An open letter to hope, Arkansas: I feel your pain. Six years ago, you were on top of the world. Your hometown boy had snagged the biggest peach on the tree, the highest aspiration of all American citizens (at least the white male ones). He was President of the United States of America. Not bad for a tiny town in rural Arkansas. But now, all that may be about to end. As words like "impeachment," "resignation" and "blowjob" circulate in the fetid air above Washington, D.C., you find yourselves facing the possibility that you may be the hometown not of a president but of a national embarrassment. If Bill Clinton resigns or is impeached, you'll have to endure years of analyses of What Went Wrong in Hope. Some will point the finger of blame at you, speculating that some flaw in Clinton's upbringing led him to commit high crimes and misdemeanors in the form of extramarital sex. That can hurt. It really can. But speaking for Orange County, a region with a rather infamous hometown boy of its own, let me assure you there are ways of getting through this crisis. Look at Richard Milhous Nixon. He went from what Hunter S. Thompson once called "a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president [who] was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning" to a rejuvenated elder statesman whom the nation's papers glorified on the day of his funeral some 20-odd years later. It can be done. So in the spirit of mutual support, I'd like to share some methods of coping that may come in handy should the worst happen to Clinton. I found all of the suggestions below on his beloved Information Superhighway, proving once again its value to the nation. DENY, DENY, DENYThe rubric of politicians everywhere and a favorite tactic of Nixon apologists. The Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation is an expert at this particular ploy. In a lovely article on their Web site (www.nixonfoundation.org) titled "Nixon's Sins Pale Compared With Clinton's Transgressions," they argue that Nixon was simply an innocent dupe deceived by his foul underlings. "[Nixon] did not authorize the Watergate break-in, and accordingly, in whatever accounts of what happened he shared with the American people, he had no first-hand knowledge of events and had to rely on information-frequently quite self-serving and misleading-provided to him by others," the site claims. This strange conviction is apparently shared by former Nixon speechwriter and perennial right-wing-loon poster boy Pat Buchanan, who, on his American Cause Web site (www.theamericancause.org), argues: "Richard Nixon's involvement in Watergate came of misplaced loyalty. He was trying to protect his people." So remember: Clinton wasn't a reckless man who couldn't keep his trousers zipped-he was the victim of a pint-sized Theda Bara, a conniving, scheming sexpot who took advantage of the poor sap. It's not a role Monica Lewinsky wears comfortably, no matter how hard the tabloids try to shoehorn her into it, but if you repeat it enough, it will start to sound true.COUNTERATTACK VICIOUSLYIf the Nixon library is going to argue that its hero's gaping moral wounds were mere festering boils when compared with Clinton having sex outside of marriage and then lying about it, you can do the same. To that end, I recommend checking out Nixon's Articles of Impeachment (vcepolitics.com/wgate/impart1.htm), which were adopted by the Judiciary Committee but never voted on by Congress due to Nixon's hasty resignation. There's plenty of ammunition here for arguing that Nixon was corrupt to the core, a rotten bastard who not only lied to the nation and attempted to cover up his underlings' actions, but also abused the power of the IRS and the FBI, engaged in sleazoid campaign tactics, used campaign money to fund illegal activities, willfully disobeyed congressional subpoenas, and a whole host of other entertaining misdeeds. Use it wisely.CONSTRUCT ELABORATE CONSPIRACY THEORIESOn the Nixon Was Framed site (expage.com/page/watergate), we find the bizarre theory that Nixon's evil flunkies E. Howard Hunt, John Mitchell and John Dean III-funded by the same shadowy forces that assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. and both John and Robert Kennedy-plotted to get Nixon impeached because he planned to end the war in Vietnam. Jerry Ford, Al Haig, the United Communist League for a Unified World and the Ku Klux Klan all fit in there somewhere as well. The Clinton team has already laid the groundwork for you with Hillary Rodham Clinton's spooky warnings of a "vast right-wing conspiracy," a charge that left her conservative opponents giggling in delight, in much the way journalists laugh whenever someone accuses us of belonging to the liberal-media elite. The morass of Clinton enemies is fertile enough ground to hatch a dozen competing theories. Perhaps it was an ambitious Al Gore, funded by the Rutherford Institute and Richard Scaife. Or maybe it was Clarence Thomas, backing Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones in an attempt to draw attention away from his own purported sexual peccadilloes. Use your imagination, people! FOCUS ON HIS GOOD SIDESo Nixon was an irredeemably crooked politician. At least he had a shiny, well-scrubbed, Republican family: Pat in her good cloth wool coat, Julie married to a descendant of Republican icon Ike Eisenhower, Tricia with her blond hair and pink ribbons. You can see them all on the Nixon Family Web site (220.127.116.11/nixonfamily), as well as read children's letters to Nixon, Julie's diary, and more heart-warming portraits of the president as a man. Since Clinton's weak link seems to be his family life, try turning the focus to his legislative accomplishments. And don't let those Republicans grab all the credit! If Reagan can claim responsibility for the Soviet Union's internal collapse, then Clinton can demand similar glory for rescuing the economy from the disaster of the '80s. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, REHABILITATE HIM AFTER HE'S DEADIf you don't believe me, check out the Dick Nixon for President site (www.vote4trickydick.com). And critics said he was finished back in 1962. Together, we can get through this crisis. And if worse comes to worst and Clinton leaves office in disgrace, an object of vilification throughout this great land of ours, at least try to keep a sense of humor about it. Perhaps someday, he can claw his way back to greatness, just as Nixon did. Just take a look at the Wak-a-Nixon page (www.superpants.com/wnix). I'll wait. There. You're feeling better already, aren't you? Wak Wyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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