The Best of Notable Quotables; December 28, 1998

Vol. Eleven; No. 27

Presidential Kneepad Award (for Best Lewinsky Impression)

“The ironies for a President not given to irony are endless. Consider this: the best chance for Clinton to shine in history might be for Congress to force him to pay the price for lying about sex. In the unlikely event he is pushed from office, it would take only weeks, maybe just days, before a vast national remorse set in. We destroyed our lovable rogue prince of prosperity over this? Clinton would become a martyr to a legal system run amok. His defeat would mean victory over not just sheet-sniffing prosecutors but all those who would criminalize politics with endless investigations. As legacies go, balancing the budget might look puny by comparison.”

Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter in the Aug. 24 issue. [63 points]


“Well, he’s been elected twice with people knowing he has had affairs. Now is the fact that this woman is 21. I mean, she’s still of age, I suppose. You know, I think that the distaste that people may feel for this will also be because of the fact that the probing into this person’s private life has occurred. I think past Presidents, Lyndon Johnson for one, certainly Jack Kennedy, these things went on, you know, libido and leadership are linked.”

– Eleanor Clift reacting to charges the President had sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, live MSNBC coverage at about 5pm ET, January 21, the day the story broke. [50]

“The only people who count in any marriage are the two that are in it.’ There is a simple alchemy to their relationship: she’s goofy, flat-out in love with him and he with her. ‘They don’t kiss. They devour each other,’ says one aide. He needs her – for intellectual solace, political guidance and spiritual sustenance ....Clinton haters and even some supporters wonder whether their marriage will end with the presidency. That seems wildly unlikely. Neither Clinton plans to trade in a public career for shuffleboard. As long as they’re in the limelight, their turbulent partnership seems certain to endure – for better or worse. That’s  because they see themselves in almost Messianic terms, as great leaders who have a mission to fulfill. Her friends speculate that the Bible gives her a historical context for what she’s going through. ‘There’s a lot of consolation, guidance and refueling that comes from reading about centuries- old calamities,’ says a friend. Given the storm they’re in, it’s a source of inspiration they’ll need.”

– Matthew Cooper and Karen Breslau, Feb. 9 Newsweek. [48]
“Who has ever been punished more for adultery in this country? I mean, you have to go to Saudi Arabia to see people shamed the way the President was. And I think it was nobody’s business.”

Time’s Margaret Carlson on NBC’s Today, August 19. [44]
“In the gaudy mansion of Clinton’s mind there are many rooms with heavy doors, workrooms and playrooms, rooms stuffed with trophies, rooms to stash scandals and regrets. He walks lightly amid the ironies of his talents and behavior, just by consigning them to different cubbies of his brain. It's an almost scary mind, that of a multitasking wizard who plays hearts while he talks on the phone with a head of state, who sits through a dense briefing on chemical weapons intently doing a crossword puzzle, only to take reporters’ questions hours later and repeat whole sections of the briefing word for word.”

Time Senior Editor Nancy Gibbs opening a news story in the March 2 issue. [40]