Only lucky strikes and a pitcher of Tanqueray martinis could resolve the cognitive dissonances of the Clinton administration. One newspaper I saw on March 25 carried a story about hearings on regulating tobacco alongside another story about Dr. Jocelyn Elders’ opposition to banning tobacco products. Since then FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler has been ranting before Congress about the evils of tobacco, insisting that tobacco is a drug and should be treated like one. Meanwhile, the Whitewater affair has been unfolding, the most alarming aspect of which seems the somnolent: Bill Clinton’s aw-shucks press conference and poker-faced twaddle about his wife’s “moral authority.” Mr. Clinton has also appeared at ball games and gone on record in favor of health. Clinton is most dangerous when he affects the most stupidity, a trick of Southern politicians that the national press just doesn’t get. Ah, but what is the connection between tobacco and moral authority? The answer is power.

Deeply moved by Mr. Clinton’s recent televised intimacies about prayer and spirituality, I nevertheless noted during one of my brief periods of lucidity the discordance between his tone and his policies. The one thing I keep remembering is Bill Clinton’s promise to give us a government that looks more like the American people—and I wish he had. The American people, as far as I know them, not only look a lot better than the Clinton administration but also have a rate of sexual deviancy of a mere one percent. The “Clintones” are people (some of whom have no need of political cartoonists, resembling in one case a turkey vulture with wattles, in another a Boston bull terrier, and so on) whose answer to every “problem” is—more power for the federal government.

And person, do we have problems, tobacco chief among them. Because it is not against perversion but has to be against something, the Clinton administration is apparently against tobacco. On the other hand, the Surgeon General favors the legalization of drugs as well as condoms for high school students, homosexual adoption, etc. Obviously, the Clinton administration itself is one of the biggest reasons that people need smoking’s consolation. Besides, smoking is both traditional and modern, American and multicultural. Professor Richard Klein’s Cigarettes Are Sublime pretty much says it all on that score. But why is it that so often with the Clinton administration, instead of walking a mile for a Camel, we feel that we have walked a mile behind one? The bliss of pulmonary eroticism has never seemed so attractive as when assailed by the blue noses and blue stockings of this government. Just looking at them is enough to make you sound off for Chesterfields. And besides, the New Puritanism, even Prohibitionism, comes from a source that must seem—to say the least—unlikely, yet whose perversity and lust for power make such grotesque ingenuousness and inversion necessary and even predictable.

Liberalism as twisted Puritanism and as a means to power is a familiar story in American history. How pleasant it is to think that women crusading against alcohol helped finance the Mob, albeit indirectly. But perhaps a more perfect image is of the confrontation at Waco, Texas. You may recall how tenderly Attorney General Janet Reno agonized about all those abused children before she sent a tank after them.

But while we’re on the subject of temperance, I interrupt this message with a few words in praise of alcohol. There’s nothing like the sight of Janet Reno making war on American citizens and killing them on principle, or of Jocelyn Elders running her mouth about condoms for children and the joys of sodomy, or of Bill Clinton getting close to God and closer to some bimbo, or of Hillary Clinton trying to look as though cattle futures wouldn’t melt in her mouth, or of Warren Christopher groping in his briefcase for a foreign policy, or of Donna Shalala trying to look and sound normal—nothing, I say, that would make anyone want to duck faster into some discreet cocktail lounge for a quick one. Let’s face it: when the title “Surgeon General” has come to signify something more like “Obnoxious Moron,” then there’s much to be said for getting loaded.

And not only that. Since we now pay billions to be told what everyone used to know, I must have been the only person in the world listening 40 years ago when I was instructed by every adult I knew that smoking and drinking were bad habits that would shorten my life. And sometimes I hope they have, because I don’t much want to live in a country that would tolerate being told such boring truisms by overpaid federal phonies. In that sense, the noble mien of Dr. Jocelyn Elders not only makes a smoke-filled bar newly appealing but also reminds me that in the cemetery I will be hanging out with a higher class of people than the political class that governs this nation. I find death assurance much more comforting than life insurance.

Why worry about the Clintones trying to take over a seventh of the economy—the health care system? They’re only interested in it for our own good. Singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and throwing out the first pitch. Biliary is as American as a three-dollar bill. Lyndon Johnson would—and did—approve of decking out naked power grabs with boughs of holly and sentimentality and lies. He would have understood how completely unembarrassed the Clintones have been by the rebukes of Mother Teresa and the Pope, as they proceed to lock “reproductive services” into their health care reform. And I think he would also have approved of Dr. Elders’ obsession with condoms. Latex is a solution to lust as much as Band-Aids are to Kaposi’s sarcoma, or as “war” was to “poverty.” Variously perverted constituencies of the Clintons wouldn’t have it any other way.

Meanwhile, a voire sante. Got a light?