Clinton cloned: a dastardly deed that duped the world
Never mind Dolly the sheep. The President and his alchemist Dick Morris got there first. John Carlin unpicks the evidence
Sunday 02 March 1997
For the evidence is now overwhelming that there are two Bill Clintons: the sinner, of woman born, and the saint, a brilliant creation of political science.
The Sinner is greedy, gluttonous, lustful, deceitful and power-mad. The Saint is a selfless, compassionate, abstemious, earnest, patriotic family man. The Sinner transforms the White House into a hotel for status-hungry millionaires; he drops his pants for big-haired floozies; he fraternises with roguish bank swindlers; he sells out the welfare mothers and their children to keep the millionaires sweet; he will do anything, but anything, to stay in power.
The Saint talks about building bridges to the 21st century, about feeling the pain of America's poor, about children and about putting people first. He deplores cigarette smoking and, from the bottom of his heart, proclaims, "That is wrong!"
Dolly had Dr Ian Wilmut, the embryologist. Mr Clinton had Dick Morris, the White House spin-meister, image-maker, and election guru variously described as a Rasputin, Richelieu and Merlin. It was through the good spin-doctor Morris's alchemic ministrations that Clinton was able to transform the base matter nature bequeathed him into two-time electoral gold.
Mr Morris left the White House in disgrace last year after it was discovered that he had a weakness for sucking prostitutes' toes at the Jefferson Hotel. But by then the metastasis was complete. Long hours in the Oval Office sucking on the presidential udder had yielded the formula for success in the November 1996 election: as Hamlet said of Claudius, smile and smile and be a villain. And, when the occasion demands it, bite that lower lip, mist over those pale blue eyes.
The cameras caught the original and the clone last year after a funeral service for Ron Brown, the Secretary of Commerce and "close friend" of Clinton the Saint, killed in a plane crash in Bosnia. Clinton the Sinner stepped out of the funeral service laughing his head off at some joke an aide had told him. When he saw that the cameras were upon him, the Sinner stepped back into the shadows and, in the blink of an eye, the Saint emerged in his place, head bowed, his face the picture of grief.
That is the one piece of evidence the Clinton clones have left to science. Otherwise the White House sheep-trick has been pulled off with consistently masterly sleight of hand. The Sinner leads a shielded existence behind closed doors, the Saint is the public face.
But the weakness in this colossal subterfuge was that too many people knew about it. Sooner or later someone would crack or give the game away.
Such a man was John Huang, Clinton's Asian connection, the old Arkansas pal and extorter extraordinaire whose zeal to rake up money from Indonesian magnates, Chinese arms-dealers and Buddhist monks so that Dr Morris could continue his election-winning experiments - the polls, the focus groups - burnt just a little too bright. The reporters found him out and then everything else started to unravel, culminating in last week's revelation that the Sinner had a list in his computer of 355,000 super-rich, super- vain people who could be relied on to cough up 50 or a 100 or more thousand dollars for the chance to spend the rest of their lives reminding everyone they had sipped coffee with the president at the White House.
And there was the memo last week on which the Sinner scrawled the message "ready to start overnights right away". The "overnights" were the 938 superlatively bountiful donors who spent the night at the White House Hilton's two presidential suites, the Lincoln Bedroom and the Queen's Bedroom. Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Jack Nicholson, Barbra Streisand. It was such fun for the rascalous groupie-in-chief: celebrities who your average American would kill to shake hands with actually stayed under your roof and then - wondrously, unbelievably - bought into the whole cloning scam by handing over loads of money and then going out and giving campaign speeches effusively praising the Saint.
When this came out (and more, like the plans to sell flights aboard Air Force One) it was the Saint, of course, who was wheeled out for the cameras. "They were my friends," he told a press conference, hurt, righteously indignant. "I did not have any strangers here."
The clone was telling the truth for, Morris having taken George Washington as his genetic model, he cannot tell a lie. How was he to know that among the friends the Sinner had invited were a Lebanese businessman wanted for embezzlement whom Interpol had spent eight years trying to arrest?
For those in the know it is painful to see the virtuous clone standing there, so genuinely mortified, having to endure the barbs and contumely of the insolent press. It was he, after all, who on Friday had the decency to return $1.5m (pounds 925,000) worth of donations the Sinner had illicitly accumulated. It was he, after all, whom 25 per cent of eligible voters chose as their commander-in-chief in November.
And the pity of it is that though both Sinner and Saint will last their four-year term - unless it turns out that it is true the Chinese government also contributed to the election coffers - historians' memories will not be fond. When the Sinner, who owes $2.3m in legal fees, and Morris were working at their experiments they dreamed they would create a clone that would break into "the upper tier" of American presidents. Alas, that dream has died. The power goes to Clinton, but it is to Dolly that the honour and the glory will belong for evermore.
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