As president, Bill Clinton presented a great paradox: at the same time, we wanted to know both more and distinctly less about him.
On the one hand, Clinton's private life played out gruesomely on the public stage during the last year of his presidency, and the Starr Report presented entirely too much information about his private habits.
Yet at the same time, Bill Clinton left office still cloaked in mystery. Nobody could figure out what was actually going on in that weird marriage of his, nor could they understand how such a clever man could end up in such boneheaded scrapes with the ladies.
Now, yet another veil of secrecy dangles before us. It is the very important question of his doodles.
Virtually every president since George Washington has doodled, and many of those doodles were collected a few years ago in a fine book by David Greenberg and Cabinet Magazine called Presidential Doodles. But the Clinton Foundation -- the only people the authors could consult at the time of publication because the Clinton Presidential LIbrary wasn't open yet -- refused.
Even more mysterious, our request to the William Clinton Foundation for doodles (we appealed directly to the foundation because the Clinton Presidential Library did not open to the public until 2006) was turned down by Clinton’s press office. We can only speculate why…
And yet just the other day, Bill Clinton told a Daily Intel blogger that “They saved all my doodles from the White House. I do know that. I used to doodle during all the White House meetings and someone thought they were worth saving. Maybe they weren’t bad!”
So where are all of these mythical drawings? According to an archives technician at the Clinton Presidential Library, "We currently have no doodles on display and there are no plans for a future exhibit in the works. As far as I know there are no doodles in our open files at this time."
And yet, as the former president himself suggests, a massive archive of Clintonian doodles exists somewhere. In the absence of any other information, a reasonable person might easily conclude that President Clinton's doodles are so horrifying, so shocking, or so repulsive that it would ruin his legacy forever were they ever to be made public.
Of course, he could put this whole matter to rest by producing this much-rumored doodle archive and giving it a full airing. Until then we are a nation doodling in the dark.