Noe Valley Voice March 1999

Florence's Family Album: A Little Bad in the Best of Us

By Florence Holub

The impeachment trial is over, they say. President Clinton will remain in office. And as I write this (in early February 1999), I know that most people are tired of the subject and ready to put it to bed.

But in my 80 years on this planet, rarely have I been so disgusted by the machinations of our political leaders.

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since the world was stirred into a media frenzy by the shocking developments in our nation's capital.

In the early days of the scandal -- was it January 1998? -- we were bombarded by Monica revelations and immediate calls for Clinton's resignation. When the president was forced to confess his private affairs on television, my heart went out to him and his family. No one should be subjected to that kind of abusive treatment!

At one point, I was reduced to such despair that putting on a happy face was impossible, even in carefree Noe Valley.

Fortunately for me, the Noe Valley Voice April Fool's issue came out just in time (remember the story "Ants Want a Piece of Pie"?), and it was only by reading and rereading it throughout the spring and summer that I could raise my flagging spirits.

As the impeachment plot thickened in the fall, my man Leo and I sat glued to the television set, watching the House Judiciary Committee hearings, shown in their entirety on C-SPAN.

We realized that a dangerous threat to the government's balance of powers was looming before our eyes. Since the Supreme Court was largely Republican appointed -- and the Senate and House of Representatives each had G.O.P. majorities -- the Republicans were in a position to pounce on any Democratic weaknesses. And now, by clinging to the "rule of law," they appeared determined to capture the presidency!

When the trial moved to the Senate, we again observed the House Managers trampling upon the wishes of the people and parroting the "facts" brought forth by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.

To Leo and me, everyone seemed to have forgotten the big picture: After four years of investigating the president, Starr had found only one private act to use as evidence against Clinton. And this sexual indiscretion, though unwise, hardly rose to the level of an impeachable offense.

Still, the Republicans were bent
on dragging us through the mud. Inevitably, the hearings became boring, repetitive, and hard to take. So to fill the time, I sketched the faces of the most offensive windbags, lest I forget who they were.

As I am putting the finishing touches on those drawings, the Senate is nearing a vote, and I assume that Clinton will survive intact and serve out the remainder of his term. How he has managed to fulfill his duties through this ordeal is beyond me. It illustrates enormous strength under duress.

But what of Monica Lewinsky? Undoubtedly the poor girl will be assessed, distressed, analyzed, criticized, and pursued into perpetuity by the paparazzi. Like Clinton, she may defend herself by resorting to hairsplitting. (With her abundant tresses, she could keep them at bay forever!)

When I was young, it was considered uncouth to talk about subjects of an intimate nature, but times have changed. A few years ago, I was outraged when a female writer phoned, asking to interview me concerning the sexual activities of seniors. I confess that I was neither polite nor cooperative when I responded that I did not discuss intimate matters, nor did I care to hear about the exploits of others. When I told Leo about the woman's request, he saw it as an opportunity for hilarity and suggested that I reply by claiming hundreds of amorous affairs. But I didn't think the idea was funny. Sex is not something to flaunt, even fallaciously.

So when the Starr Report was released, I decided not to read it. However, I must admit that I was secretly pleased that Hustler publisher Larry Flynt exposed the adulterous past of several members of the Republican inquisition. He demonstrated the hypocrisy of the accusing body by tossing out a little dirt of his own.

Which brings to mind the old phrase: "There's a little good in the worst of us [Larry], and a little bad in the best of us [Bill]." Yes, that phrase is an apt description for our hardworking president, William Jefferson Clinton.

It also reminds me of a day at Bell Market early last year, when I stood looking at the cover of one of those scandal sheets. The magazine showed the president with a big black eye. It implied that the shiner had been delivered by wife Hillary. I said to the man standing in line next to me, "He deserved it!"

Then I added, "But I still like him."

The man nodded his head in vigorous agreement.