"Batty" women blamed for Clinton's troubles

By Stephanie Herman
Originally published in Enter Stage Right

Let's hope President Clinton isn't dumb enough to follow through with the latest Lewinsky defense Gene Lyons tested on the American public last month.

In an appearance on NBC News' Meet the Press, Lyons assured Tim Russert that Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky "could be an entirely innocent affair." That's not a surprising take for Lyons, a Little Rock friend and staunch supporter of Bill Clinton's, as evidenced by his columns that appear in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

What is surprising is that Lyons would dare to further insult the feminists by suggesting that Clinton's problems with Lewinsky were the result of women who act "batty" around him. Yes, batty.

And he wasn't just referring to Monica. "I'ím not talking about her personally," said Lyons, "Iím saying thatís a prediction." A prediction about women in general, or as Lyons qualified it, "an irreducible number of women." A cross-section of women Lyons believes swoon at the mere sight of President Clinton and who would find him attractive "if he came to fix their garbage disposal."

With this sexist remark, Clinton supporters make yet another mockery of his alliance with feminism. As if the women of America can't fix their own garbage disposals! And as if the women of America, the same ones who voted for Bill Clinton, would be home when a garbage disposal repairman came round -- they'd be at work, where all proper feminist women should be!

Lyons went on to blame someone, it's not entirely clear who, for making Clinton the "Alpha Male" of America. "If you take someone like the President... and you sexualize his image with a lot of smears and false accusations so that people think he's Tom Jones or Rod Stewart, then a certain irreducible number of women are going to act batty around him." Lyons seems to be painting the female gender with a pretty broad stroke, suggesting women are nothing if not susceptible to the sexual persona of a man. I wonder what Patricia Ireland may be muttering under her breath.

The cherry on top came with Lyons' implication that once women begin to act "batty" around the President, you're bound to end up with a stalker or two on your hands -- "rather like the woman who followed David Letterman around." The stories do diverge somewhat, though. Letterman's stalker illegally entered his house without signing in, and there were no allegations that Letterman gave his stalker gifts of any kind.

And what about the hugs? We've all seen videotape of Clinton embracing Lewinsky in public. Would he really reach out that way, repeatedly, to a woman Lyons described as Clinton's victimizer?

Well, it's not the only defense friends and spokesmen of the White House will, as they say, run up the flagpole to see who salutes. But we can deduce one thing from this latest bizarre attempt: Bill Clinton is getting rather desperate for ideas.