Altoids, Oral Sex and the Presidency

Altoidsgate: Will the latest Clinton debacle bring the White House to its knees?

Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky at the White House. Getty Images

September 14, 1998

From the Office of the Independent Counsel last week came 445 pages of a peculiarly American form of entertainment: the details of William J. Clinton's sex life. Early reviews made Kenneth Starr's long-awaited tome seem promising.

"Dirt and filth," raved Rep. Charles Rangel (Democrat, New York), "a nickel-and-dime lurid sex story."

"There is a pornographic value to this," enthused Sen.

Bob Kerrey of Nebraska.

"Resembles a steamy paperback," declared the Washington Post.

Unfortunately, the Starr report fails to live up to its notices, offering precious little of what the American people really want from these proceedings, namely hot sex tips from the highest office in the land. One wades through endless volumes of kiss-and-tell testimony to learn little more than that the President's lovemaking philosophy can be summed up in the words, "'Tis better to receive than to give."

Starr-crossed lovers

Most disappointing of all, a portion of the report devoted to White House intern Monica Lewinsky's account of the affair reveals that our Starr-crossed lovers came to the very brink of authenticating a notorious urban legend touting the benefits of a certain "curiously strong" breath mint during oral sex, then dropped the ball.

We can't blame Lewinsky, whose testimony proves she was ever ready to take the bit between her teeth.

On this occasion it was Clinton who blew it.

From the Starr report on events allegedly occurring Nov. 13, 1997:

The President finally joined Ms. Lewinsky in the study, where they were alone for only a minute or two.(708) Ms. Lewinsky gave him an antique paperweight in the shape of the White House.(709) She also showed him an email describing the effect of chewing Altoid mints before performing oral sex. Ms. Lewinsky was chewing Altoids at the time, but the President replied that he did not have enough time for oral sex.(710) They kissed, and the President rushed off for a State Dinner with President Zedillo.(711)

Fickle priorities

We cannot but wonder at the President's fickle sense of priorities. No time for oral sex? Further testimony shows that on many other occasions Mr. Clinton was prepared to drop his pants at a moment's notice.

Nor could he have failed to recognize the import of the experiment Lewinsky was proposing, as detailed in the print-out she handed him.

Whether it's an impeachable offense I don't know, but Clinton's refusal to put this folk belief to the test when he had a clear and present opportunity to do so compounds the evidence that he does not always have the best interests of the American people at heart. Once again, he has failed to provide the leadership this country needs and wants — a sad commentary on the current state of the presidency, and of the nation.

Where's JFK when you need him?

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