Flytrap's Trashy Books

Politics and policy.
Sept. 5 1998 3:30 AM

Flytrap's Trashy Books

We read 'em so you don't have to.

(Continued from Page 1)

Coulter argues ad hominem: Clinton's China satellite policy was "treason." He is "The Manchurian Candidate" and a "horny hick." Clinton doesn't allow alcohol in the Oval Office because "it might interfere with his potency." She says Newsweek's Eleanor Clift has gone "beyond the call of duty to earn [her] presidential kneepads."

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High Crimes is painfully shoddy, even for a book rushed to press. Misspellings are commonplace. Quotes are muffed: Clinton's most famous comment, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," is rendered "I never had sexual relations with that woman." Entire paragraphs are repeated, nearly word for word, in different chapters of the book. Coulter claims to lay out the facts against Clinton, but it's hard to trust her: In I happen to know something about, she grossly misrepresents evidence to make Clinton look worse. Coulter's legal scholarship is so repetitious and garbled that it's hard to puzzle out her definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors." It's as though the book was not edited at all.

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3 Psychobabble:

I did not think a book could be any worse than High Crimes. Then I encountered Jerome Levin's--whoops, I mean, Dr. Jerome Levin's--The Clinton Syndrome. Psychotherapist Levin's ostensible purpose is to use Clinton's problems to bring attention to sex addiction. His underlying purpose seems more cynical: to get his shoddy little book stocked in both the political and self-help sections.

To these ends Levin has written a psychological profile of the president as sex addict. According to Levin, the root of Flytrap is Clinton's "hang up." As the child of an "enabler" and a "rageaholic," as well as an "ACOA (Adult Child of Alcoholics)," Clinton became a chronic "musterbator," a boy who overachieved in order to win the "unconditional love" that was missing at home. He sought it in power, in the love of the crowd, and especially in casual sex. But all were poor substitutes for true love and didn't vanquish his feelings of inadequacy and guilt. The deaths of Ron Brown ("an older-brother figure" to Clinton), Yitzak Rabin ("an important father figure"), and his mother (a mother figure?) made Clinton vulnerable to Lewinsky.

"The more I thought about it," writes Levin, "the more I realized that Clinton had about as much chance of leaving her alone as a cocaine addict has of passing up a line." Clinton deserves sympathy and compassion, not vitriol, because he exercises no control over his compulsive sexual behavior. Straight-faced conclusion: Clinton should hold "SCA (Sexual Compulsives Anonymous)" chapter meetings at the White House, thus inspiring millions of other Americans to overcome their addictions.

Never mind that the very existence of sex addiction is questioned by most respectable shrinks. Never mind that Levin's profile of Clinton is constructed from a papier-mâché of A.M. Rosenthal columns and episodes of Charlie Rose. Never mind that The Clinton Syndrome is filled with gobbledygook such as "Let us sum up Bill Clinton's early childhood influences in terms of bio-psycho-social determinants." (Let's not and say we did.) Never mind that it's even more badly edited than High Crimes. Never mind that this flimflam is padded to book length with 100 pages of irrelevant stories about other addicts. It doesn't matter. This is Flytrap's moment. Arianna Huffington is touting Levin on the air, and his book is stacked high by the register at my local Borders.

The sidebar on Bill Bennett's self-righteousness is. The sidebar on how Ann Coulter misrepresents a Clinton story is.

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