era! I could support. When I replied “Gene McCarthy,” hernsnorted and said he preferred John Anderson, who “when hernwas bought, stayed bought.”rnThe best we can expect from any politician is that he will regardrnhimself as bought, at least in part, by the voters who electrnhim rather than as a wholly owned subsidiary of his funders.rnThe Democrats, by this criterion, usually do better than thernRepublicans. Democrats get elected to office by promising tornspend public moneys on women, racial minorities, the shiftless,rnand the immoral, and—by and large—they keep their promises.rnBill Clinton is the exception, in promising to representrnworking- and middle-class people then turning around, afterrnthe election, to help the homosexuals who had given him money.rnBut, as a traitor to his supporters, Clinton is an amateurrncompared with the Republicans who use the Nixon strategy tornget elected every four years by appealing to white males andrnmiddle-class families. After the election, they turn back, likernthe proverbial dog to his vomit, to corporate tax cuts.rnSelling out ordinary Americans to the rich is bad enough; inrnrecent years, the buyers are increasingly non-American.rnThe worst scandal of our public life is the ease with which overseasrnbusiness interests, multinational corporations, and foreignrngovernments can bribe American politicians into grantingrnthem favors. In many cases, the bribes come straight out of therntaxpayers’ pockets in the form of taxes and higher prices.rnAmerican foreign policy these days sometimes seems like a tugrnof war between Israeli interests and Arab oil interests. The patrioticrnforeigners who buy up shares in the American governmentrnare only playing Realpolitik according to the rules, butrnthere is no reason to vote for anyone who has taken a pennyrnfrom AIPAC, Saudi Arabia, or South Korea.rnAmericans are said to be naive in worrying about the characterrnof our politicians. We are naive, not because we think arnman’s character is an indication of how he will govern, but becausernwe look at the wrong things. If the Clintons have anrn”open marriage,” it means only that they are typical of the post-rnChristian Yuppies who hold the levers of power. If they havernagreed to stay together for the sake of their child—or only forrnthe sake of appearances—then President Clinton is far less culpablernthan politicians like Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, and PhilrnGramm, who trade in the mothers of their children for arnyounger model (the same goes for pro-choice mother of thernyear, Susie Molinari, who also traded up). If they break theirrnvows to their spouses, just imagine what they will do to usrnstrangers.rnIn choosing leaders of a Christian community, St. Paul advises,rnwe should select only men with well-regulated households.rnI take this to include men who wear the pants in thernfamily. We have had enough petticoat government in recentrnyears, and I would not vote for any man whose wife takes morerninterest in politics than, say, Joan Mondale did, fretting aboutrnthe arts, or Lady Bird Johnson, who planted bulbs all over thernDistrict of Columbia, or Pat Nixon, when she stood by her manrnwith grace and dignity.rnMost of these criteria come to a basic question of what ClydernWilson often calls authenticity. An authentic man (I am notrnsaying good, intelligent, or competent), an authentic man isrnwhat he is. If he is an upper-class twit like George Bush, he willrnnot don a cowboy suit and drop the final “g” from his participles.rnTeddy Roosevelt was an aristocrat and did not care whornknew it. If he is a cheap little haberdasher like Harry Truman,rnhe will not put on airs (at least not more than he has to as President)rnlike Jack Kennedy, descendant of bogtrotters, rumrunners,rnand political fixers, and—for all the Kennedys’ culturalrnpretensions—one of the least intellectual men to sit in thernWhite House. In conducting a televised tour of the WhiternHouse in her breathy voice, Mrs. Kennedy came across likernMarilyn Monroe discoursing on Proust. According to a recentrnbook, Kennedy was the best golfer ever to be elected President,rnand yet he had to pretend to dislike playing a sport that was toornobviously a rich man’s game. Nothing is as it seems. GeraldrnFord was probably the greatest athlete to be President, but thernWhite I louse press corps devoted themselves, night and day, torncollecting pictures of an awkward Ford, stumbling over his ownrnshoelaces. Looking back, it now seems like an impossiblerndream that there were once apparently decent (I say nothing ofrntheir intellect or political views) men like Gerald Ford and FritzrnMondale, running for President.rnA telltale sign that a man’s authenticity is wearing thin is thernhabit of speaking of himself in the third person. “Bob Dole’srngonna do this Bob Dole will never do that.” Dole’s handlersrnare working on the problem, but it is clear that the Senator hasrncome to view himself the way John Wayne did near the end, asrna kind of trade-marked property. Clinton is more careful, althoughrnin the 1992 campaign he was fond of referring to himselfrnas “the comeback kid.” Richard Nixon, faced with hostilerncriticism, could not avoid self-objectifieation, telling reportersrnafter he lost the gubernatorial election in California: “Yournwon’t have Nixon to kick around anymore,” and at the height ofrnthe Watergate crisis, “Your President is not a crook.” LyndonrnJohnson was probably less deluded than most crooked politicians,rnand when he told an astonished female aide, whose bedrnhe was slipping into, “Make room fo’ yo’ President,” it wasrnprobably not his ego that was foremost in his thoughts.rnThird-person references are obviously an imperial style, butrnin the case of kings and conquerors, it is a useful device forrnkeeping the sacred person above the fray. Julius Caesar composedrnhis lying Commentaries in the third person, because (asrnone of our editors says) it would have been hard to say somethingrnlike: “I broke faith with a German ally of the Roman people,rnkilled his women and children, and used this slaughter asrnthe pretext for a campaign against the peoples of Gaul whornhave never done us any harm.”rnFor lesser men, this tic has the effect of fiction, like Faulkner’srn”Byron Bunch knows this.” To see yourself as the hero ofrna novel is an adolescent temptation; grown men—apart fromrncelebrities and politicians—eventually come to realize that everyonernhas his own play with his own script, and if he choosesrnto play a supporting role—”one that will do / To swell arnprogress, start a scene or two”—it may not be for the greaterrnglory of Bill Clinton or Bob Dole.rnWhat have I left out? “People who eat peppermint and puffrnit in your face,” perhaps. If I go on in this vein 1 shall turn intornTito Perdue’s Lee, a 72-year old man who goes about the streetsrnbeating the crud out of rude teenagers and illiterate librarians.rnOnly fiction, apparently, can do justice to our age. The timesrnrequire a W.S. Gilbert, and all we get is P.J. O’Rourke. It is notrnthe banality of evil that defines the modern mind so much asrnthe evil of banality.rnI know they throw away most write-in ballots, but if andrnwhen I do vote in 1996,1 am going to write in my own name, tornshow how little I think of the system. Tom Fleming wants yourrnsupport. ‘^rnlO/CHRONICLESrnrnrn