Jewish World Review April 9, 2002/ 28 Nisan, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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The Clinton legacy: Politics of personal destruction | Frank Rich of the New York Times offered up a lengthy piece touting the theory that with Bill Clinton's departure, the "cultural witch hunt" era has ended. He sees David Brock's book, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, as proof that the destructive and misguided right concedes defeat.

Mr. Brock, once a featured writer for American Spectator, allows that he lied after succumbing to the right's might and charm. As a self-confessed member of the vast right wing conspiracy, I can attest that Mr. Brock is mistaken. We have fearsome Charlton Heston, but Moses doesn't do intimidation of milquetoast reporters. Rep. Bob Barr offers a fairly representative cross-section of the charm we house. We have principle and conviction, but no muscle and little in the way of charisma, so Mr. Brock's reasons for lying about the beguiling right are suspect.

Relying on Mr. Brock to establish that the puritanical right was behind the 1990's era of personal destruction is dangerous because Mr. Brock goes back and forth on soul cleansing. The Real Anita Hill is part of his repertoire, but he recanted that book in an Esquire article, "Confessions of a Right Wing Hit Man," which gave him a week of cable news shows. Mr. Brock creates and repents with market cycles.

Mr. Rich despises Brock and the right-wingers. He condemns their modus operandi, but proclaims, via his piece title that, "Ding Dong the Cultural Witch Hunt Is Dead." One phrase illustrates the warmth of Mr. Rich's new era of upbeat existentialism, "It was a time of take-no-prisoners mudslinging in which the Republican right, with no Communists to unmask, launched a disingenuously holier-than-thou moral crusade fueled by a gossip machine of which Brock was an early cog."

No, my pretty, personal destruction lives. Frank Rich spews disdain at those of us who simply discovered what one federal judge, a state supreme court, 2 special prosecutors and every partridge in a pear tree have subsequently found as fact: that Mr. Clinton is a liar extraordinaire, particularly under oath.

Mr. Clinton's life and politics run contra to conservative values, but we attacked for malfeasance, not as malcontents. Clinton droids used the tools of innuendo, fear and whispers during the Clinton years to destroy women, Ken Starr, Kathleen Willey's cat, and anyone else committed to the rule of law. Mr. Rich lived in denial during the Clinton years and his current insight shows that neither he nor the Clintonites have recovered.

They now exceed the two-term limit and are busily blocking Bush judicial appointments using the same vicious process begun by Democrats in 1987 to tank Reagan Supreme Court nominee, Robert Bork. Judge Brooks Smith and Judge Charles W. Pickering are among many Bush nominees for the federal appellate bench who enjoy support from civil rights advocates, women's groups and the ABA, but have been subjected to relentless character assassinations in brutal Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, chaired and controlled by Democrats. The allegations are false, irrelevant, and, well, personal and destructive.

Personal destruction is the Clinton legacy, now spreading beyond politics. Clinton disciples are turning on their own. In the recent murder trial of Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, for the mauling death of Dianne Whipple by their dog, their defense lawyer accused prosecutors of succumbing to pressure from the lesbian community for justice for Ms. Whipple. All you hate crime advocates, mark this well: murder is murder, sexual orientation aside. In this post-Clinton era, accusing the prosecutor of sexual orientation bias is worth a shot.

Hollywood and Clinton remain joined at the hip. This year's Oscar race had Clintonian tactics. A Beautiful Mind became the target of a negative whisper campaign about the film's subject, mathematician John Nash. The whisperers are artistically outraged that the film omitted book segments on Nash's bisexuality and anti-Semitism.

Hollywood glamorizing true stories? Embellishing? Oliver Stone anyone? The crooks that were the inspiration for Dog Day Afternoon didn't look like Al Pacino. Heck, no one in the mafia looks like Pacino, but he saw us through 3 Godfathers. Coal Miner's Daughter glossed over dark details in Loretta Lynn's life. Hollywood does its thing.

A personal campaign against the subject of a film is classic Clinton war room stuff. Professor Nash and his wife, Alicia, appeared on 60 Minutes to halt the Oscar mudslinging. Mike Wallace did the interview, not Steve Croft. Mrs. Nash had more dignity than to hold hands and quote Tammy Wynette, but it was deja vu all over again.

The Clintons are no longer center stage, but they left their script and understudies. Mr. Rich is wrong on both the source of the cultural witch-hunt and its demise. The pitiful politics of personal destruction are alive and well in Washington, Hollywood, and anywhere else the Clintons stomped. Their witch hunt legacy lives.

JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


03/31/02: Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing
03/22/02: Blame Oprah, Rosie, Sally, Ted, David
03/14/02: The costs of women's feeble choices
03/08/02: Botoxic faces
02/28/02: The dangers of organized philanthropy
02/25/02: Don't take the gold
02/14/02: Ease up on the brothers and sisters
02/11/02: Because I was courted
02/05/02: Fat fault
01/24/02: Tolerance does not mean stupidity
01/17/02: Too old too soon
01/10/02: Ethically challenged firms
01/03/02: The year that was
12/27/01: The Twelve Days of inconsistency
12/20/01: Free Speech and the political spectrum
12/13/01: Curbing brats
12/06/01: Power to influence
11/29/01: The disappearing art of grading
11/21/01: The Big Two-Five
11/13/01: You can never find a lib when you need one
11/01/01: Unlucky in sports
10/26/01: An epidemic of counselitis
10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
06/14/01: Which way maverick McCain? An Arizonan's perspective
06/07/01: No stroke of genius
05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
03/23/01: The melt down of the academy
03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
01/19/01: Where have you gone Frieda Pushnik?
12/29/00: The year that was
12/23/00: Litigation: It's the American way
12/15/00: In defense of rhetoric
12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
12/01/00: Liberals' art of trashing of women
11/20/00: Put me out of my misery
11/17/00: On being a statesman
11/13/00: When it's broke, fixing it wouldn't offend the Framers
11/08/00: ELECTION 2000: I SURRENDER
10/27/00: Al in the package? Memo to women: Choosing presidents and husbands
10/20/00: Ten things the gay community should understand
10/13/00: "You Have a Lump."
10/06/00: The government as the pharmacy: Don't
09/29/00: The capacity for truth
09/22/00: Charity with strings and an agenda
09/15/00: The taming of the shrew: Gloria Steinem takes a husband
09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
08/25/00: Conventions: A study in contrasts
08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
07/14/00: The basketball gene and white men not jumping so well
07/07/00: I wanna be around
06/23/00: The liberal conversion
06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
06/08/00: No excuses schools
06/02/00: Oh, Canada: Our Nutty Neighbors to the North
05/23/00: The new mollycoddling coach
05/16/00: On adultery and leadership
05/12/00: Taking your lumps
05/02/00: Elian: There's never a liberal around when you need one
04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
02/29/00: Ditzes in TV Land
02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
01/18/00: Off the Rocker Rorschach Test
01/11/00: Oprah's lemmings
01/04/00: Struggling mightily amidst the comfort
12/23/99: Confused fathers
12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
12/07/99: Turtles and teamsters, side-by-side in Seattle
11/29/99: When conservatives behave badly
11/22/99: Compassionate conservative: Timing and targets
11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
11/11/99: Succumbing to the intellectual child within with the help of crackpots and screwballs
10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
10/14/99: Inequality and injustice: It's the big one
10/05/99: Dan Quayle, morals and schoolyard bullies
09/30/99: The monsters of epidermal parenting
09/21/99: The Diversity Hoax
09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
07/26/99: Of women, soccer and removed jerseys
07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings