite certain that on some level he feels that he has squandered a great political opportunity. For when he won reelection, the economy was secure, his adversaries were on the defensive and he was poised to champion his political agenda. But then his human frailty got in the way. And lest we feel the urge to look down our noses at the man, let’s take a moment to call to mind our own dark secrets…hmmm, not too pretty, are they.

So thanks for the memories Mr. President. Thanks for the laughter and the tears. Thanks for playing rock and roll in the White House and wearing blue jeans on Air Force One. Thanks for pissing off some people that needed it and thanks for being one of us. And hey, on behalf of my great, great grandchildren, thank you very much for the new parkland.

 

 

 (Essay Collection)