Posted on January 15, 2012
Bubba Takes The Cake
At last, the Clinton Legacy
Former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier likes Bill Clinton, so there's no reason he would have made up the story he told at the Katzen Center for the Arts, as cited by an article in Washingtonian magazine's Capital Comment Blog. Not that there would be any reason to doubt him, since his anecdote is so quintessentially Clintonian as to practically corroborate itself.
Describing the 42nd president's appetite as "scary," Mesnier told the story of how Clinton gobbled up half a strawberry cake in one evening, and then awoke the next morning expecting more. "No one could find the cake," the story goes, perhaps because someone had gotten the crazy idea that it had been intended for more than one person. "Clinton was pounding on the table and shouting, 'I want my goddamned cake!'"
What an epitaph for the most spoiled, overindulgent, quick-tempered, self-absorbed glutton ever to serve in the Oval Office. If almost anyone else had, for whatever reason, devoured that much in one sitting, that person wouldn't want to look at another piece of cake for weeks. In Clinton's case, having consumed half a strawberry cake only served to remind him of half a strawberry cake. Therefore, he did what to him was only natural, and angrily demanded half a strawberry cake.
This story portrays Bill Clinton as America used to know him, before his post-presidential rehabilitation. His voracious appetite knew no bounds, whether for food, women, money, attention, or practically anything else he could get. Whenever the propriety of his taking those things was questioned, he'd respond with completely unjustified indignation. The Leader of the Free World who pounded the table for more cake was the same man who, in denying the Monica Lewinsky affair, repeatedly thumped the podium while pointing his finger at the American people, as if he was angry at us for interfering with another of his extreme acts of consumption.
Even many conservatives now partake in revisionist fantasies about the Man from Hope, declaring him to have governed as a pragmatic centrist, treating his egomania as at least a partially endearing quality, and, most incredibly, ranking him somewhere other than first among the most prolific liars in American political history. It's not unusual for commentators who were once known to the sniveling class as "Clinton-haters" to now confess that they actually miss the Big Creep. Sure, he's flawed, but he's really an amiable character, they imagine, kind of like H.R. Pufnstuf with a distinguishing characteristic.
Part of the motivation for conservative Clinton nostalgia is to compare him favorably to our current president, which in most contexts is entirely unfair. As philosophically polluted as Barack Obama is, there's no question that Clinton takes the cake in terms of sheer personal awfulness. It was he who facilitated the sale of American missile technology to the Red Chinese, granted clemency to domestic terrorists from the FALN, and twice used his veto pen to defend infanticide, in exchange for a free pass from feminists for his serial abuse of women. Those are just a few of the very worst among an infinite number of examples from which to choose.
Clinton's entire life story has been a relentless exhibition of one despicable act after another, from lying to a Bataan Death March survivor in order to worm his way out of the draft, to selling the tainted blood of Arkansas state prisoners to the Canadian Red Cross, to falsely arresting Billy Dale in the travel office scandal, to attempting to pilfer valuable items from the White House as he prepared to leave, and countless other immoral acts along the way. As if that weren't enough, he also elevated Al Gore to within one underdone pork chop of assuming the presidency.
Even that part of the Whitewater real estate scheme that was unquestionably legal was vile beyond belief. The fine print contained a clause saying that if a buyer missed a single payment, all the money he'd invested to that point would be converted to rent, meaning that the Clintons and their partners would evict him, keep his money, and go find a new investor.
Most people wouldn't care to take a trip through the sewer under Memory Lane with Bill Clinton, but they don't have to, thanks to anecdotes like Mesnier's that capture the former president's life in microcosm. Just picturing the big, furniture-punching boob hollering "I want my goddamned cake," like someone doing a bad Henry VIII impression, tells you everything about him you need to remember.
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