The Secret Sex Addict Speech Dick Morris Offered Clinton

Like all addictions, impeachment has 12 steps toward emotional clarity. These were mine:

1. Is Hillary Depressed? Hillary Rodham Clinton is scheduled to speak to the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League on the 26th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It is at the same time that the question-and-answer phase of the impeachment trial is to begin in the Senate, and I choose Hillary. The First Lady wears a gray suit and is obviously depressed. She may as well be speaking to a funeral. Her voice is a monotone. She does not move her body at all for more than 30 minutes, merely moves her head in a practiced manner from one side of the audience to another. Dip to the lectern to get a line of text. Look up left. Look right. Open eyes to make some sort of connection. Dip back to lectern.

Her text is laced with bitterness about men. She speaks with anger of visiting pregnant girls who have been abandoned by the fathers, of the stories these young lied-to women told her about their men-“with a straight face,” she says cuttingly. If only boys and men would think about what they are doing before they had sex, Hillary says, then goes on to denounce the preoccupation with “sexual prowess” in the media and among sports figures. The speech seems somewhat castrating.

The 2,000 people in the audience, mostly women, absorb the depth of her feeling. The applause is subdued. No one calls out for her to run for Senate.

2. Z-z-z-z-z-z-z. Later, as I enter the Senate periodical gallery, the guard at the door takes my elbow. “Do me a favor, wake that guy up.” He points at a tall reporter in the second row. Not relishing the assignment, I say, “Is he asleep?” A second guard comes over to confer. “I don’t think he’s sleeping, I just saw his jaw move.”

I sit next to the reporter, who is in fact sound asleep, and pretend not to notice him as I watch the President’s private lawyer, David Kendall, speak, soporifically, on the floor. The guard must come down and, squeezing in front of a row of people to get to us, rouse the man. The reporter denies that he was asleep. They argue and the guard retreats. The reporter spends the next half-hour trying to win the argument retroactively by maintaining his sleepy posture even as he mocks attentiveness.

3. Oedipus at the Senate. Rumpled, cerebral, white-haired Senator Carl Levin of Michigan reminds me of my father, and I get into an argument with him during a little press conference he gives outside the Senate floor.

He says that the House managers have misrepresented Vernon Jordan’s motives for finding a job for Monica Lewinsky. He has uncovered a fact that contradicts one of their points.

I break in. “Let’s say you’re right. They got this point wrong. Still, what is a reasonable person supposed to conclude, that this was routine? How often have you called the chairman of General Motors?”

My Oedipal outburst frightens old Senator Levin. He raises his hand and becomes flustered, then goes on, ignoring me. Under his arm are stacks of photocopies of the critical documents. Pathetically, he hands them out to the reporters.

It is simply obvious that Vernon Jordan was putting out supreme effort for Monica Lewinsky. Ronald Perelman testified that in Mr. Jordan’s 12 years on Revlon Inc.’s board, he only called him once on behalf of a job candidate: a “terrific young girl,” Monica Lewinsky. Mr. Jordan’s call to Mr. Perelman came immediately after a five-minute conversation with Ms. Lewinsky, who called him from the residence of her mother’s then-fiancé in New York, at about the time that she was filing her false affidavit in the Paula Jones case.

After talking to Ron Perelman, Vernon Jordan called Monica Lewinsky back to tell her he had made the call. The next day, when she got the job, she called him and spent seven minutes on the phone with him, celebrating her success, then an hour later he called her and they had a three-minute conversation in which he says he urged her to accept that $40,000 was good pay.

It is one of the great wastes of this process: critical minds like Charles Schumer’s and Carl Levin’s turned by the Clinton defense into bales of hay.

4. Going Mad With Lindsey Graham. I walk out of the Capitol with Lindsey Graham, the Republican House manager. A small man from a rural district of South Carolina who wears Brooks Brothers ties, he is the Frank Capra figure in the drama, soulful, emotional, sincere. People swarm around him, even Democrats, to urge him on or to fence with him. Representative Graham has a pastoral air. He talks about “the sins you carry and the sins I carry.” He offers moral instruction.

“Listen up now. Listen to what I’m trying to say,” he says, putting his foot up on a marble sill. “Our President engaged in serious criminal wrongdoing. And to doubt that that occurred is devastating to the people of the country.”

I walk to the Longworth Building with Mr. Graham. I say, “I told a friend how disturbed I am about the fact that Clinton called Monica Lewinsky a ‘stalker,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s the right wing’s ace in the hole.’ And I was shocked by that. I don’t understand why it isn’t a liberal’s ace in the hole.”

“Yeah, he turned on a consensual lover,” Mr. Graham says, shaking his head. “It was the meanest thing he did.”

Lindsay Graham and I have become maddened.

5. Girl Talk With My Mother-in-Law. My in-laws have tickets to see the impeachment, and that night I meet them back at the hotel. My father-in-law is lying on the bed, my mother-in-law is watching the news. My in-laws are unimpressed by the Senate décor. My mother-in-law says it reminds her of just another men’s club.

I tell her my sense that Hillary is depressed. “Did you notice at the State of the Union that Hillary didn’t have her hair done?” she says. “It was odd to me that for a big night like that, she wouldn’t have put herself together. I agree with you.”

We go out to dinner and get back to the hotel at 10. On C-Span 2, Hillary is giving her speech again, and I call down to my in-laws’ room. The camera picks up stuff I hadn’t seen in the hall. When Hillary is finished, she turns from the microphone and gives a big short sigh before embracing Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. “Kate, I put your glasses there,” Hillary says, motioning at a shelf on the lectern, and saying that, she opens her mouth with joy. It is her only gesture of pure pleasure.

I wonder whether maybe Hillary has hit bottom. That she is doing a spiritual inventory of all the lies, not so different from Lindsey Graham’s spiritual inventory.

6. I Wake Up in Anger. In the morning, I compose a mental list of the issues that have maddened me, thinking to reel them off to my mother-in-law, a liberal:

· Why, in the Nixon era, it was a glory to be on his “enemies list.” While to be against Bill Clinton is to be classed a “hater” and vilified in polite society;

· Why it was a heroic thing that the law firm Williams & Connolly and The Washington Post teamed up on Watergate, but that when conservative newspaperman Richard Mellon Scaife underwrites investigations of a President he doesn’t like, it’s a conspiracy;

· Why right-wing reporter Christopher Ruddy can be harassed by the Internal Revenue Service under Mr. Clinton and no one but The Wall Street Journal even notices;

· Why the passive media treat the 900 F.B.I. files as a joke-accepting Mr. Clinton’s “bureaucratic snafu” explanation-even as Linda Tripp testifies that some of the files were apparently used against the fired Travel Office employees in 1993, and Dick Morris testifies that they are evidence of a paranoid style in the White House, statements that go wholly unexamined in the press;

· How it is that a House committee report accused Cheryl Mills, the White House deputy counsel, of perjury for false statements to the committee about the White House database of contributors, and in questioning Ms. Mills last summer, Mr. Starr’s deputies all but suggested she had lied to them about when she first learned about the Lewinsky situation, from her close friend Vernon Jordan, yet these issues are only raised by The Washington Times , while Newsweek celebrates Ms. Mills as a “rising star.”

· How it came to pass that, following signs of discomfort on the Upper West Side over its harsh stance on the President, the New York Times editorial page takes a sudden, Pravda -ish turn to the conventional liberal position at the end of 1998, which Sam Donaldson finds a source of amusement on This Week , but which goes wholly unexamined in intellectual circles;

· Why The Times devotes such investigative resources to the continuing examination of how the Paula Jones suit flourished, secretly, in a cabal of conservative lawyers, while failing to describe to its readers evidence contained in the Starr files of potential criminal matters, for instance, White House deputy assistant Marsha Scott’s patent lies to the grand jury about the Administration’s treatment of Webster Hubbell; the numerous discrepancies between Vernon Jordan’s sworn testimony and Monica Lewinsky’s (we breakfasted at the Park Hyatt, she says; we never breakfasted, said he; the breakfast turns up on his American Express bill); or the release to the media of Linda Tripp’s Pentagon file, matters that are only taken up in The American Spectator and other journals.

I go down to breakfast at the hotel and decide not to go into it. We talk about Hillary’s speech. My mother-in-law says, “Did you notice the sigh that Hillary gave when she turned away from the microphone? It was as if she was saying, ‘Ahhh, that’s over with.'”

7. I Discover Lindsay Graham’s a Lefty. On Saturday, Jan. 23, the House managers fly Ms. Lewinsky in from Los Angeles, and no one is sleeping in the periodical gallery. No, it is all but empty as Henry Hyde rises to warn the Democrats, “There are issues of transcendent importance that you have to be willing to lose your office over.”

One of Henry Hyde’s principles is equal justice under the law, but another is abortion. This is the problem with the radical Republicans’ martyrology, it seems so off the rails. Yes, they have taken a moral stand, but they are a group of white men associated with a moral cause, abortion, that seems to the great majority of Americans so morally ambiguous that it must be resolved in favor of a woman’s right to privacy, sexual and medical. Have the privacy issues of the Clinton case escaped them?

I lean over the sill to look down at the black, Nike-swoosh-shaped managers’ table and notice Lindsey Graham’s curious way of taking notes. He is a left-hander, and turns his cheap legal pad so that the long side is parallel to his chest, then writes in a vertical line going toward his chest, like Chinese characters. What an iconoclast.

Mr. Graham rises to make the wisest statement the House managers have made: that if he were a Senator, he would have to get down on his knees before deciding that these crimes are high crimes.

8. Pity the House Managers . For days after, poor Mr. Graham is defensive about his comments. The House managers now occupy a free-floating zone of acrid political death. They know it but are still in denial. Few reporters come to stake them out. The marble halls feel like a sarcophagus in which they are slowly dying, becoming martyr statues. In the midst of interviews, they suddenly look at you and say, blankly, “How did we do today?” with the drained foxhole look of death about them. I try to give them chipper answers, because their arguments on the facts of the case are wholly convincing to me, and reasonable-also because I pity them, remembering that their task appeared more innocent and adventurous when they took it on, like joining Shackleton’s trip to Antarctica.

9. I Become Bill Buckley. Watching 96-year-old Strom Thurmond creak into the Senate one morning, I find him, for the first time in my life, a source of inspiration rather than hatred, and when I get back to New York I realize that I am no longer young, I am now aging. So far, I have been climbing the hill of life; now, I am going down the hill. My wife comes home for dinner and I tell her this. She agrees.

We drink a lot of wine over dinner, then I stand on several volumes of the Starr documents like a soapbox, telling her some of the intellectual dishonesties that madden me. Have I lost my mind? I say. My wife says not. But she wonders whether I am more like Norman Podhoretz than William Buckley, in this sense: that when Norman Podhoretz underwent his middle-aged break over political-intellectual matters, she says, he was no longer able to take meals with his old friends, the feelings were simply too strong, the loss of respect. Whereas merry WASPy Mr. Buckley breaks bread happily with his enemies, so separated is he from his emotional life. Are you a Buckley or a Podhoretz?

10. Betting Against Clinton Is a Sucker’s Game. I meet my friend John, who thinks I’m a nut, at a party and in a demonstration of honor say I owe him $50. Why, he says. He has forgotten that a year ago, in a hut in the Adirondacks, he gave me 3-to-1 odds that Mr. Clinton would still be in office a year hence. My wife’s boss is nowhere so genteel. On her return following New Year’s holiday, he came to her, palm out, demanding his $200 on a similar bet for 1998. Then he says he will take her side of the bet: Mr. Clinton will be gone before 1999 is through. But you have to stake $1,000. My wife loses her nerve.

11. Dick Morris’ Amazing Advice. I feel desperation at the idea that it is going to be over and stay up till 1 A.M. reading the Starr papers, the Dick Morris section, where he describes his belief that “secret police” at the White House leaked confidential information to the National Enquirer about matters he had confessed about his sex life to an Administration official when he was hired at the White House years before.

A year ago, at the President’s urging, Mr. Morris did his famous poll about America’s attitudes, using a Melbourne, Fla., research firm. To keep it secret, he asked the firm not even to print out the findings, and he swallowed the $2,000 cost. In the poll, Mr. Morris, who had told Mr. Clinton that they were both sex addicts, composed a speech the President could give to save himself. Here it is:

“For many, many years I have been personally flawed and have had sexual relations outside of my marriage. This has caused Hillary great pain and I have tried and tried to curb my behavior as I saw the pain it caused her. After I became President, I was determined to mend my ways. For the most part, I did, but sometimes I fell short and gave into temptation. I did, in fact, have sexual relations with a 23-year-old woman named Monica Lewinsky while I’ve been President. I regret my behavior more than I can say. I apologize for it. I take responsibility for it. I wish I were a better man and better able to cope with the pressures of life and work, and I am going to redouble my efforts to walk a straight line. When the allegations first surfaced, I did, indeed, lie about them and urge Monica to lie. I was wrong and I am sorry for it. I am especially sorry for the pain I have caused my wife and daughter. If the American people want me to step down as President, I will do so. With a heavy heart, but I will do so. If they can forgive me and want me to continue to lead our great nation, I’ll do that, too. I’ve tried to be a good President and I think I’ve succeeded. I’ve tried to be a good husband, and I’m afraid I’ve sometimes failed. As President, as a repentant sinner and as a Christian, I ask your forgiveness, God’s forgiveness and my wife and daughter’s forgiveness. My future is in your hands, my fellow Americans.”

Dick Morris’ notes indicate that 47 percent of respondents said that if the President gave that speech, they would want him out of office, while 43 percent said they would want him to stay. Mr. Morris called Bill Clinton with the results, then read the President his imagined speech. “I was sort of waiting for him to interrupt me and say, ‘But that isn’t true,’ or ‘That goes too far,’ or something like that, and he was silent throughout the whole thing,” Mr. Morris said.

12. The Shape of Things to Come. Eve MacSweeney, an editor at Harper’s Bazaar , sends me an e-mail that says, “couldn’t e you back from england as friend in hospital and everything went pear-shaped.” I call to ask about the phrase. She tells me that “pear-shaped” is the reigning metaphor in England now. Things are going pear-shaped. They say it in the financial district when a stock goes bad. They say it in W11 about a marriage. Ms. MacSweeney says the term resonates because English women are frequently referred to as being pear-shaped, the men in England being buttless, but she and I agree that when the phrase gets here-the land of the aging, big-butted male-it will have wider resonance.

I think of when that other Anglicism, “at the end of the day,” came here a few years ago, landing in New York. The House managers use the phrase “at the end of the day” over and over again, summing up their case on the Senate floor. Now we know what the end of the day looks like.