Bill Clinton hated me

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I met Bill Clinton in 1999.

It was just a handshake/10 second photo sort of thing, but I remember it very clearly. I was 18, had disheveled hair, and was wearing a bow tie. Clinton shook my hand and said, “I like your tie.” It made me feel pretty good.

About eight years later, I was talking to a friend who worked in Washington who let me know that I’d missed the subtext. David Maraniss in his book The Clinton Enigma explains that Clinton used to compliment people’s ties when he actually meant “F*** you.” Apparently, it was a way to relieve stress without offending. As a politician you really can’t yell at people, but it feels good to tell the loathsome that you hate them, even if only in code. A tie compliment is the perfect code since just about everyone will read it as sincere.


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