- The Washington Times - Friday, June 2, 2000

Regarding the Boy President's impending trip to Moscow, I wonder if President Vladimir Putin intends to set him up with a nice, plump Russian girl during his visit to the Brothers Karamazov's old stomping grounds. Perhaps a pretty young Cossack would divert him from the blues he must feel when he contemplates his dubious future and his barren legacy.

This would not be the first time that the Russian government saw to the romantic needs of a lonely American abroad. Remember some years back that unhappy Marine guard at our Moscow embassy? His social needs were very tenderly cared for by a pretty young thing supplied by Soviet intelligence.

Mr. Putin's intelligence background might make him an ideal host for our amorous president. Of course, Moscow's services as matchmaker to Americans on foreign soil always come at a cost. No Russian cutie is ever sent into the arms of a lonely American without the expectation she will return to headquarters, her ears ringing with American national security secrets.

Here I think President Putin is likely to be disappointed. Admittedly, President Clinton is a vault of government information. In fact, he is the most knowledgeable policy-wonk president since Jimmy Carter. But the facts and figures he is likely to betray to Russian ears will more likely have to do with federal price controls on some obscure medication or the cost per unit of federal housing in Bismarck, N.D.

A conspicuous ellipsis in the Clinton administration's seven-year record is in the area of national security. If Mr. Clinton has any interest in or knowledge of national security, he has yet to reveal it. The Russians have a venerable record of attaching their nubile ladies to visiting Americans.

Unfortunately, during the Cold War, if the Russian girls were not spies they were often nuts. I remember a graduate school friend of mine who returned from study in Moscow in the 1970s with a terrific blonde. She was the daughter of a KGB officer. Alas, she suffered so many mental disorders it would have taken an entire hospital to treat her. That was one way for the Soviets to keep mental health costs down.

If President Putin fixes our playboy president up with a Russian nut case, there will be justice to it, both poetic and historic. After all, back in the early 1940s we afflicted the Soviet intelligence network in Washington with one of the greatest female nut case problems it ever faced, Helen Bentley.

Historians will remember Miss Bentley as an American communist who spied for Moscow and eventually became an FBI informer. Her revelations about Soviet espionage in America and American nationals spying for Moscow were devastating to Soviet intelligence. What is more, they clearly established that the United States had serious security risks within its government. Some Americans claimed she caused an unwarranted Red Scare leading to McCarthyism.

Today a growing mound of scholarship compiled by both American and Russian historians shows her revelations were genuine. The scholarship also reveals Miss Bentley to have been a ditz of Lewinskyesque Monica Lewinskyesque proportions. Miss Bentley's antics are chronicled most memorably in "The Haunted Wood" by Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev. There you will see that she was not so much an FBI informer driven by patriotism as a love-starved sex maniac.

For her Soviet handlers, she became a pain in the neck and one of the great comedies of the Cold War. Episodically and melodramatically she would be a pioneering soldier of World Revolution, a tireless Soviet spook (winner of the Order of the Red Star) and a pro-American, anti-Soviet stalwart of the Communist Party of the U.S.A. all according to her flighty moods and the condition of her love life.

When she was without a boyfriend, her handlers worried. When she got it into her head to marry one of them, they worried all the more. Two Soviet station chiefs in Washington asked the NKVD, the KGB's predecessor, to recruit a proper husband for her one who could keep up with her in the bars and the bed. None was willing, and when the NKVD sought an assassin for her he fled to Paris.

Eventually she was seduced by a brave FBI agent. Thence she became a patriot and informer.

In all her dispendious passions and rages she puts one in mind of the fair Monica. Monica's pursuit of love and an older man could neither be controlled by the Secret Service nor the FBI. She penetrated the White House and held the president's staff in terror. When she finally blabbed, the details she revealed were not much more intimate than those revealed by Miss Bentley.

The crafty Mr. Putin is doubtless aware of both gals. He knows the Boy President's tastes and the power of a certain kind of American woman.

If a similar type of Russian lady can be found while the president is in Moscow, the Pentagon's very important missile defense plans might be negotiated away. Not everything this American president does is a joke.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the editor in chief of the American Spectator.

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