The President of these disunited states has been busy lately with his usual bait-and-switch tactics, ones which have made the newspapers more than ever exasperating to scan. Recently, the administration had three different Bosnia policies in one day, and the newly proposed Clinton budget was a split-the-difference maneuver that aped the Republicans. The President is hardly presidential.

He can’t even run the White House itself, which, because of several attempts to attack its occupant (one kamikaze, several bullets, and no wonder), has now been further removed from public access. And in an exquisite display of complex and interlocking fatuities, the President has apologized for his servants. Secret Service officers who, greeting a delegation of 50 “openly gay and lesbian elected officials,” wore rubber gloves on their hands. Before his apology, however, other protesters chanting “shame, shame” decorated the White House fence with scores of rubber gloves as they left the line of a Gay Pride Day parade.

In the first place, the original assortment of homosexual politicos had been invited to mend fences—they are one of the groups to which the President has pandered and which he has “betrayed.” If Clinton had not been so brazenly manipulative in the first place, he would not have had to do it again. The President’s attempt to destroy military distinctions early in his administration backfired, and ill became a draft-evader. But now the time had come to reassemble Clinton’s rainbow coalition. And because of his lack of credibility, Clinton will always be suspected of connivance in the rubber glove incident, as he in effect gained from it both ways. The tricky Mr. Clinton has a way of making Richard Nixon look like Woodrow Wilson.

But beneath his burlesque lies the grotesque—the second place. No one should be invited anywhere, even to the White House, just to be insulted. The obligations of hospitality (a great theme of Homer’s Odyssey) are a definition of civilization. Yet strangely enough, those “gay elected officials” were and are the last people in the world with a claim to be exempted from what we might call the rubber treatment. Mr. Clinton, in his apology, referred to “the inappropriate and insensitive treatment several of the participants were subjected to” and deeply regretted “any insult and embarrassment” that some might have suffered. This seems an oddly selective view of the matter.

For a quarter of a century, the great majority of the American people have been subjected unrelentingly to inappropriate and insensitive treatment and endless insult and embarrassment, by the constituency or even by the members of the delegation of “gay elected officials.” If I may use the first person plural, we have been subjected to a great deal of the rubber treatment. I refer to condoms thrown at priests during Mass, condoms thrown at children, the attempted subversion of the school system to instruct in homosexuality, condom ads on TV endorsed by various Surgeons General—indeed a widespread advocacy of the homosexual worldview. To acknowledge that view in some way has meant to diminish any vestiges of normality and illusions of innocence. Childhood has particularly been a point of attack. The separation of sex from marriage has produced its opposite: the demand for legal homosexual marriage and adoption rights. The American people have been asked to endorse a caricature of the family, even as the family itself is disintegrating.

The homosexual propaganda machine, one allied with the most powerful organs of communication in our world, has asserted that a life of impersonal lust and the threat of IIIV and other diseases has necessitated the intrusion of rubber in every intimacy—which will of course save the world, and not coincidentally demonstrate an equivalence between “lifestyles.” Unfortunately, the news from the gay community, which should more accurately be called the morose lobby, is that the protection of rubber is being scanted in favor of romantic freedom. Something’s in the air, and they’re in love again, and the HIV incidence among young morose males is rising.

Well, all right then, I think that everyone has seen doctors and dentists and foodhandlers and others wearing rubber gloves and usually accc]5ted it as necessary or even beneficial. So what’s wrong, I’d like to know, with the Secret Service men greeting morose elected officials while wearing rubber gloves? They showed a prudence commendable in public servants. Their offense was to imply that self-identified homosexuals were homosexuals, and that the government’s own propaganda about protection is supposed to be ignored for political, not polite, reasons. Besides, the homosexuality of self-proclaimed homosexuals is not supposed to be noted except by homosexuals when it is to their maximum advantage, and only then, such as at rallies attempting to extort money from the government or at Morose Pride marches, at which men with female breasts go topless.

Sad to say, even a handshake has been subjected to a paranoid treatment that’s not without justification. The people who say that viruses cannot be spread by casual contact are the same ones who once said that the nation’s blood supply did not need screening—that would be discriminatory! Precisely so. Today, in view of all the lying that has gone on in refusing to treat a disease as a disease, I would recommend that to prevent further embarrassment, all visitors to this White House wear rubber gloves. The Secret Service persons would be off the hook, and the visitors would be protected from the administration by rubber, as the government has so insistently recommended. If there were any hand-in-glove pressing of the flesh, no one would have to remember what the comedian Jonathan Winters used to say in character: “Put that down! You don’t know where it’s been!”