Enough, says one woman, crossing President Clinton off her list

January 27, 1998|By SUSAN REIMER

MY LOVE AFFAIR with Bill Clinton is over.

I know all of you were waiting to hear from the president on this, but since he appears to have trouble saying what he means and meaning what he says, I have decided to come forward and state for the record that my relationship with Bill Clinton, begun in 1992, is over.

I now believe that his cheating did not end when I elected him president -- I and the rest of the 8 percent plurality of women voters who put him over the top in 1992.

I and the rest of the female electorate that chose to ignore his marital history because we believed he believed government should do more to help people.

I and the rest of the soccer moms who re-elected him in 1996, believing he'd sworn off the bimbos since becoming president.

I and the rest of the voters who believed he was showing his true character in his good works.

Now I am convinced that President Clinton toyed with an emotional, if not chronological, child in the White House, the family home, and I do not accept his "Who are you going to believe? Me or your lyin' eyes?" defense.

The suggestion that he told this young woman to lie is immaterial to me. That she should never say anything about such an affair would have been understood, even by a 21-year-old with eyes wide shut and a monster crush. That she could not have kept such a secret should have been understood by him.

But even if it had never come to light, a relationship like the one he is supposed to have had with Monica Lewinsky would still be foolish and hurtful and wrong.

Wrong, because Lewinsky apparently believed he cared for her. Wrong, because Hillary and Chelsea certainly believed he cared for them. Wrong, because we believed he cared for the presidency.

Hillary and Chelsea may forgive him. The country may forgive him.

But I will not.

There are too many details. Too much frank discussion about sexual practices. Too much parsing of the word "relationship." I feel as if I am at a traveling salesmen's convention: If you don't kiss, it isn't cheating.

There has been too much about subpoenas for dresses and whether they have been dry-cleaned of incriminating stains. Too much about phone sex. I am no preacher's daughter, but my threshold has been reached. This is more than I can bear to hear.

And like a woman betrayed, I am rocketing between cynicism and shame with each new tawdry detail.

So much for dancing with your wife on the beach. Don't try that at home. She'll never buy it now.

So much for buying books of erotic poetry for your lovers, fellas. Duck, because she will throw it at you now.

And guys, if your definition of a "relationship" has to do with the kind of sex you are having, you better hope she never finds that out.

Suddenly, women everywhere are turning to their mates and asking, "Honey, how do you define 'cheating'?"

I fell hard for Bill Clinton, and I am ashamed of myself now.

I chose to ignore facts of his domestic life that would have caused a divorce in my house. I believed he had an affair with Gennifer Flowers and then semi-lied about it when reporters failed to ask the question in just the right way.

But when I posted his social agenda against that of the Republicans, I felt I had little choice. Besides, his wife forgave him, and that was good enough for me. She said she understood who he was and she honored what they had been through together.

I believed they were doing what I hoped I would have the courage to do: battle through the tough times of marriage, determined not to walk away when love flagged because of the suffering it would inflict on an innocent child who loved them both.

I don't know about Hillary, but this time I am walking away. Should Clinton resign? No.

It may be he is so crippled as a political leader that he will have to do so. But right now I want a little presidential stability, not some kind of phony, stoic resignation. I am sick to death of heartfelt rhetoric from this man. I am sick of empathy and sympathy and earnestness and dialogues and answers that answer nothing and truth that is not quite true. It's time to just shut up and do your job.

I remember what Hillary said exactly six years ago in the post-Super Bowl interview with "60 Minutes." She seemed so brave and spunky as her husband denied his relationship with Gennifer Flowers and she added this postscript: "If that's not good enough for people, then, heck, don't vote for him."

It is a good thing I don't have to vote for Bill Clinton now. Because I would not.

Pub Date: 1/27/98

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