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Being Bill Clinton

Eight Views of the 42nd President

Posted 1/17/2001

Sweet Little Lies

It May Be Necessary to Destroy the Democratic Party in Order to Save It

Brother Bill

The Hustler

Queer as Votes

Role Over

Oh Danny Boy

10 Years After, or A Tale of Two Ex-Presidencies

As William Jefferson Clinton prepares to leave the White House on Jan. 20--a move former Senator Bob Dole once joked would require the persuasion of a SWAT team--the epitaphs for his eight years in office are pouring in, from friend and foe alike. He's Slick Willie and the Comeback Kid, the savior of the Democratic Party and the helmsman of its right turn. He's the first baby-boomer president and the second to be impeached, the embodiment of all that was inclusive and progressive about the 20th century's second half and all that was opportunistic and decadent. He is the overseer of a robust economy who never worked in the private sector and a commander in chief who never wore his nation's uniform. He's a former Rhodes scholar who embraced pop celebrity, a white male who has been dubbed (only half-jokingly) the first "black" and "female" president, a heterosexual who became the first president to explicitly court gay supporters. He's half of an endlessly intriguing, long-lived marriage and also the Big Creep. With all his contradictions, he is, in essence, a president who looks like America.

And he leaves big shoes to fill, perhaps less as head of state than as national cultural barometer and Rorschach test. He's the most polarizing American politician since Richard Nixon, as morally slippery and psychologically complex as Tricky Dick and arguably more politically astute. In the following pages, eight essayists (abetted by five illustrators) grapple with some aspect of Clinton and his legacy. The views expressed are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of City Paper; please keep that in mind when writing your letters to the editor. Return with us now, to a place called Hope...

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