- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Why did Bill Clinton decide to address the delegates of the Democratic National Convention last night and make an early, practically graceful exit from Los Angeles today? Could it be that he wished to provide his loyal vice president with an unobstructed shot at the political limelight? Remove his own shadow from the stage where Mr. Gore will be assuming leadership of the Democratic Party?

Hardly. "The reason I was able to sell him on Monday was the Titans-Rams game," Edward G. Rendell, general chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told the New York Times. Titans-Rams game? Mr. Rendell explained that what convinced Mr. Clinton not to hang around into the week was Mr. Rendell's argument that the president would be an even bigger sensation if he took the Monday night slot immediately following what was guaranteed to be a highly rated televised football game. "I said, 'Look, we've got to get the maximum audience because there's nobody alive who can better explain why Al Gore should be president than you,' " said Mr. Rendell. Far be it for Al Gore to make the case.

The only reason Mr. Rendell's anecdote isn't the perfect distillation of the It's-Still-About-Bill Clinton personality, which only strengthens as the presidential days dwindle, is that there are so many equally perfect ones. For example, take the latest gag video starring Mr. Clinton and his Hollywood pals. Its weekend screening at a Hollywood fund-raiser nixed by "the White House" (Al Gore? Karenna Gore Schiff? Naomi Wolf maybe?), this new video, according to Daily Variety, depicts jokey job opportunities for Mr. Clinton all over tinsel town, from producers Sherry Lansing and Leslie Moonves, to the presumably more proletarian likes of Sven the pool man at the Beverly Hills Hotel. What was it George W. Bush said about restoring dignity to the presidency? Mr. Clinton's last act is enough to turn a Bald Eagle into a Lounge Lizard.

Of course, Mr. Clinton's brand of show biz has never been limited to Hollywood appearances. Indeed, Mr. Clinton gave an Oprah-quality, if not Oscar-quality, performance last week for several thousand evangelicals during a purgative pit stop en route to Los Angeles. The idea behind this quickie confessional seems to have been the political equivalent of eating presidential spinach. Mr. Clinton swallowed hard and reminded the world not to blame Al Gore "for the mistakes I've made" a one-size-fits-all apology for everything from Monica to Lewinsky, including perjury and obstruction of justice.

"So I wake up every day," Mr. Clinton continued, "with this overwhelming sense of gratitude, because it may be that if I hadn't been knocked down in the way I was and forced to come to grips with what I'd done and the consequences of it, in such an awful way, I might never have had to really deal with it 100 percent."

Whatever. The point seems to be that Mr. Clinton is a bigger, better person for his lechery and lies as experienced by Monica Lewinsky, as told to Linda Tripp, as unraveled by Kenneth Starr, as discerned by Judge Susan Webber Wright, and, finally, as comprehended by a shocked, then numbed American people. But thanks be, hosannas and three cheers: Mr. Clinton says he's "much more at peace than he used to be." And that, after all, is what counts.

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