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Article: The most, or least, powerful man in the world?

TitleThe most, or least, powerful man in the world?
Other TitlesA dissenting view of the Clinton affair
Authors
Issue Date1998
PublisherPsychohistory Forum. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.cliospsyche.org
Citation
Clio's Psyche, 1998, v. 5 n. 3, p. 89-90 How to Cite?
AbstractPresident Clinton is the most powerful man in the world. Yet a look at his daily routine poses a serious challenge to this statement. From dawn till dusk his every waking moment is filled with interpersonal tasks in which the power, far from emanating from him, lies with others. He is told what to wear, where to run, whom to meet and what to say. His daily life is bound up in collective forms of decision making, where the balance of power lies more with the other side, even if they be members of his own team advising him. Nominally the most powerful man in the world, in actuality he is so stripped of power that he must virtually ask permission to go to the men's room (and might seek advice on this for security purposes). Even the spatial arrangements of the White House offices with their myriad doors opening into offices with doors which open into other offices make solitude and privacy near impossible. For him, the desire to initiate actions -- any action -- must be sublimated into calls for help, advice, suggestion. Enter Monica. Her story of how she became attracted to Clinton the man is now well known. His is becoming known in fragments, through details he is forced to reveal under various kinds of duress -- again, after taking the advice of others. His account is framed largely in terms of a moral fault, a lapse of judgment for which he claims remorse and forgiveness. This is the line taken by those in the media that seek to judge him, and by the Starr investigation that seeks to uncover a strategy of lying for political gain. But none of these accounts deal with that momentary decision whereby he allowed himself to go from being caught up in a stream of fantastic possibilities -- when he first found himself becoming enamoured of the charms of the young, adulating, Ms. Lewinsky -- to being caught out enacting them. Embarking upon an affair is a hazardous undertaking. Yet thousands of consenting adults do this each and every day. People's reasons vary, but in most instances room is inevitably found for maneuver, of time, and place, and occasion. Although many might confess to being moved by the heart, it is the mind that arranges the timetable. A calculus is quickly set to work, juggling weights in an equation of desire that aims to balance, if only transiently, the libidinal costs (of guilt and the fear of being found out), with the returns (of momentary, joyous, illicit pleasures). Ultimately the equation becomes more complex. Other circumstances get factored in; emotional resources are allotted elsewhere. The affair is brought to an end or moves to a different register as people confront their options and exercise choice. Clinton's affair on this account is not unusual except insofar as he is ordinarily denied the opportunity to make decisions for himself. When an opportune moment came -- albeit with a heavy libidinal investment attached -- in the space between adjacent offices, between consultations with informed counsel, he chose to enact a fantasy. This was a unique act in an environment of otherwise assembled engagement. It would have (and properly should have) remained a private experiment. It was clearly short-lived. One suspects his desire was dissipated as much in the act of realizing that such action -- carefully engineered under the most difficult of circumstances -- was possible, as in the sex itself. This was a desire not frustrated in its aim. In ending the affair with Lewinsky, President Clinton was not indifferent or uncaring but took steps to ensure her continuing welfare and well being. If other forces had not gathered, he might have remained secure in the knowledge that he is capable of the momentary individual act against or in spite of the collective weight of moral exhortation to do otherwise. Perhaps that is clue to where his true Presidential power lies. As it is, he is obliged to mount a daily defense against his critics as his very private affair is subjected to obsessive scrutiny. Once more he is back listening to others, heeding advice, performing on cue. Stripped of power. The most powerful man in the world.
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/89521
ISSN

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorBlowers, GHen_HK
dc.date.accessioned2010-09-06T09:58:05Z-
dc.date.available2010-09-06T09:58:05Z-
dc.date.issued1998en_HK
dc.identifier.citationClio's Psyche, 1998, v. 5 n. 3, p. 89-90en_HK
dc.identifier.issn1080-2622-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/89521-
dc.description.abstractPresident Clinton is the most powerful man in the world. Yet a look at his daily routine poses a serious challenge to this statement. From dawn till dusk his every waking moment is filled with interpersonal tasks in which the power, far from emanating from him, lies with others. He is told what to wear, where to run, whom to meet and what to say. His daily life is bound up in collective forms of decision making, where the balance of power lies more with the other side, even if they be members of his own team advising him. Nominally the most powerful man in the world, in actuality he is so stripped of power that he must virtually ask permission to go to the men's room (and might seek advice on this for security purposes). Even the spatial arrangements of the White House offices with their myriad doors opening into offices with doors which open into other offices make solitude and privacy near impossible. For him, the desire to initiate actions -- any action -- must be sublimated into calls for help, advice, suggestion. Enter Monica. Her story of how she became attracted to Clinton the man is now well known. His is becoming known in fragments, through details he is forced to reveal under various kinds of duress -- again, after taking the advice of others. His account is framed largely in terms of a moral fault, a lapse of judgment for which he claims remorse and forgiveness. This is the line taken by those in the media that seek to judge him, and by the Starr investigation that seeks to uncover a strategy of lying for political gain. But none of these accounts deal with that momentary decision whereby he allowed himself to go from being caught up in a stream of fantastic possibilities -- when he first found himself becoming enamoured of the charms of the young, adulating, Ms. Lewinsky -- to being caught out enacting them. Embarking upon an affair is a hazardous undertaking. Yet thousands of consenting adults do this each and every day. People's reasons vary, but in most instances room is inevitably found for maneuver, of time, and place, and occasion. Although many might confess to being moved by the heart, it is the mind that arranges the timetable. A calculus is quickly set to work, juggling weights in an equation of desire that aims to balance, if only transiently, the libidinal costs (of guilt and the fear of being found out), with the returns (of momentary, joyous, illicit pleasures). Ultimately the equation becomes more complex. Other circumstances get factored in; emotional resources are allotted elsewhere. The affair is brought to an end or moves to a different register as people confront their options and exercise choice. Clinton's affair on this account is not unusual except insofar as he is ordinarily denied the opportunity to make decisions for himself. When an opportune moment came -- albeit with a heavy libidinal investment attached -- in the space between adjacent offices, between consultations with informed counsel, he chose to enact a fantasy. This was a unique act in an environment of otherwise assembled engagement. It would have (and properly should have) remained a private experiment. It was clearly short-lived. One suspects his desire was dissipated as much in the act of realizing that such action -- carefully engineered under the most difficult of circumstances -- was possible, as in the sex itself. This was a desire not frustrated in its aim. In ending the affair with Lewinsky, President Clinton was not indifferent or uncaring but took steps to ensure her continuing welfare and well being. If other forces had not gathered, he might have remained secure in the knowledge that he is capable of the momentary individual act against or in spite of the collective weight of moral exhortation to do otherwise. Perhaps that is clue to where his true Presidential power lies. As it is, he is obliged to mount a daily defense against his critics as his very private affair is subjected to obsessive scrutiny. Once more he is back listening to others, heeding advice, performing on cue. Stripped of power. The most powerful man in the world.-
dc.languageengen_HK
dc.publisherPsychohistory Forum. The Journal's web site is located at http://www.cliospsyche.org-
dc.relation.ispartofClio's Psycheen_HK
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.titleThe most, or least, powerful man in the world?en_HK
dc.title.alternativeA dissenting view of the Clinton affair-
dc.typeArticleen_HK
dc.identifier.emailBlowers, GH: blowers@hku.hken_HK
dc.identifier.authorityBlowers, GH=rp00577en_HK
dc.description.naturepostprint-
dc.identifier.hkuros43803en_HK
dc.identifier.volume5-
dc.identifier.issue3-
dc.identifier.spage89-
dc.identifier.epage90-
dc.publisher.placeUnited States-

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