President's women disagree over the honourable member

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The Independent Online
Under other circumstances, it might be regarded as the ultimate female put-down: a lady named Gennifer Flowers has come forward to say that the self-styled leader of the free world has no particular distinguishing mark around his private parts. To President Clinton, however, her "revelation" - and a few more in the same spirit - could bring at least temporary salvation.

For Ms Flowers, whose claim during the 1992 presidential campaign to have been Mr Clinton's mistress has never been denied by the president, may be well qualified to know.

Interviewed on a national radio programme about the ongoing saga of the President and Paula Jones - who alleges that Mr Clinton made improper advances in an Arkansas hotel room six years ago - Ms Flowers did as much as she could to rescue the president.

Would he have done a thing like that? said the woman immortalised as Gennifer with a G: "I find it hard to believe that he would drop his pants and expose himself to someone who had not clearly let him know that that's what she wanted him to do."

And of perhaps Ms Jones's strongest suit, her sworn testimony (several copies of which have been deposited for safekeeping across America) that Bill Clinton - then governor of Arkansas - had "distinguishing characteristics" in the genital area, Ms Flowers said: "I have no idea what she means by that ... There is no mark there that I remember."

Now memory is a fickle thing, as Mr Clinton's $450-an-hour lawyer, Robert Bennett - who says the President has no recollection of any encounter in an Arkansas hotel room - well knows. Nor does her reply disprove Ms Jones's claim. Only a medical examination of the president can do that but his lawyer says that is a humiliation he will fight up to the Supreme Court to prevent.

Temporarily, though, in a Washington that now sees sex wherever it used to see Reds, Ms Flowers' intervention could help to calm the mood. It could also help Mr Bennett. He emerged clearly shattered from a meeting with Mr Clinton earlier this week, and went on all the talk shows to take back the threat he had issued three days before to delve into Ms Jones's sex-life.

Whatever happened that day at the White House - and no one suggests it was anything improper - Mr Bennett is now of the view that an investigation of Ms Jones's earlier career is in no one's interests. Was he told it could then be open season on the president?

Enter, right on cue, Ms Flowers. Her silence since 1992 has often prompted speculation about a deal. But perhaps she just loved him.