Time: Tue Oct 14 07:56:48 1997
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Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 07:49:41 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: "Our First Kitsch President" (fwd)

>The Washington Times
>October 13, 1997 
>Our first kitsch president
>By Suzanne Fields
>After you wade through the excuses, the rationalizations, the
>justifications spilling out of the White House over fund-raising
>soirees, an interested observer is left with one rock-bottom perception.
>These guys are tacky. They have no taste. 
>Bill Clinton has trashed the Oval Office with his vulgar schemes
>to trade conversation and coffee, teasing and titillating his visitors
>with eye contact and proximity so they'll eventually pay for the
>pleasure of his company with campaign contributions. Why shouldn't he
>sell the Lincoln Bedroom to the highest bidders? What else is the
>Lincoln Bedroom for?
>Like the bourgeois gentilhomme, the president never acquired the
>ability to distinguish between himself and his acquired possessions and
>power in Washington. His behavior reflects the character of an
>arriviste, a provincial politician who never took time to grow naturally
>into his surroundings and trappings of power, which require taste,
>prudence and gravitas.
>Taste in its original meaning refers to judgment. In England and
>in New England and the Old South, where taste traditionally was more
>important than wealth and power (though these qualities often came
>together) in defining a person's character, "good taste" meant "sound
>understanding." The poet John Keats wrote that "Beauty is truth, and
>truth beauty." There was no distinction between the aesthetic and the
>authentic, the formal design and its moral integrity, the appearance of
>honesty and honesty itself.
>But the word "taste," like its focus, has changed meaning in a
>society of consumerism. Taste today refers only to material surfaces and
>consumption, not profound appreciation for the genuine article.
>Bill Clinton has the taste of an advertising copy writer. For
>years now advertisers have known that "taste" sells. That's why
>designers, once acknowledged for the quality of their style, sell their
>name, writ large across their products, so that those who have no taste
>can think they've acquired it. They buy the illusion of taste. The proof
>is written in two-inch high letters across their bosoms.
>We don't yet know for sure whether the contributors to Bill
>Clinton's campaign got anything in return for their money beyond a
>photograph of themselves with the president, or perhaps an autograph
>writ large. The current defense of the president is that Bill Clinton
>played his guests for suckers. They wouldn't be the first.
>It's not surprising that the White House would rather be
>perceived as incompetent than corrupt. Corruption requires a breakdown
>in acknowledged standards, a fall from principle, which can compel legal
>punishment. Incompetence merely begets condescension: He's the shill
>from Hot Springs, after all.
>Taste is more a taboo subject "than sex or money," writes
>Stephen Bayley, an author of a contemporary book on the subject. Taste
>is incontrovertible. Bill Clinton could no more change his taste than
>rewrite his past. Vulgarity and venality run through his taste in
>friends as well as many of his business and political associates.
>Bill Clinton may be our first kitsch president, displaying a
>spectacular garishness of the spirit. Kitsch derives from the German
>word which means to cheapen. There are all different kinds of kitsch,
>but all have one thing in common -- an element of inappropriateness --
>that which is easily mocked or satirized.
>Arief Wiriadinata, on display as a guest on the tape of one of
>the Oval Office coffees, is the perfect supporting actor of kitsch,
>walking up to the president to say, "James Riady sent me." This is
>dialogue from a bad B movie. For an instant the Oval Office became
>Fast forward to farce as Harold Ickes, the former White House
>deputy chief of staff, testifies before a Senate committee that the
>coffees that raised more than $26 million were not fund-raisers. "There
>was no admission charge," Mr. Ickes says. "There were people who came to
>the coffees who never gave a dime."
>Even the Democrats are beginning to admit to being embarrassed
>by the videos. Every age has its bemused tolerance for kitsch and
>schlock, whether in art objects or music or public behavior. But it's
>not very funny when it trivializes the highest honor the people of the
>United States can bestow.
>Copyright 1997 News World Communications, Inc.

Paul Andrew Mitchell, Sui Juris      : Counselor at Law, federal witness 01
B.A.: Political Science, UCLA;   M.S.: Public Administration, U.C.Irvine 02
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