President 42 Talks Up Area 51

One of the most presidential things presidents can do is be obsessed with aliens.

President Clinton had one demand: “I want you to find the answers to two questions for me. One, who killed JFK? And two, are there UFOs?”

That, at least, according to the story later told by Webb Hubbell, Clinton’s longtime golfing buddy in the ‘90s whom the President was about to name as a deputy to Attorney General Janet Reno. If the President went through with the appointment, he was counting on his confidant to bust open those particular X-Files. Hubbell was later sent to jail for various dishonesties. But while it’s hard to believe everything said by disgraced friends of presidents, it’s not so hard to believe Clinton had an interest in things that are hard to believe.

Just this week, Clinton again hinted he remains more Mulder than Scully, telling ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel that “if we were visited someday I wouldn’t be surprised.” And why not? Perhaps because at the beginning of his second term he ordered a review of the confidential files on Area 51 and “all the Roswell papers, everything.” The truth is out there, and he wanted the truth on his desk by the morning.

Kimmel asked the right question: “If you saw that there were aliens there, would you tell us?” Clinton smiled and said, “Yeah.” Of course he would.

Whether or not there are extraterrestrials, what Clinton learned while in office is something that Ronald Reagan already knew. Even aliens can provide a political opening. At the Geneva Summit in 1985, Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev ducked out of a meeting to have a private conversation, world leader to world leader, as they took a walk outside. That’s when they both saw a UFO: an Unexpectedly Frank Opportunity.

According to Gorbachev, “President Reagan suddenly said to me, ‘What would you do if the United States were suddenly attacked by someone from outer space? Would you help us?”

“I said, ‘No doubt about it.’”

“He said, ‘We too.’”

The human in Reagan was amazed by the prospect of aliens; the politician in him was thrilled by the potential: the enemy of my alien is my friend.