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R. Emmett Tyrrell
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.
10 Jul 2014
What the Obituarists Never Said About Dick Scaife

WASHINGTON — On the day after his 82nd birthday, on Independence Day to be precise, a giant passed away,… Read More.

3 Jul 2014
Nazis at the Beach

BOSA, SARDINIA — That is right, you read "Bosa, Sardinia." Well, you might ask, how did I get into this … Read More.

26 Jun 2014
Breakfast With a Doctor

WASHINGTON — A couple of weeks ago, I was lured from my customary solitary breakfast to dine with Dr. … Read More.

The Playboy Presidents


WASHINGTON — I have been vindicated! For years I have been comparing the Clinton family to the family of Warren Gamaliel Harding, our 29th president and a president of dark memory at least to most liberal historians. For me, Warren was sheer slapstick, as to some degree his modern-day equivalent was, Bill Clinton. And forget not their gruesome wives.

I began my historical comparisons in the 1996 bestselling book, "Boy Clinton: The Political Biography." For years, I punctuated my syndicated column with references to the two families. Then in my 2007 book, "The Clinton Crack-Up," I clinched the comparison in a reminder of how that Little Rock monstrosity, the Clinton Library, compared so favorably with the Harding Memorial in Warren's hometown, Marion, Ohio. But now, you ask, how am I vindicated? Well, America's historical memory is not very strong. Comparing Bill with a 1920s president to a modern American audience was not easy. Yet, by month's end it will be much easier. In fact, the comparison will be inescapable.

On July 29, the Library of Congress is putting on display a goldmine of romantic letters Warren wrote his mistress from 1910 to 1920, Carrie Fulton Phillips. He later had other gals, most notably Nan Britton, while he was president. Yet no letters from these affairs are extant. The Phillips letters are voluminous and very steamy. In fact, one cannot read them without being reminded of Monica Lewinsky's testimony in the Starr Report. They are that salacious. Boy would Warren have had a good time with Monica.

Of course, we only have Warren's reminiscences of his recent assignations with Mrs. Phillips, but that is enough to convey what took place in a dark hotel room or under an elm. He names his private part. I will encourage my readers to attend the Library of Congress exhibit by not betraying my knowledge of it. He names Mrs. Phillips' private parts while describing her other physical attributes. It is my judgment as a presidential historian that nothing quite like the Harding letters have ever escaped from a president's confidence, save the Lewinsky testimony.

I am vindicated!

As I have written, the comparisons between the Hardings and the Clintons are inescapable.

Both the Clintons and the Hardings came from rural parts, albeit Harding had a more exalted pedigree. Both couples included a clever, assertive and forbidding wife who had displayed above-average competence in business and in politics. Both families were compact; the Clintons had one daughter, the Hardings had no children.

Both presidents were personable and charming to the fair sex, whose nicely turned ankles fetched their wandering eyes. When not boldly at the helm of the ship of state, both presidents vigorously pursued the masculine pastimes of their day, golf and poker for Harding, golf and jogging for Clinton.

Harding, of course, was less driven than the Boy Governor of Arkansas and obviously more dignified. He had a better tailor. He seemed to age more gracefully and less abruptly in office until he suffered a heart attack while in San Francisco where he died. Then, too, while alive Harding was freer of scandal. History remembers Harding as an amiable bungler whose scandals were revealed only upon his death. Clinton's blunders began early and the shadows of scandal crossed him earlier still. Moreover there were witnesses to his scandals, a lot of them.

Bill, aside from his scandals and pratfalls, presided over a relatively prosperous and peaceful presidency, owing in part to his cooperation with Republicans, particularly Newt Gingrich's House of Representatives. Remember his boast that "the era of Big Government is over"? Surprisingly, today we recall Warren's presidency as prosperous and peaceful, too. Amity Shlaes, in her book, "Coolidge," recalls that he cut taxes, cut federal spending, got the economy going again and ended his predecessor Woodrow Wilson's excessive regulation of the economy. Also he endorsed African-Americans' rights.

So I am vindicated in my comparison of Clinton and Harding, and one other thing. I would welcome either of them back in the White House today to replace Barack Obama, who is not very funny.

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



1 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... Vindicated may be fine for you, but desicated would be more entertaining for me... See if you can arrange that...
It sounds to me like Mr. Harding must have been a republican... The way they preach public morality and practice private immorality is really offensive, and is an insult to their voters... I am not sure it would mean all that much if they knew... Their churches have their own desire for political power, and their own problems with private morality, and their sheep like sheep, never seem to mind... There is always the possibility that the republican party knows the republican voter only too well, and they appeal to the envy those voters feel for the free, and the displaced self hatred they feel over their own frustrated desires...
Look at you, reading and thinking about people long dead in the act of consigning their souls to hell... What's wrong with you???... Maybe you can imagine poor Marilyn Monroe, dead and rotten, posing nude... What dead people did always gives me the creeps, and creeps seem to like it...
Here is something for you to remember... People never change, and it is because they cannot... Still, there would not be a bit of human progress if people could not adapt to a changing reality by changing their forms, like their forms of dwelling, forms of economy, form of government; and etc.. Anthony and Cleopatera, Romeo and Juliet are too common in history to note; but the lovers of liberty are too few beside the many loving power- to notice...
It is inevitable that every advance in the human condition will be taken advantage of by those who only want to turn everything to their individual gain... People do not know what they are doing... Humanity is entirely myopic... A few people can advance the clock for humanity and see real progress, and while people enjoy the good that grows out of change, others see only opportunity for wealth and power...Harding was clearly aware of what it was about...
For real men it is always about the girl... For unreal men it is about the boy... In any event, when there is so much pain and poverty, political power means wealth and pleasure... In no time the rich are bumping their uglies on the poor girl of their dreams while the wife of their nightmares glooms in the background... That is just the start... The rich will never rest, never be happy until they can reduce everyone not rich to such an animal state that love, affection, intimacy as the treasures of a few are but a meal ticket on the train to hell...Could it be that they are trying to breed a totally disposable person who will serve them, and then die on command when used???
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:16 PM
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