New York Times Op-Ed
ESSAY / By WILLIAM SAFIRE March 28, 1998

Those Sleazy Demo Scum

WASHINGTON -- The Democrats are a bunch of sleazy, sniveling, sniffling scum.

I was surprised to learn that the word "sleazy," meaning vulgar or disreputable, has no known Latin or Greek root, although I came across a reference to the "sleaze" factor in an old Newsweek, and a listing in an adult movie catalogue for an X-rated video titled "Sleazy Rider," but nothing else.

Sniveling, or whining, comes directly from the Latin root, "to sniv," according to the latest edition of My First Dictionary (Golden Books).

Sniffling really shouldn't be in there, but since it is, I believe it comes from the ancient Celtic word for "rear projection theater."

I looked up scum, too, in case you were wondering. It goes way back.

But enough about the Democrats. When I was writing witty put-downs of the left-stooping liberal media for Spiro Agnew back in the late 60's and early 70's (Remember "nattering nabobs of negativity?" That was mine!), I was convinced the red snide (get it?) would be turned back and a new era of enlightened government stewardship by well-meaning, if somewhat flawed, rich white men would stay the course of this country.

And then those bungling idiots made a little too much noise at Larry O'Brien's and it took eight years, and a well-timed hostage crisis, to right the ship of state. My goodness, Moe, Larry, and Curly could have done better, but enough about that.

Today, in my job at The New York Times as the lone right-wing apologist for Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and now Gingrich, I must comment on the current littered landscape of politics. And what do I see? I see a philandering phony on Fen-Phen sitting in the same chair once occupied by Grant, Taft, and Roosevelt (Teddy). Besides spilling a lot of hot mozzarella cheese on the seat cushions, this pizza-packing prexy, who speaks hoarsely but carries a Big Mac, is leading us down the yellow-brick road to moral turpitude.

Now, I'll not pour turpentine on his turpitude, but let's look at a few indisputable facts: First, Clinton drank (not drunk) more coffee during the 1996 campaign than was exported to the United States from Brazil during any 12-month period in the last twenty years. I checked with an International Coffee Importers Industry spokeswoman (I hate the term "spokesperson," it's so vague), and she confirmed my hunch that, in order to raise one hundred million dollars at White House "coffees," Clinton would have had to have drunk (that's right, not drank) three hundred thousand kilos of coffee beans, more coffee than exists in all the world.

Secondly, as if that weren't (not wasn't) enough, his wife is strident and pushy, and has a lot of nerve. And, she's a congenital (I mean congenial) liar, and don't believe her if she says she isn't.

Finally, those snide, snickering spinmeisters who shovel the shaving cream at the White House should remember this: the pusillanimous pundits of today are the pot-bellied prognosticators of tomorrow!

Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company

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