Clinton Said: ‘I Feel Like a Character in a Novel’
This is an excerpt from the testimony of presidential advisor Sidney Blumenthal.
Blumenthal: I was in my office and the president asked me to come to the Oval Office. I was seeing him frequently in this period about the State of the Union and Blair’s visit. So I went up to the Oval Office and I began the discussion and I said that I had received--that I had spoken to the first lady that day in the afternoon about the story that had broke in the morning and I related to the presidency my conversation with the first lady and the conversion went as follows:
The first lady said that she was distressed that the president was being attacked--in her view, for political motives--for his ministry of a troubled person. She said that the president ministers to troubled people all the time, that he has ministered to--and he does so out of religious conviction and personal temperament. She said to me on that occasion, “If you knew his mother, you would understand it.”
As a matter of fact, I did know his mother and once spent a whole day with [her] in Arkansas as a reporter and I do understand it. She was a very open-hearted person.
And the first lady said he had done this dozens if not hundreds of times with people; the president came from a broken home and this was very hard to prevent him from trying to minister to these troubled people.
So I related that conversation to the president. And told him my opinion because it is my duty to offer him candid and frank advice. And I said to him that I understand that you feel this.
Q: Feel what way?
A: That you want to minister to troubled people, that you feel compassionate, but that part of the problem with troubled people is that they’re very troubled and you were able to do this before and I know you’ve done this since with many people--and I know of these incidents, I know of--and they’re not done for publicity at all.
I know of a woman in Arkansas who claims he saved her from suicide by helping her out. I said, “However, you’re president and these troubled people can just get you in incredible messes and you just--I know you don’t want to, but you have to cut yourself off from them.”
And he said, “It’s very difficult for me to do that, given how I am. I want to help people.”
. . . He said, “Monica Lewinsky came at me and made a sexual demand on me.” He rebuffed her. He said, “I’ve gone down that road before, I’ve caused pain for a lot of people and I’m not going to do that again.”
She threatened him. She said that she would tell people they’d had an affair, that she was known as the stalker among her peers, and that she hated it and if she had an affair or said she had an affair then she wouldn’t be the stalker anymore.
And I repeated to the president that he really needed never to be near people who were troubled like this . . .
And he said, “I feel like a character in a novel. I feel like somebody who is surrounded by an oppressive force that is creating a lie about me and I can’t get the truth out. I feel like the character in the novel ‘Darkness at Noon.’ ”