A bridge to the 21st birthday

March 19, 1997|By E.J. Montini

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Memo to President William Jefferson Clinton, The White House, Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

It's time to stop lying to the American people.

I'm sorry, but there's no polite way to say this. You've won a second term. You've been sworn in. You've got the job. There's no reason to continue the charade. Even those of us who ain't from Arkansas can tell the difference between Jack Daniels and moonshine.

You should stand up and tell your fellow Americans exactly why you wanted to become president. I know for a fact it had nothing to do with balancing the federal budget, saving Medicare and Social Security, revitalizing the nation's education system or having a helicopter available at the back door anytime you want.

OK, maybe the helicopter thing, a little.

The real reason

But, the real reason you wanted to be president -- and to remain president for two terms -- can be explained in one word:

Chelsea.

I'm not speculating, here. I know. In 1992, your daughter was 12 years old. She was a little awkward, but she was smart and about to become a tall, lovely teen-age girl.

And you're a dad. You knew that, if you became president, your family would receive round-the-clock Secret Service protection. You knew that every single time your daughter went to school, or to a movie, or to a party, she would be accompanied by a squad of young, strong, completely dedicated federal agents -- with guns.

A likely scenario

Just imagine it.

''Dad,'' Chelsea says, ''can I go on a date tonight?''

''With whom, darlin'?''

''Sheik.''

''Sheik? Does he go to your high school?''

''No, he's a drop-out.''

''How old is he?''

''Thirty, maybe.''

''No kidding. Where's he live?''

''In his van, I think.''

''Really? Is Sheik his real name?''

''It's what the other guys in his gang call him.''

''Where would you go?''

''To a tattoo parlor and body-piercing salon.''

''Near here?''

''Actually, it's in New York. Can I go?''

You don't even hesitate.

''Sure!'' you say. ''Have fun.''

It's the dream of every American father.

Your child is growing up, meeting new people, seeing new things, taking her first tentative steps in the deep, dark pool of independence -- accompanied every step of the way by Big Al, Bulls-Eye Eric and Unsmiling Frank.

What dad wouldn't endure a Whitewater investigation for that kind of peace of mind?

Who wouldn't put up with a federal inquiry into campaign fund-raising in order to have young men in suits spring out of their seats like multiple Jackie Chans whenever a young suitor attempted to put his arm around your girl?

Who wouldn't be willing to tackle war in Bosnia, inner-city crime and international terrorism for the kind of full-authority-of-the-U.S.-government background checks you receive on every hormonally imbalanced Marilyn Manson fan asking your beloved offspring to, you know, like, go out, or, whatever?

''Can I stay out all night?''

''No problem!''

Be honest, Mr. President, the actual theme of your last presidential campaign should have been ''building a bridge to the 21st birthday.''

I say this not out of disrespect, sir, but out of envy.

I say this as a guy with a tall, smart, lovely 14-year-old daughter of his own. A guy who didn't have the foresight, when his child was born, to get into politics. A father who, unlike you, doesn't have the resources and safeguarding expertise of U.S. Secret Service at his disposal, and instead must rely upon the next best thing: Italian relatives.

E.J. Montini is a columnist for the Arizona Republic.

Pub Date: 3/19/97

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