Explaining the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal to my cat
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 8, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat
I'm not exactly a news connoisseur. The mention of Dan Rather or Cokie Roberts sends a tingle of revulsion dancing down my spine. Merely turning the dial to CNN elicits a feeling from deep within my gut which I could only describe as nausea. I have a fantasy about knocking the paperboy off of his bicycle by tossing back at him the very piece of information-saturated crud that he so thoughtlessly deposits in my yard each morning.
Nor am I, generally speaking, overly moved by the great events shaping our lives each day. I wasn't particularly impressed by McGwire's 70 home runs and every time I hear about another aspect our ever-worsening economic crisis, I breath a long distinct sigh as if to say; could the world possibly get any more boring?
While you might reasonably object that apathy is hardly a valuable quality in a columnist, I will hasten to add that there was one recent news event that pulled profoundly at my heartstrings and prompted me to spend hours raptly absorbing data from TV set and computer alike.
I am referring to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and all that relates to it, including the Starr report, the grand jury footage and speculations about possible impeachment proceedings. Unfortunately, my almost obsessive interest in this story has, until recently, kept me sequestered in my locked room nourished only by each new development.
And I have a unique angle on this story. My cat Andromeda and I have always been very close. We share many important things in life, and so I naturally wanted to explain to her my fascination with this story and why I consider it so important.
It was for these reasons that I took upon myself the task of devising a means to describe and explain to my cat the development, course and significance of the scandal surrounding President Clinton and to thus edify her by illuminating the important moral, social and political issues contained therein.
I realized that there were, however, a few notable obstacles that I would have to overcome before such an explanation could be carried out. Not the least of these problems was the fact that Andromeda has great difficulty understanding human speech. She doesn't even come when I call her name. How could I expect her to understand the subtle currents and nuances of a complex political discourse such as this one? How could I get her to appreciate, for example, that the President's inappropriate relationship with Miss Lewinsky was precisely a physically inappropriate relationship rather than inappropriate spiritually, mentally or in some other sense?
After much agonizing deliberation on the issue, I finally devised a method of conveying the necessary information to my cat. I decided to perform a complex pantomime using familiar objects from around the house to represent the key characters and reenact key scenes between them as well as important testimony from the grand jury hearing. The first step was to assemble the cast of characters.
In the kitchen, I located a piece of cat food that I would use for President Clinton and a little piece of twine that would serve as Monica Lewinsky. Moving to the couch, I found a plastic coin that could be used for Hillary and a cursory search outside provided a blade of grass for Bettie Currie and a pebble for an unnamed secret service guard.
Back inside again, I caught two white mice that would represent Clinton's private attorney David Kendall and former commerce secretary Mickey Kantor. Another tail-less mouse would be used for Kenneth Starr.
I then managed to find the trap with that mouse's tail still in it, which was fortuitous, as it allowed me to add further complexity by portraying Newt Gingrich. There was also something I found in the corner of my bathroom that, if less decayed, might be identifiable as a dead giant cockroach. This, I decided could be used as Linda Tripp.
When everything was prepared, I located Andromeda. I led her into the kitchen and proceeded to carefully explain the entire affair as I previously described.
In the interest of preserving a small amount of public decency, I won't describe the details of how I used the props to get all of the key points across.
Suffice it to say that when Andromeda finally did begin to comprehend the issues involved she proceeded through an array of emotions including shock, dismay, disgust and finally joy that such an interesting and titillating story had come her way. I watched her face light up as concepts such as perjury, special prosecutor, impeachment and cigar shimmered in her eyes.
This was a special moment for both of us, the kind where life's vacant routine is suddenly shattered by the epiphany that the world is truly an amazing place.
Kevin Jernigan can be reached via e-mail at Kevin.Jernigan@wildcat.arizona.edu.