apparently, by most early American readersrnas too idiosyncratic and obscure (onernnotable exception was the first Virginian,rnCaptain John Smith). But it does not appearrnthat the 42nd (all at sixes and sevens?)rnPresident of the New Romans (asrnCanadian arch-nationalist Mel Hurtigrnonce entitled them) has absorbed veryrnmuch of the Stoic emperor’s message,rnthough he claims to re-read it every year.rnPerhaps he only knows it through a specialrnArkansas pop-up edition. MaybernChelsea could help him with the harderrnwords and pass on some of her Stanfordpolishedrnbrainpower. For Dad doesrnseem to have missed most of Marcus’srnmessage, above all where sex is concerned.rnTake this typical admonition;rn”He that does wrong fron^ lust, beingrnmastered by pleasure, is incontinent andrnunmanly in his wrong-doing.” WhenrnMarcus had the chance to tamper with arnpalace girl (read: intern) named Benedicta,rnhe refrained, knowing that “if a manrnhas sensibility, he will gaze with chasterneyes upon the alluring loveliness of thernyoung.”rnNow that Bill is more concerned withrnMilosevic than Monica, he might, on hisrnnext perusal, consider what Marcus hasrnto say about waging war. Unlike Clinton,rnthis Roman leader fought in person forrnhis country throughout the last decade ofrnhis life. He died in camp in central Europe,rnpossibly poisoned by his son Commodusrn(Chelsea, take note), the allegedrnproduct of his wife’s extramarital passionrnfor a gladiator. (Does any Beltway gossiprnconnect Hillary with a taste for NFL linemen?)rnYou may be victorious, Marcusrntells those who would wage war, butrn”consider how many great captains arerndead after butchering thousands,” whilern”men may pride themselves on capturingrnboars or bears or barbarians, yet are thesernmen not brigands if von examine theirrnmotive?” Not that warmongering is thernonly thing which “obliterates holy principles”;rnso does its opposite, cowardicern(read: draft-dodging), as well as “stageapery”rn(read: public performances onrnsaxophone); Bill moves easily from sex tornsax, both of which involve blowing, if notrninhaling.rnOne could easily rack up a long list ofrnother Aurelian prescriptions unnoticedrnby his American epigone: the violencerndone to one’s soul by lying (“How rottenrnat the core is he who proclaims aloud; Irnshall be straight with vou. There is nornneed to say this. The fact should declarernitself It ought to be written on the face, arnring in the voice should show it at once,rnjust as the loved one can read at a glancernevery secret in the lover’s looks”); thernneed to be deferential to the Senate andrnaddress it always in non-dissemblingrnwords; the pointlessness of tailoring one’srnimage to posterity, “which no one hasrnseen or shall see.”rnPerhaps Bill should consult anotherrnclassic, the biographer Suetonius, one ofrnthe authors whom Thomas Jeiferson recommendedrnto ancient history students atrnthe University of Virginia in 1825. Settingrnaside the question of incest, but withrnthat dress in mind, Clinton should turnrnwithout ado to chapter 28 of the Life ofrnNero; “Whenever the emperor rode in arnlitter with his mother, he had sexual relationsrnwith her, which were betrayed byrnthe stains on their clothing.”rn—Bam- Baldwinrn” V I S U A L POLITICS” seems an aptrndescription of our current regime. Sincernmost Americans acquire their news byrntelevision, those making news or seekingrnto communicate it must do so visually.rnSince television has not really formulatedrnits own vocabulary, however, its visualsrnowe a debt to the movies. It is a commonplacernto speak of the Clinton presidencyrnas influenced by Hollywood, andrnthe President actually imports friendsrnwho are Hollywood producers to stagernmajor events and press conferences, suchrnas that wonderful cinematic momentrnwhere he sternly shook his finger at usrnand emphatically explained that he “didrnnot have sexual relations with that woman,rnMs. Lewinsky.” Wag the Dog tried tornsatirize similar developments, only to bernovertaken quickly by the real world, asrnthe President unleashed the dogs of warrnat a crucial moment in his impeachmentrnproceedings.rnSince the early days of the Clinton administration,rnhowever, the proper visualrnanalog has not really been Hollvwood,rnbut Italian cinema of the 1960’s. Fromrnthe moment the President held up trafficrnat LAX to get his hair cut by a st’list to thernstars, he transcended his own milieu andrntransformed American political life into arnFellini film. The President probablyrncomes closest to playing Guido, the MarcellornMastroianni role in Fellini’s masterpiece,rn8, a wonderfully absurdist study ofrna movie director who can’t figure out arnplot for his film. The film consists ofrngrotesquerie piled upon grotesquerie, asrnthe increasingly feckless protagonist disappointsrnhis mistress, his wife, his colleagues,rnand his producer. The Clintonrnparallels hardly need developing.rnRecently, it became clear that thernPresident’s supporting players have alsornadopted his trademark Fellini visuals.rnOnly Fellini could match the jov ofrnwatching Slobodan Milosevic holdrnhands with Jesse Jackson, as the Reverendrn(ostensibly disowned by the WhiternHouse) joined in prayer \ ith the purportedrnButcher of the Balkans and then succeededrnin freeing the American prisoners.rnThe scene was straight from thernfinale of 8, where all the principals joinrnhands and dance around the set, or fromrnJuliet of the Spirits, where a similarly otherworldlvrnmood is captured.rnE’en vhen no visuals are inx’olved, nationalrnaffairs have achieved the surrealismrnof Fellini, and occasionally haverneven gone beyond into practically purernDada. Rene Magritte’s famous paintingrnof a pipe, with the caption “ceci nest pasrnun pipe,” is echoed bv Monica’s adventuresrnwith the President’s cigar. SurelyrnMarcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending arnStaircase or his display of a urinal has anrnaffinit’ to the Starr Report, particularly itsrnintriguing footnote 210 (which reports onrnoral-anal contact between the Presidentrnand the Intern) or its footnote 81, which,rnin the circumspect words of London’srnGuardian, reports on “the President’srnhabit of finishing himself ofiF into a WhiternHouse sink.”rnBut it is Fellini’s oeuvre, particularly 8,rnthat seems best to capture Mr. Clinton’srnpresidency. He is so clearly the haplessrnprotagonist, never quite able to bring offrnwhat he desires, unable to tell where fantasyrnleaves off and realit}’ begins, and ambivalentrnabout (and yet still obsessivelyrninvolved with) religion and moralitv’.rnThus, as did Guido, the Presidentrnflounders as he tries to come to grips withrnhis own inadequacies. In Mr. Clinton’srncase, he struggles to come up with somernkind of legacy apart from his sexual peccadilloes,rnhis impeachment, and his recentrncitation for contempt by a federalrnjudge (a first for a President). Only a Europeanrnironist seems capable of doing hisrnlatest effort justice: If not, Fellini, thenrnperhaps it would take Moliere to explorernthe ramifications of a Baby Boomer whornsuccessfully dodged the draft orchestratingrna NATO attempt (without congressionalrnapproval and without U.N. SecurityrnCouncil authorization) to pulverize arnsovereign nation back into the MiddlernAges.rn8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn