Friday 23 January 1998
For now it's the President's turn, forced to testify not only in answer to Paula Jones' accusations that during his days as Governor in Arkansas he summoned her to his hotel suite, took his trousers down and asked her to perform a sex act, but now Monica Lewinsky's accusations also.
We have yet to reach the final episode of this particular soap, but in the meantime, in much the same way that there is always entertainment laid on in the intervals at football matches in case the attention span of the audience wanders, Hollywood has come up with a means to sustain interest in this particular arena, too.
Or at least that's one way of interpreting the extraordinarily significant timing of a new film just released here called Wag The Dog.
The film is a clever satire about a president who is accused of having sex with an under age girl. Robert De Niro plays the Dick Morris role, a spin doctor who invents a bogus war with Albania in order to deflect public attention.
Presented with the facts that the scandal is to hit the front pages of the newspapers the next day, De Niro boards a plane immediately to LA to join forces with a famous Hollywood producer, played by Dustin Hoffman.
Although unable to prevent the scandal reaching the public eye, they stage-manage their own war so convincingly that the public really do believe that the United States has been threatened by Albanian terrorists and the President becomes such a hero that his dalliances are forgotten.
The story is, of course, complete fiction. Everyone knows the US government would never lambaste an obscure foreign country for their own political gain. They would never manipulate a war in order to come off as the heroes.
It must have just been coincidence that on the day when the President was required to give a deposition in the Paula Jones sex-harassment suit, confrontation with Iraq was reported by all the news media in the US to have intensified and appropriate newspaper columns inches and air time, duly overshadowed all other news.
Of course, it could be that, unknown to the public, a war has quietly been going on for months with Saddam Hussein and the Paula Jones suit has been invented to cover up for the fact that the US is losing.
Who knows anything any more?
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