I thought people were kidding about this thing looking like a double-wide, but they're not....
Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not at all appalled, as I would have been if they had, say, torn down the White House and replaced it with something like this. Not only is Mr. Bill's glass and steel monstrosity entirely appropriate for the sordid contents and mendacities contained within, but it reminds me of Gary Aldrich's description of decorating the Clinton Christmas trees in his book Unlimited Access.
"Sure enough, in 1993, I was invited back to assist in hanging the Christmas decorations, but I declined. I was fed up with the attitude of the Clinton administration and its endless scandals.
"Just before Decorating Saturday, I ran into some of my old team members from the previous Christmas. They were next to the Oval Office working on wreaths....
"'Gary, how you doing? I hear you can't help us this year. Why not?'
"I made a flimsy excuse and avoided eye contact.
"'Well, don't feel too bad about it, pal. You aren't missing anything. You wouldn't believe what they're calling "Christmas decorations" this year. It's unbelievable. In fact, it's downright disgraceful. There's this one ornament, a clear lucite block, and inside are some old computer parts, and that's a Christmas ornament, see?'
"My other former team member chimed in, 'Yeah, it's true, and there's all of this carved dark wood, not resembling much of anything - just sticks and twigs tied together. They look like fertility gods or something. We can't tell.'
"'Yeah, and there are pots and carvings, some that look kind of obscene, and boxes, but nowhere can we find anything that resembles Christmas
"'And have you seen Bertha?'
"Yes, I had seen Bertha - big, ebony Bertha. Bertha was a statue that Hillary had selected to be placed along the public tour line. About eleven other examples of modern art were in the Jackie Kennedy Garden. Bertha was twice life-size and was very naked. In addition, Bertha had enormous buttocks, far out of proportion to the rest of her body.
"That is why the permanent White House staff named her Bertha, which was short for 'Bertha's Big Ass.' This is what the first lady considered appropriate for the eyes of the thousands and thousands of visitors who daily toured the White House - Bertha's Big Ass.
"I could just hear my child saying, 'Daddy, why doesn't that lady have any clothes on? Daddy, why does she have such a big, fat ass?'
"Later that same day, I drove to the Cannon House Office Building for some interviews. As I waited at a stop light, I looked over at the national Christmas tree. What a sight it was. Gone were the multicolored Christmas balls and other ornaments that traditionally symbolized Christmas. Gone was the star from the top of the tree, symbolizing the night when Christ was born.
"Instead, on top of the tree was a large stainless-steel ball pierced by colored shafts. It looked like the ball that sat atop the Daily Planet
building in the Superman
comic books I read as a child. This ball and the square and triangle tinfoil ornaments made the tree look like a robot. I couldn't wait to see what the Clintons and their friends would do the following year....
"I arrived early. Everyone was in a good mood, but I was surprised to hear the first family was at home. They had not gone to Camp David, as was traditional - that way, the decorating could go on undisturbed and they could be surprised when they returned for the great unveiling. Perhaps Hillary didn't trust us. She had, in fact, 'hired' some volunteers of her own. While in New York, Hillary had seen an office she thought was well-decorated. She ordered the staff to find the decorators and bring them down.
"The permanent White House staff wasn't wild about this idea, but, after all, it was
the first lady's show, and everyone understood that it would be done the way Hillary Clinton wanted it done.
"'Gary, you and your team will work on the Blue Room tree.'
"What? I had been 'fired' two years before from the Blue Room tree, the first lady's tree, for complete decorative incompetence. 'They must have forgotten,' I thought....
"The GSA, Park Service, and Residence maintenance staff had erected all the trees. Some staff were on high ladders, hanging evergreen garlands. We gathered around folding tables to unpack the ornament boxes.
"It took about ten seconds to get the first reaction: 'What in the world?'
"Then another: 'What the hell?'
"Then another: 'Look at this thing! What is
"'Hillary's ornaments is what!'
"From one end of the hall to the other, about forty people were picking up these 'things,' staring at them, turning them around, trying to figure them out or stifle their embarrassed laughter. I turned to one of my team members. 'What are
"'I heard the theme is The Twelve Days of Christmas
, as interpreted by art students from around the country. Hillary sent a letter out just two months ago, really late actually, asking budding artists to send in an interpretation of The Twelve Days of Christmas
, and this is what they came up with.'
"I couldn't believe what I was looking at. 'This stuff is just childish garbage! We can't hang this stuff on any White House Christmas tree! This is a bad joke.'
"'Gary, the orders from the first lady's office are to hang these. It's what she wants, so we have to hang them. Anyway, many of them are from "blue ribbon" art schools, as designated by the Secretary of Education. The whole administration has a stake in this.'
"'Well, if this is blue ribbon, then we're in serious trouble, educationally.' I pulled out one ornament that was five real onion rings ("five golden rings") glued to a white styrofoam tray, with a hook attached to the back so it could be hung. But where? Maybe in Bill Clinton's bedroom so he could rip off a midnight snack?
"I was disgusted, but some of it was actually pretty funny.
"'Gary, come here, look at this!' It was a mobile of twelve lords-a-leaping. They were leaping, all right. The ornament consisted of tiny clay male figurines. Each was naked and had an enormous erection. My friend said, 'Whoops!' and dropped it on the floor. Then, 'Oh, no!' as he stomped on it. He joked, 'Man, I hope I don't get in trouble with Hillary for that!'
"Some of the ornaments were silly and some were dangerous, like the crack pipes hung on a string. We couldn't figure out what crack pipes had to do with Christmas no matter how hard we tried, so we threw them back in the box. Some ornaments were constructed out of various drug paraphenalia, like syringes, heroin spoons, or roach clips, which are colorful devices sometimes adorned with bird feathers and used to hold marijuana joints.
"Two turtle doves became two figurines that had the shells of turtles but the heads of birds; there were many of these. Four calling birds were - you guessed it - birds with a telephone, and there were at least two miniature phone booths with four birds inside using the telephone. There was a partridge in a pear, without the tree - a clay pear with a severed partridge head sticking out of it. Three French hens were French-kissing in a menage a trois
. So many of the ornaments didn't celebrate Christmas as much as they celebrated sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Several of the birds had dark glasses and were blowing saxophones.
"'Hey, Gary. Come over here.' I walked over. It was another leaping lords ornament. Each 'lord' had a wooden body with a photograph of Rush Limbaugh for a head. A dozen dittoheads, suitable for hanging, but nobody had the guts to hang Rush Limbaugh from Hillary's tree, so back in the box it went....
"I went over to one of the tables I hadn't look at yet. What's this? Of course. Two turtle doves, but they didn't have shells this time - they were joined together in an act of bird fornication.
"I picked up another ornament that was supposed to illustrate five golden rings. One of the male florist volunteers grabbed my arm and laughed and laughed.
"'What's so funny? What are you laughing at?'
"'Don't you know what you're holding?'
"No, I didn't, but he was happy to explain it to me: the golden rings I was holding were sex toys know as 'cock rings' - and they had nothing to do with chickens.
"Another mystery ornament was the gingerbread man. How did he fit into The Twelve Days of Christmas
? Then I got it. There were five small, golden rings I hadn't seen at first: one in his ear, one in his nose, one through his nipple, one through his belly button, and, of course, they ever-popular cock ring.
"I couldn't believe the disrespect that these ornaments represented. Many of the artists invited to make and send something to hang on the tree must have had nothing by disgust, hatred, and disrespect for the White House and the citizens of this country, a disgust obviously encouraged by the first lady in the name of 'artistic freedom.'
[Is this sounding familiar....?
"I thought of all the children, grandmothers, and grandfathers walking past the White House's Blue Room, looking at the first lady's Christmas tree and wondering what in hell had possessed the White House.
"Here was another five golden rings ornament - five gold-wrapped condoms. I threw them in the trash. There were other condom ornaments, some still in the wrapper, some not. Two sets had been 'blown' into balloons and tied to small trees. I wasn't sure what the connection was to The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Condoms on a pear tree?
"When we were through, the first lady's tree had all the beauty and majesty of a landfill."
That concluding phrase captures not just the Clintons' White House Christmas trees, but their entire misbegotten, malfeasant hijacking of the presidency, and certainly this tacky post-modernist dump on the banks of the Arkansas River, complete with "saxophone row" and an entire shank (er, wing) devoted to, that's right, the "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy"
. Even the opening ceremony was appropo - dank, dreary, and depressing, held in a driving November downpour the assembled "blue"-staters (Presidents Bush wouldn't have been if they'd had a politic choice - not unlike how Big Media and Hollywoodies would never have set foot in a hick backwater like Little Rock for any other reason) didn't have the collectiv(ist) sense to get out of, so mordantly nostaglic were they for the "rock star" hero who single-handedly laid waste to their party yet whose zeitgeist they are incapable of letting go, even as he rapidly catches up to Jimmy Carter in wizened, grizzled, stooped-over troll-like appearance.
Guests stayed at the same hotel at which then-Governor Clinton propositioned Paula Jones
(aka the Kiss-It Hilton). It even had a stroll down impeachment lane, when the following exchange
took place between Mr. Bill and Peter Jennings:
(Discussing rankings by presidential historians]: They gave you a forty-first in terms of moral authority - after Nixon.
: They're wrong about that. You know why they're wrong about it? They're wrong about it.
: Why, sir?
: Because we had $100 million spent against us in all these inspections. ... In spite of it all, you don't have any example where I ever lied to the American people about my job, where I have let the American people down. And I had more support from the world when I quit than when I started. And I will go to my grave being at peace about it. And I don't really care about what they think.
: Oh, yes you do.
: They have no idea ...
: Excuse me, Mr. President. I can feel it across the room. You care very deeply.
: No, no. I care. I care. You don't want to go here, Peter. You don't want to go here. Not after what your people did. And the way you - your network - what you did with Kenneth Starr. The way your people repeated every little sleazy thing he did. No one has any idea of what that's like.
Oh, yeah, he's
A waggish high school classmate of mine once opined that, from the air, our school looked like a "giant Triscuit." I once depicted Clinton, sitting in the Oval Office staring out into the Rose Garden, dreaming of sandblasting Mt. Rushmore clean of the busts of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt, and replacing them with a gargantuan sculpture of his aroused genitalia. "It'll be the world's biggest bathroom wall," I imagined him saying as he beheld his equivalent of Nebechudnezzar's golden statue in his mind's eye. He probably won't get that, but I suspect that an aeriel view of "Clinton Library and Massage Parlor
" provides a Monica's-eye-view of essentially the same narcissized sight. Very symbolic, in fact, of what Bill Clinton did to America, his own party, and what the latter is still trying to do to the land of the free and the home of the brave to this day.
And look what he, and they, have to show for it: a glorified landfill and a handful of sullen, cock-ringed, fat-assed, heathen mourners, who have no idea just how long, and much, they actually have to lament.
Goes to show that it does, indeed, rain on the unjust as well as the just.