On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

More a sexual farce than a political tragedy

The world's most powerful man,  we now realise, does not seem to  care that cigars are for blowing  and nothing else.

The blow-by-blow account in independent counsel Kenneth Starr's  report on Clinton's sexual encounters has, no
doubt, dealt a deadly  blow to Clinton's

That aside, his sexual encounters  with
intern Monica Lewinsky described in graphic detail in the report for the world
to see, put all  parents and serious
newspapers  around the world in

Malaysian newspapers, for example, have had to, well, skirt  around the issue. Serious newspapers are,
after all, for the family.  All the gory
details won't be appropriate for any newspaper in education (NIE)

So the only decent thing to do is  to leave
out those naughty bits.  That's certainly
fine with most  parents. All the
skirt-chasing and  voyeurism would just
have to be  read on the Internet.

But that leads to another problem. You think your kids are surfing the
Internet, trying to earn a  college
degree online, but they are  actually
looking up the 400 pages  of Clinton's
bizarre sexual acts  which certainly make
more interesting reading.

You are a liberal parent and you  think
that explaining safe sex to  your pimply
teenage kid is the best  thing. But hey,
the footnote in  Starr's report says
Clinton had  hundreds of sexual affairs
in the  early years of his

And before you can even explain  the
consequences of full-blown  HIV cases,
your kid will be interrupting you to ask `what is a blow  job.'

Next, you will be asked how Clinton could manage to talk on the  telephone to members of the Congress when you
would think his attention would be otherwise engaged.

Now, you know why you are  struggling
with your job while  Clinton still has
the Americans insisting he shouldn't be sacked despite his sexual sins.

Like any sex scandal in any part  of the
world, blowing to pieces  what has been
built politically over  the years, leads
to a certain degree  of disbelief among
the voters.

What we know about people in  high places
are the visual images  that come to our
living rooms  through the television and
in the  newspapers.

And we all tend to equate high  politics
with high standards because politicians all over the world  preach morality. They tell us that  whatever they do is for the people,  justice and good governance.

The followers sometimes get  carried
away, forgetting that politicians are also human beings.  Strip away the trappings of power  and the larger-than-life image created by the
spin doctors, and they  are just normal

There's always a dark side which  we
sometimes do not know. When  the
character flaws are  exposed,  there's the initial shock.

Starr's report looks like an improbable script with unconvincing  acting. It looks more like a sexual  farce rather than a political tragedy.

But take away the lurid details,  it's
simply a case of a politician  who has a
history of lying and getting away with it.

It's not a case of adultery or a  man who
cannot control his appetites but about perjury and obstruction of law. He has
denied  sexual harassment under

Clinton has, of course, said it's a 
right-wing conspiracy. His lawyers have used a string of legal  jargon to get him out.

But like someone who is armed  with a
blow-gun, Starr has finally  hit his

Like other politicians, Clinton  has his
followers and admirers. As  more details
are released, Clinton  has found himself

His followers, who had dedicated  their
lives to him, now feel betrayed. Clinton was a man who  could do no wrong, as far as they  were concerned.

This was, of course, the very  man who
said he did not “inhale''  but merely
“blew'' it, when asked  if he had smoked
grass in college.

Now, his lawyers are saying he  did not
lie, in the legal sense. Of  course, he
did not have any sexual  relations, if
you were to trust him.

The political weather at the  White House
certainly looks dark  and windy now. The
Clinton expose  comes just two years
after Dick  Morris, Clinton's image
consultant,  was dismissed because of his
affair with a prostitute, like something from the movie, Mars Attack.

Blown out of proportion by the  media,
Clinton has been reduced to  a sexually
compulsive liar who is  now begging for

Like the presidency, the once 
prestigious appointment of an internship to the White House has  now become a huge, salacious joke.

American parents may not be so  keen for
their kids to work in the  White House
anymore, what with  all the worrying they
have to do.  After all, other middle-aged
officials may be equally menacing.

Herein, lies a lesson for parents  from
the baby-boomers period.  Many
politicians, who grew up in  colleges
protesting against the establishment and singing Bob Dylan's Blowing in the Wind,
may not  necessarily hold the same
views  now.

It's like the wind that blows the 
lallang. For some politicians, their 
stand can swing from side to side, 
depending on the circumstances.

For these politicians, the lesson  is:
Don't blow your own trumpet  too much or
the fall from grace  can be very hard