Bill Clinton's secret emerged in every last mortifying detail—every last lifelike detail, the livingness, like the mortification, exuded by the pungency of the specific data.... Ninety-eight... [was] the summer of an enormous piety binge, a purity binge, when terrorism—which had replaced communism as the prevailing threat to the country's security—was succeeded by cocksucking, and a virile, youthful middle-aged president and a brash, smitten twenty-one year-old employee carrying on in the Oval Office like two teenage kids in a parking lot revived America's oldest communal passion, historically perhaps its most treacherous and subversive pleasure: the ecstasy of sanctimony. In the Congress, in the press, and on the networks, the righteous grandstanding creeps, crazy to blame, deplore and punish, were everywhere out moralizing to beat the band... all of them eager to enact the astringent rituals of purification that would excise the erection from the executive branch, thereby making things cozy and safe enough for Senator Lieberman's ten-year-old daughter to watch TV with her embarrassed daddy again. No, if you haven't lived through 1998, you don't know what sanctimony is.... It was the summer when a president's penis was on everyone's mind, and life, in all its shameless impurity, once again confounded America.Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here. Read this tag to see all of them.
—Philip Roth, The Human Stain (2001)