Clinton faces the force of darkness

our next appointment is here, Mr. President.
“Send them in, Betty.”
The Horned and Cloven One stepped into the Oval Office.
“Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m a man of wealth and taste,” he said.
This was going too far, the president thought. Kenneth Starr would enlist anyone to gain access. “I’m sorry. I have no recollection of making an appointment with you, Mr., Mr. …”
“Mephistopheles,” the figure replied. “But you can call me Scratch.”
“I’m sorry, you’ll have to leave.”
“But I’m one of your biggest donors,” the diabolical angel said.
“Don’t you remember me from your last coffee? You told me you were thankful that my likeness doesn’t show up on videotape. Surely you must remember.”
“I’m sorry, but there is no relationship between us,” Clinton said.
But the recognition was undeniable.
“Well, you certainly should remember the contract you signed with me when I convinced your wife to lie about Gennifer Flowers.”
The president stopped cold. A smoking gun was the last thing he needed from Hell’s Independent Counsel. “Tell me what you want.”
The Prince of Wails took a chair, took off his orthopedically correct slippers and lit up a Kamel Red. “I have been very disappointed with you,” he said, blowing smoke in the president’s face. “Six years into your contract, you have proven to be an extraordinarily ineffectual servant to me. Your nation is at peace, many of your people are prosperous, and you weather crisis after crisis without catastrophe.”
“That is because I believe in the integrity of the American people. And the American people believe in mine.”
“Aw, hogrot!” Lucifer replied. “No one believes in your integrity.”
“Look at the polls. More than half believe you are an adulterer, most disagree with your war-making policy and Wall Street tolerates you because you stand idly by as they plunder. Not that I disapprove of adultery, war or greed,” said the Prince of Darkness as he exhaled smoky black halos into the rarefied White House air. “But the least you could do is wreak mayhem upon the land.”
“I feel your pain, Mr. Scratch,” Clinton said. “But I must stand by my integrity as an official elected by the American people. Now, for 40 days I have been in a political wilderness. My enemies are attempting to undermine my role as a public servant. My friends have been subjected to the scourge of public vilification. I have returned from a meeting with my close friend Vernon Jordan, and we need our privacy and our space to make this country go forward. And could you please put out that cigarette? The health of our nation’s children is at risk.”
“BAH!” shouted Satan as he bellowed fire across the room, ruining a pen owned by Aaron Burr and singeing the fur of Socks, the presidential cat (who, being a cat, had nuzzled close to Beelzebub, sensing a kindred spirit). “You would sell your soul for public approval! But what you forget is that your soul is mine! You must irrevocably betray the public trust! You must be clearly shown as the hypocrite you are! No more comebacks! No more evasive language! YOU MUST SUCCUMB TO THE FLAMES!!!!”
Suddenly, a gaggle of giggling 20-somethings approached the president. They all had big hair and big teeth. “All interns,” the Tempter taunted. “If you are truly the leader of the American people, they will forgive you for taking these women to bed.”
Clinton knew he was being tested. He glimpsed a video camera. He ogled those who were before him. Surely they would all lie for him — under oath. The mind was strong, but the flesh …
The president firmed his resolve. Turning to the fallen angel, he said, “While it is written that One shall not live in bed alone,’ my actions must be done in consideration of the American people.”
Screwtape was livid. Who did this guy think he was? Despite his reputation as a fornicator, it was clear that Clinton would not break when he knew he was being watched. Perhaps another of the president’s weaknesses — his hope for a historical legacy would do the trick.
“MILINDUSTCOMRIALPLEX!” screamed Satan, and instantly he and the president were standing on the roof of the Pentagon.
The devil showed Clinton all the nations of the world, their instruments of death aimed at the Holy Land. “To you I will give the glory and authority of bloodshed, for it has been given to me, and I give it to anyone I please. Worship these weapons, and all will be yours.”
Clinton hesitated. There were tyrants in the Holy Land, tyrants he wanted to stop. He could see a mustachioed man sticking his tongue out and waggling his hands at the president. Clinton’s knees became weak. He hated challenges to America’s authority as the world’s policeman. He was about to bow down and worship. War was always the best way to gain a legacy.
But from the heights he heard voices, in town meetings, on college campuses and all over America. They were telling him to stop. And for the moment, he turned the weapons away and denied the temptation. “It is written in the press,” he said, “Be true to the people, and serve only them.”
Satan ululated in blind rage. The president couldn’t be pinned down in an affair. He couldn’t be drawn into war. How else was misery to envelop the planet? He made his final effort.
“TSKABNAIRBESIARP!” he bellowed, taking Clinton to the top of the Washington Monument. He showed him Asia, reeling in crisis. “The contagion will spread,” he said. “You must throw down trade barriers to protect your nation. For it is written, Wall Street will command its brokers to protect you, so that you do not dash your popularity in a recession.'”
But Bill remained firm. “Do not put our economy to the test. Bring in the IMF.”
The Prince of Darkness threw back his horns in frustration. “You continually lead your people to the brink of disaster, and then you pull them back. You are a frustrating servant, President Clinton.”
“The American people probably think so too,” the president replied. “But we’ve held off disaster, and as long as we keep doing that, they won’t mind the close calls all that much.”
Satan grew red with fiery anger. “You will remain in my sight!” he cried as he departed. He would return at another opportune time.
“Mr. President, your legal team has been waiting outside for an hour now. Don’t you want to meet with them?”
“Uh, sure.” The stress was wearing on him. Economic crises, war threats, scandals. Now he was fantasizing about encounters with the Evil One. “Bring them in.”
Seeking solace, he reached down to pet Socks, the presidential cat. Snnt! hissed Socks, scratching the president’s hand. Clinton looked down and saw a cigarette butt on the floor. He saw his cat’s charred fur, and a never-before-seen fiery gaze in the First Cat’s eyes.
The right-wing conspiracy was everywhere.
Alan Bjerga’s column runs Wednesdays in the Daily. He can be contacted at [email protected].