Roger L. Simon

Bill Clinton's Sad, Surreal Speech

How many times had Bill Clinton cheated on his wife? That was the question I was asking myself as I listened to his hagiographic speech about Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night. 50? 100? More? And with how many different women?

I tried to recall the ones I knew about — Gennifer Flowers, Dolly Kyle, Juanita Broaddrick, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Kathleen Willey… I knew of several others via rumor, a couple of whom I was relatively sure were true. There must have been more. Five other names are mentioned in a special Wikipedia entry on the subject.

That was the elephant in the room on Tuesday night that was being ignored, as far as I could tell, by the Democratic faithful. It was not the GOP elephant, but a much bigger one, first spoken when Moses came down from Sinai millennia ago to impart the news that thou shalt not commit adultery. Had it become passé, disappeared forever in the maw of our trendy culture, a mere joke?

I thought of Anna Karenina, Tolstoy’s masterpiece on the subject, and practically everything else, that I had been reading lately. It doesn’t end well, the adultery part.

But there was Bill, putting his best face on it, trying to get his wife elected president of the United States by painting this romantic picture of their first encounter, as if it were a Hollywood “cute meet” out of Bringing Up Baby, the couple set to live happily ever after, when we all know their marriage quickly evolved into a kind of cold-blooded business partnership, if it was ever much of a marriage in the first place.

Who could forget the posed scenes of the supposedly content Clintons dancing on the beach in the Caribbean, meant to signal the Monica affair was over? It could only be seen by telephoto lens, no facial expressions visible.

And now this speech. How could the entire enterprise not be depressing? At least it was to me, although apparently not to the loyal Democrats at the convention who clapped and clapped for this strange performance.

But I wonder. Surely they must know this marriage is a sham, those over thirty anyway. Are Bill’s serial and compulsive adulteries just part of his charm? It can’t be that I was the only one thinking about this. I bet almost everyone was, trying to make peace with it on some level.

When the camera turned on Chelsea Clinton and husband Marc Mezvinsky, whose father was convicted on 31 felony counts, they didn’t always seem pleased to be there. Marc looked momentarily glum. Chelsea, who seems to have adopted the family trait of grin and bear it, was pushing out a wan smile.

I again thought of Anna Karenina and its most famous line: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

The Clintons were certainly unique in their unhappiness, though they had a successful lust for power of Medici proportions to assuage it, to hold them together.

In a way they are emblematic of the Democratic convention and the entire Democratic Party that they have dominated for so many years. Power is what is most important.  Everything else diminishes by comparison. It wasn’t always that way, perhaps, but it is now.

In the face of this power grab, the real problems of the world drop away. They did in Bill’s speech, too. No mention of the epidemic of cop murders. Nothing on ISIS, although only the day before, their members had marched into a French church and cut the throat of its priest in perhaps their most horrific event yet on European soil. You would think an ex-president would say something.

Bill didn’t dare mention it. To do so might remind the world of the incompetence of his wife, whose tenure as secretary of State did little to stop this and much to encourage it. One of the most disgusting examples had been her demurral about branding Boko Haram as a terror organization. How’s that as an accomplishment in winning the war on women?

We needn’t reprise her telling the Benghazi parents at their sons’ funeral that the cause of their deaths was a video. The moral compass would start spinning off its axis. But no matter. Bill certainly didn’t. Congrats to him. He’s still doing well after his heart attack, despite a few setbacks. He’s a great American. Just don’t tell your children his true story — unless you think those Ten Commandments aren’t worth the crumbling old tablets they’re carved on.

Roger L. Simon is a prize-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media.  His book—I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already—is just published by Encounter.  You can read an excerpt here. You can see a brief interview about the book with the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal here. You can hear an interview about the book with Mark Levin here. You can order the book here.