Something you almost always have to take with at least one grain of salt is entertainers commenting on politics. For the cover story of the November 12 Rolling Stone, you need a whole shakerful.
In this nine-page symposium, more than forty celebrities, most of them musicians, offer their "thoughts" on Lewinskygate. The participants (with a handful of exceptions, such as Tom Wolfe) are below even the level of overwhelming factual ignorance. They inhabit a nether region where the intellect virtually shuts down, leaving only emotional spew.
Since so much rock-era popular music has endorsed or condoned sexual license, it's completely unsurprising that many of these performers seem to approve of Bill Clinton's promiscuity. To wit - or, better, to witless - rap star Noreaga: "All work and no pleasure? That never amounts to s-t... Clinton bent the rules the way he's supposed to. Your wife can't give you [oral sex] while you're on the job, 'cause that's your wife, ya smell me? The person you gotta be [receiving oral sex from] has to be a professional. It's gotta be all business."
And, in case you're wondering what an MBA program at Noreaga University might involve, here's a hint: "Monica Lewinsky said, 'I lifted my skirt up and showed him my thong.' She was lap-dancing when she did that. She was stripping. That's professional!" Oh.
Marilyn Manson: "There's no reason why [Clinton] shouldn't be getting laid just like a rock star would... I don't even consider [his affair with Lewinsky] a mistake. In fact, [oral sex is] right there with handshakes and autographs as part of the job. It's like kissing babies... It's more comforting to know that the president can get an erection. I wouldn't want an impotent president."
To certain symposium participants, the problem is this awful moralistic Puritan nation of ours. U2's Bono: "To the rest of the world, America [responding to the scandal] looks like a teenager in a masturbatory frenzy of voyeurism and Schadenfreude." Robbie Robertson, formerly of the Band: "I'm in Europe right now, and people here are baffled and horrified that someone could actually peek in someone's underwear. It's time for everybody to mind their own f--ing business. Just deal with your own [penis] and leave everyone else's alone."
Others avoid dealing with Clinton's conduct; instead, they criticize his enemies. Willie Nelson remarks that Kenneth Starr "looks like some Sunday-school teacher who I didn't like. He can do all these horrible things and smile. How can you trust a guy like that?" Singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams charges that Starr is "hung up sexually... He's an attention freak." Rapper Fat Joe opines, "This is a personal vendetta... I mean, not even Kathie Lee Gifford went through this s-t." Uh, Joe, don't you mean Frank Gifford?
Former Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir now appears to be virtually brain-dead, declaring, "What we're seeing now is a coup attempt from the religious right... using their tried and true methods, such as pillorying and lynching." Weir also takes the nastiness prize for this shot at Paula Jones: "That girl looks like a dachshund - or looked like a dachshund before her right-wing-funded nose operation."
Still others condemn Clinton's conduct, then criticize his enemies more harshly. Michael Douglas: "I'm so disappointed in [Clinton] that I can't see straight, but... is Starr acting responsibly? I don't think so. This has been a witch hunt from Day One." Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio: "Clinton may be guilty of a lapse of judgment, but Ken Starr is a politically motivated, narrow-minded dirt bag." Actress/comedienne Janeane Garofalo: "Beyond Clinton's obvious personality defects, I think some major issues are at work with Lucianne Goldberg, Linda Tripp and Kenneth Starr. There's definitely something wrong with those three."
Finally, two symposiasts are in categories of their own. Patti Smith laments, at this late date, the end of the 1960s: "When I look at the crucifixion of Clinton, I look at the crucifixion of my generation. They are finally nailing us for introducing new ideas about sexual mores, sexual freedom, personal freedom." And British singer/songwriter Billy Bragg speaks for the hardcore pragmatists: "If [Clinton] could contribute to a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, he can be having sex with Buddy for all I care."
Wow. Jesse Ventura could body-slam these people and it still wouldn't knock any sense into them.