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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Long Memories

By Richard Carreño
[WC News Service]
In 1996 I also happened to be in London when that other Clinton, William Jefferson Clinton, was reelected to his second term. The mood then, in the media and amongst my friends and acquaintances, mostly academics and journalists, was strong, widespread interest in the election. But little expressed concern. Even less emotional engagement. Twenty years later, that same platter is still on offer.
With a twist. Brexit anyone?
Back then, my political cohort of centre-lefties, largely New Labourites and enthusiastic followers of their new team captain, Tony Blair, saw Bill Clinton as being in the same putatively progressive mold of Blair. Clinton's sexual dalliances, exploits, and financial scandals were, as was the case then in the United States, set aside by his supporters, including his feminist cadre. for the greater good.
Similarly, support now for Hillary Clinton is widespread, though by all appearances even less enthusiastic than that bestowed to her husband two decades ago. Her current financial and e-mail scandals, following Bill's 'I-didn't-have-sex-with-that-woman'- Monica Lewinsky episode and impeachment, seem more the norm for the Clintons, rather than the exception.
Meantime, in the halls of villainy, Brexit looms larger than Donald Trump, the American spectre of evil.
In our age of disillusionment -- thanks to Barack Obama, the Iraq War, Tony Blair, and world-wide terrorism -- some memories ironically are sharper today than perhaps they were back in the day.
Almost everyone recognizes that Hillary is a superior candidate to Trump. But Bill's easy pass -- expressed in the greater good rationale -- hasn't been handed down so readily upon her. Bill's 'bimbo eruptions' are always a step behind.
On election night in November 1996, I was attending a count-down vigil, hosted at the American Embassy, for London-based political junkies. Because of the time difference between the UK and the US, the event ran well into the early morning of the next day before Clinton's reelection was announced.
As the long, boozy evening-morning wore on, I had the good fortune of standing near a splendid-looking woman, nursing a drink and a good helping of seeming ennui. She was also wearing, on the upper left side of her dress, just above her breast, a small, lapel-pin-sized doll, immediately recognizable as a figurine of Bill Clinton.
Ah, an opening I thought.
'Nice pin,' I said.
'Yes, but he's quite naughty,' she replied, stifling a yawn. 'Yes, very naughty. Every now and then, he tries to grab my tit. And I have to slap him'
Even now, twenty years later and just three days away from Election Night 2016, Hillary Clinton is still dogged by that memory. Slapping included.