The Midterm Exam

Aug. 21 1998 3:30 AM

The Midterm Exam

Twenty questions for Flytrap students.

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President Clinton has left for vacation and the American people may or may not be "moving on," but Flytrap surely remains. The Speech may have guaranteed Clinton's survival, but it won't prevent more testimony by Monica and Linda, a possible presidential subpoena, a tough report by Starr, and congressional impeachment hearings. So, before Slate heads off on a short vacation of its own, I propose a Flytrap midterm: 20 questions to help keep you busy during the August scandal doldrums. Plenty of mysteries about Flytrap remain. Here's your chance to guess their solutions. (In this test, as in the SAT, you won't know the results for months.)

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1 What did Hillary really know, and when did she know it?

a) Nothing until he told her this weekend. She truly believed him.

b) Suspicions all along but no certainty till this weekend.

c) Everything as soon as the scandal broke in January.

David Plotz David Plotz

David Plotz is the CEO of Atlas Obscura and host of the Slate Political Gabfest.

d) Everything even before the scandal broke.

2. Starr watchers insist he's building a much stronger case against Clinton than a simple sex/perjury allegation. So what is Starr hiding up his sleeve?

a) Evidence of obstruction of justice involving the Lewinsky gifts and job offers.

b) Evidence of suborning perjury involving the "Talking Points." (See Question 5.)

c) Evidence of suborning perjury in the Kathleen Willey matter.

d) Lots more nasty details about Clinton's sex life.

e) Some or all of the above.

f) Something else altogether.

3 Clinton may have denied that he committed perjury in the Jones deposition, because he believes what he did with Lewinsky did not technically violate the definition of "sexual relations. Well, what did Clinton and Lewinsky actually do?

a) Oral sex for him, nothing for her; perhaps skirting the Jones definition.

b) Mutual masturbation, skirting the Jones definition.

c) Oral sex for both, clearly violating the Jones definition.

d) Any other alternative, undoubtedly too icky to be discussed here but clearly violating the Jones definition.

4. What was one, just one, of the questions that Clinton refused to answer?

Insert your extremely graphic question here.

5. Who really wrote the Talking Points?

a) Monica. We mean it.

b) Bill Clinton, dictated to Monica.

c) Bruce Lindsey, dictated to Monica.

d) Linda Tripp.

e) A handsome, mysterious stranger.

6 Why wasn't Clinton more contrite and less aggressive during The Speech?

a) Hillary urged him to fight back, not roll over.

b) He knew Starr wouldn't care how apologetic he was, so he decided to take the offensive and win the PR war.

c) He isn't sorry and doesn't think he lied.

d) All of the above.

7. Who made the first move, Monica or Bill?

a) Monica.

b) Bill.

8. Will Hillary stick with Bill or ditch him like a hot potato as soon as he is out of office?

a) Stick.

b) Ditch.

9 How low must Clinton's approval ratings sink before Republicans pursue impeachment?

a) 70 percent.

b) 60 percent.

c) 50 percent.

d) 40 percent.

e) How can you be so cynical? His poll numbers are irrelevant. They will impeach him if he has committed impeachable offenses, no matter how popular he is.

10. Will the Lewinsky tapes ever be released? If so, will they destroy Clinton's reputation?

a) Yes, yes (because they're so much worse than we imagine).

b) Yes, no (because we have already imagined the worst).

c) Yes, no (because Monica will sound too flaky to take seriously).

d) No, no.

11 Did Clinton's aides really believe his denials? If yes, why? If no, why didn't they quit?

a) No, they really didn't think it mattered.

b) No, they didn't want to embarrass the administration.

c) Yes, they trusted him absolutely.

d) Yes, they never asked.

e) Yes, they were willfully delusional.

12. With whom did Clinton plot cover stories to cover up the Lewinsky affair?

a) With Betty Currie about the gifts and Monica's visits.

b) With Monica about everything.

c) With Bruce Lindsey about everything.

d) With Vernon Jordan about getting her a job.

e) Any combination of the above.

13 What is Bruce Lindsey's role in all this?

a) Knew about affair, did nothing to help or hinder it.

b) Knew about affair, helped hide it from Hillary and outsiders in harmless ways.

c) Knew about affair, helped clean it up in questionable ways (Talking Points, etc.).

d) Innocent bystander.

14. Will Starr subpoena the president?

a) No, Starr got enough on Monday to nail him.

b) No, Starr doesn't want to risk constitutional crisis.

c) Yes, Clinton ducked too many important questions.

d) Yes, just to annoy Clinton.

15 Starr is probably constitutionally barred from indicting the president. Whom will he indict in the Lewinsky matter?

a) Bruce Lindsey.

b) Vernon Jordan.

c) Betty Currie.

d) Bill Richardson.

e) William Ginsburg, just for the hell of it.

f) None of the above.

16. Clinton knew that Monica Lewinsky and Kathleen Willey were out there. So why didn't he settle the Paula Jones lawsuit rather than risk exposure?

a) Paula Jones was actually lying, and Clinton refused to cave to her blackmail.

b) Clinton assumed they would never find Willey and Lewinsky.

c) Clinton assumed they would find Willey and Lewinsky but also assumed Willey and Lewinsky would stay silent, because his women usually do.

d) Clinton is a fool.

17 The Supreme Court permitted the Jones suit in part because it would not distract the president from his job. Would the justices have let the Jones suit proceed if they had known it would produce the Flytrap circus?

a) Yes.

b) No.

18. Does Clinton really believe oral sex is not adultery?

a) Yes.

b) No.

c) "Well, it's complicated ..."

19 According to some reports, only 40 percent of Tripp's testimony was about Flytrap. So what was the rest about?

a) Vince Foster's death.

b) Kathleen Willey.

c) Threats by White House staffers against Tripp.

d) Her secret tapes of other "friends" talking about their sex lives.

20. What gifts did Monica give Clinton?

a) The gold-and-navy tie on the front page of today's New York Times.

b) The blue tie he wore during The Speech.

c) A jack-o'-lantern pin.

d) A copy of Vox.

e) Sexually suggestive tapes.

f) All of the above.

And, for extra credit:

21. What's on that dress, anyway?

a) Semen.

b) Toothpaste.

c) Laundry detergent.

d) Lemon-swirl yogurt.

e) Nothing.

My guesses, for the record, are:

1: b; 2: e; 3: c; 4: anything about the dress; 5: b; 6: d; 7: b; 8: a; 9: c; 10: b; 11: b; 12: e; 13: c; 14: a; 15: a; 16: c; 17: b; 18: c; 19: b; 20: f; 21: a.

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