Doing Kosovo – 4/30/2000

“Can you talk about Kosovo?” the worried MSNBC producer asked me. I’d been scheduled to talk about the downside of celebrity, my specialty, but the NATO bombing had tanked that topic. Our in-depth discussion of Pamela Sue Anderson’s desire to be taken more seriously through removal of her breast implants, my mini-specialty, was postponed, but the studio headquarters in Seacaucus, NJ was short on talking heads so they wondered if I could “do Kosovo.”.

“Of course.”

The car came and on the drive across the river, I called the situation room in the Progressive home office in Madison, Wisconsin to check my talking points with Matt Rothschild. To whit: The war violates international law. The moral argument is hypocritical, otherwise we’d be bombing Turkey one of our NATO allies. Violence begets violence. I was ready.

Luckily my personal interpretation of the Dayton Accords does not require make-up for cable discussions of same, because the Seacaucasians thought I looked fine and besides they were a little short-handed, so moments after I arrived, I was hustled onto the set with my co-panelists. One woman was an expert on the refugee problem. I wondered what she was doing in New Jersey. Another woman was an expert on Yugoslavia, had lived there for ten years, and had interviewed both Milosevic and his wife.

Our segment was delayed by an emergency NATO press conference in which Jamie, the cuddly, condescending NATO spokesman was denying they had used the same cartographers who had missed the wires on those ski gondolas in Italy. As we waited and watched B-roll of thousands of bedraggled refugees pouring across the border, I said to the show host, “I’d bet you’d give anything to be able to talk about Monica’s weight problem rather than this horrible story.” She reared back in Valley-girl horror and snorted, “We are so over Monica.”

Finally, we went on the air, and I was ready with my points. Our host first opined that the whole thing was so sad, then introduced us. She turned to the Yugo-expert and said, “You’ve spoken with Mrs. Milosevic, has she had a facelift, or what?”

That level of discourse prompted me to suggest that Euro-Disney should offer to take in the refugees. They would have shelter, food, activities to fend off boredom and most importantly, an infrastructure.

It seems we are all suffering from severe PMS, post-Monica Stress syndrome. One symptom of the affliction is an inability to take women seriously. In two recent TV specials — sitcoms, no; dramas, yes – Joan of Arc and Cleopatra were portrayed as pouty teenaged girls. The usual blockbuster summer fare known as “Woman as Afterthought Film Festival,” features the entry The Phantom Menace, the Lukas film, not NATO this time, and Natalie Portman’s dramatic personae is her hairdo. Madeline Albright has to don a bomber jacket and a cell phone on the cover of Time magazine to get press coverage in her role in You’re a Male. Mrs. Dole is dissed by her Viagra-swilling and shilling help-meet for whom she’d dragged her hyper-planned self around the country.

Another symptom of our national PMS is the severe emotional detachment. It prevents anyone from remarking on the irony of the President decrying gun violence in schools as he continues to stay the course on bomb violence in Serbia. And just once I would like one of the many school shootings experts to point out that every single shooter has been a young man. The New York Times Magazines did a special issue called “Women: The Shadow Story of the Millennium” which allows them not to do another cover story on women until the year 2220. In their previous Top 100 of the Mill lists, women comprised only about ten per cent of the greatest inventors, movers and shakers of the last ten Cs.

Although I’ve been regularly toting, then tossing most magazines’ mill-grams, I carefully read the entire Times’ The Shadow Knows Special on Women. Okay, I didn’t. I found it on line, typed in the word “lesbian” and hit the Find button on the tool bar of my p.c. The word was highlighted three times and the coded “same-sex” was used twice. Five glancing references to lesbians in this millennium. One would hope for more from the Sunday Magazine since the editor in chief is a gay man.

Another manifestation of our National PMS is the tendency to experience flashbacks. New York especially claims it is loath to relive the Clinton trauma, but if the Hillary Clinton vs. Rudolph Gulianni race for Senate materializes and there are no Jerry Springer-like hair-pulling cat fights there are going to be some very disappointed New Yorkers.

Depression is another hallmark of post-traumatic stress syndrome. How long does it take St. Johnswort to kick in?

Bill Kate “Darth” Clinton is a humorist.