Bill Clinton? More like Bill Clits-On
Scandals have a way of capturing our attention, and scandals are a dime a dozen in politics. Opportunities for political power-hungry money-grabbing politicians to find a way to smear everyone who is not them to get ahead.
But no scandal is more famous than Watergate. Nixon and his henchmen’s blatant abuse of power brought forth the first case against a United States president, US vs. Nixon; he resigned before he was impeached.
This scandal is referred to as Watergate. I never thought of where the name came from. Watergate happened before I was born, and now other political scandals are added a ‘-gate’ at the end of it in order to quickly associate a new scandal with the atrocities of the Watergate scandal.
The scandal specifically is known as Watergate because the Democratic National Committee was housed at the Watergate Hotel at the time.
The Watergate is named this way because its beautiful art deco decoration sits right next to the Potomac River; it is a gate to the water even though there is no gate by the water. Everyone gets poetic license when naming things because if you were to be accurate, then Wateradjacent and the Wateradjacent scandal wouldn’t have the same ring to them.
Now, close to seven decades since its occurrence, the hotel has a whiskey bar at the bottom and another one on the roof. They also have set aside the room that the FBI broke into for people to walk around in.
I didn’t get a chance to go to the rooftop, which is the reason my colleagues wanted to go there. The rooftop bar was closed because the wind was close to 40mph. Instead, we went to the whiskey bar downstairs, “Next.”
I’m happy to report that the bar had an impressive international selection of whiskey worthy of the United Nations’ whiskey bar — if the United Nations has a bar at all. It is great to talk about previous crimes with a glass of whiskey neat in your hand.
Besides the mandatory Scottish and Irish whiskeys, they also had a great selection of Japanese ones like Yazamaki, Toki, Suntori alongside the Americans, Von Winkle, Richter’s, Blantons.
A truly diplomatic bar if there was ever one.
I didn’t plan on going to the Watergate. Coming to DC, the only museum I had planned on going to was the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. For all other activities while there, I was going to let other people decide, and I would tag along for the ride.
I wanted to go to this gallery because I had seen Barack and Michelle Obama’s portraits projected at the Art on theMART while walking on the Chicago Riverwalk.
This was a very controversial painting because Trump was the first president to break tradition by deciding not to unveil his predecessor’s portrait.
“For decades, a first-term president has hosted a ceremony in the East Room for the unveiling of his predecessor’s portrait, regardless of party affiliation or criticism between the men.”
The first thing I noticed once I entered the presidential portraits gallery was the smell. I couldn’t tell if the smell was old canvas or being there after lunch with all the septuagenarians and octogenarians roaming those rooms looking at the presidents of their youth.
I’m not a fan of old portraits or of stale farts. It’s not for me.
So I only started to pay attention until I saw Nixon’s painting.
The first thing I noticed was how small it was in comparison to all the others around this painting. Most of the paintings were quite large, but Nixon’s was rather small.
I’m not familiar with the work of Norman Rockwell, so I can’t tell if the size of the canvas was reflective of his work process or if it was a deliberate artistic choice to reflect a man who soiled his career, legacy, and the office of this president by thinking himself above the law.
The next thing I noticed was how handsome Nixon looked. I remember hearing how he refused to use make-up when debating a young JFK and how his TV ratings were not that good because of it. Besides that, if you see pictures, he is not a particularly dashing silver fox. Next to it, you can read a quote from Norman Rockwell stating that when doing portraits he admitted to having erred on the side of flattery. Probably a sound choice knowing what we now know about the disgraced president.
Anderson did a great job with W capturing the childish and playful energy of this president. There he is with his sleeves rolled up, laughing at the fourth wall as if he had just told a peepee fart joke. You get the feeling that when this painter is not paintings presidents, he is comfortably painting Texan prairies, longhorn bulls, cowboy hats, big giant trucks, and oversized Slurpees.
Kennedy’s Presidential portrait was covered in chaotic and aggressive strokes of beautiful emerald green, and at the center, he emerged from them. The plaque explained how the artist spent some time with Kennedy at his beach house and became obsessed with him, and she drew several portraits of him.
I got to Obama and realized the painting wasn’t here but it was on tour. In its place, I had a chance to see the Hope painting (wiki paraphrasing on Hope).
I still have hopes of seeing that painting one day. The same way that I hope Obama will have coffee with me one day.
When I got to Clinton’s painting, the first thing I noticed was its size. It almost covers the entire wall dedicated to it. It is the biggest contemporary painting in the room.
This one was the only painting I had an initial guttural reaction of disgust against it. I am not terribly fond of Clinton but his image doesn’t disgust me. I admire his ascent to the presidency and respect his legacy.
But here is another man who destroyed his legacy over ego, over lack of restraint, over the impulses overtaking him and thinking himself above the law; just like Nixon.
But that didn’t influence my feelings about the painting. The painting in itself is deformed and I couldn’t help but feel an uneasy feeling while looking at it.
Clinton looks like he went a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson and was knocked out. While knocked out, he was attacked by an entire hive of killer bees. Then the corpse spent three days decomposing in the heat of the Africa Serengeti. He looks hurt, bloated, and nursing bruises and cuts all over his face. Then, and only then, was when Chuck Close painted him.
That’s one of the things about art. You can infer, you can make assumptions, and you can hear explanations of what the artist thinks he was doing.
But you never really truly know what was going on? And does it matter about what we can make of it without all the highfalutin bullshit? Was this a stab at the president? What was he trying to communicate something? Was it a reflection of an oversized ego? Was it a man who enjoyed the philandering freedoms of being a president at a time when social media and the #metoo movement weren’t as prevalent as it is now?
We don’t know. We will never know
Chuck Close explains how he came up with the idea. He took a picture from Time magazine and superimposed quadrants through the entire picture; each quadrant is cleverly and uniquely designed on its own to make a collage of sorts that all together will come to resemble Clinton’s face; I’m sorry, Clinton’s distorted face.
The plaque at the bottom of the frames expresses how the gallery is not responsible but is aware of the allegations of sexual misconduct from the artists. Close was also the subject of serious allegations during the #metoo movement. But the language is so generic that it almost feels like they are also apologizing for the trespasses of number 42.
I can’t decide if this was a hypocritical statement or not.
After all, the same plaque can’t be seen next to Kennedy’s, who was infamous for being a womanizer.
You can’t also see it next to Trump’s photo, who holds an impeccable undefeated judo record against vaginas (or pussies as he crassly refers to them in the recording).
As if Trump winning the presidency erased any factual evidence of sexual misconduct.
That plaque is an ironic reminder that some people are, in fact, above the law, and their previous trespasses will be forgiven, while others will forever be remembered for the few minutes of pleasure that ruin their life’s work.
If you come even closer to the painting, you will come to realize that you are not only looking at a depiction of Bill Clinton if he had chosen a career in the circus over politics. But you also realize that you are actually looking at a collage of what can only be described as vaginas and clitoris; quadrants upon quadrants of vaginas and clitoris galore forming the portrait of the United States president.
I can only imagine the internal struggle at the reveal. The president has to act diplomatically and pleased over a painting with vaginas all over his face. I’m sure it came easy to Bill to act like that. After all, you need to have a nice cold spine to lie under oath over an affair you had.
I’m sure it came easy to Hillary to act like she wasn’t upset by this historical reminder that her husband was a dirty dog. After all, you need to have an ice-cold spine to lie under oath about your web surfing habits and go from Yahoo news to your secretary of state email.
I’m not sure what the painter was trying to get at. I’m not sure if this was a symbolic and artistic tip of the hat between two men embroiled in sexual allegations.
As I come to terms with the fact that bill Clinton’s face was reconstructed from quadrants upon quadrants of vaginas, I can’t help but wonder if he was turned on by his face covered in them. As it happens in history and in art, some things we will never be privy to.
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