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Is The Full Moon Blue?

clinton after camp david talks collapse july 25 2000
AP
As if the Democrats didn't have enough problems, their national convention in Los Angeles is taking place under the baleful glare of a full moon. And a full moon in Hollywood is known to have more sinister implications than one anywhere else - except, perhaps, Transylvania.

This is, after all, the community that gave us Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and where, even under normal conditions, gothic excess often passes for routine behavior.

But it is during those brief periods when the moon is at its brightest and fullest that the sap rises to the point where ordinary men turn into rapacious werewolves, and bloodthirsty vampires emerge from their coffins and inflict life-threatening hickeys on their unsuspecting victims.

It is, in short, no time for the squeamish or faint of heart. Which may explain why so much pressure was imposed on Loretta Sanchez to abandon her commitment to the Playboy Mansion as the site for her Hispanic fund-raising event.

No way of knowing for sure what happens to revelers at Hugh Hefner's pleasure dome when party time coincides with a maxima luna. So, given those uncertainties, the Democratic pooh-bahs must have decided that it was best not to tempt fate - or Dracula, if he happened to be in the vicinity.

Still, Sanchez has every reason to resent the way she was treated by the pious defenders of morality who apparently are in charge of this convention. Their high-handed threats and power plays were way out of line.

You would think the Democratic big shots would have shown more respect for a woman who scored such a glorious victory for their party in 1996 when she unseated the bellicose and wild-eyed conservative congressman from Orange County, Robert Dornan. (I shudder to think what happens to him during a full moon.)

The party chieftains who felt it was necessary to put the squeeze on Sanchez better hope she has a short or faulty memory. For it is clear that she is a rising force within the Hispanic community, and that the Hispanic community is an even more expanding force in our national politics.

As for the other target of the snub - Hefner and his bunny-driven empire - there's no need to be concerned about that public humiliation. It comes with the territory Hefner staked out for himself many decades ago.

And of course there's no need to explain - least of all to Hugh Hefner - why the guardians of the Democratic crusade were so skittish about being associated with a party at the Playboy Mansion.

Their great fear is that the mere mention of the word "Playboy" might be enough to make voters think of You-Know-Who. And that is likely to remain a stigma for Bill Clinton even after he leaves the White House.

But Clinton will also be remembered, through the years to come, for the economic accomplishments and other triumphs he cited, with his customary eloquence, in his valedictory remarks to the party faithful Monday night.

Never before, stretching back to the dawn of the republc, has there been a two-term reign in the White House that has been so topsy-turvy, such a breakneck roller-coaster ride. It's almost as if the entire Clinton presidency occurred under the giddy spell of a full moon.

At one end of the spectrum were his considerable achievements, which may yet earn him a place in history as one of our best presidents. At the other end was the reckless and deplorable behavior that led to his impeachment.

More than anyone else, Mr. Clinton reminds me of Frank Skeffington, the main character in The Last Hurrah, Edwin O'Connor's classic novel about urban politics in the early-to-middle years of the 20th century.

Skeffington was loosely based on the colorful and corrupt James Michael Curley, who served as mayor of Boston at many different times from 1914 to 1950.

Although Skeffington had his share of accomplishments as mayor and for decades was loyally supported by his base constituency, his fellow Irish Catholics, he did not always play by the rules - either legally or morally.

Toward the end of the novel, when Skeffington was dying, he was visited on his deathbed by two of his most loyal and longtime deputies. In a sentimental moment, one of them looked down at his stricken leader and said, "Ah, Frank, you've done grand things. Grand, grand things."

"Among others," Skeffington said.

Even Bill Clinton's harshest critics would have to admit that during his time in the White House, he did some "grand things." And even his most fervent admirers would have to concede that in the area of "among others," he was also no slouch.