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Jewish World Review /Feb. 26, 1999 /10 Adar 5759


Mugger Hillary, Juanita
& Rudy Kazootie

TRUE, BILL CLINTON RESTRAINED HIMSELF publicly after his acquittal, and there was no Andrew Jackson-like open bar at the White House, but for sheer nauseating spectacle, the Hillary-for-Senate boomlet was a sufficient substitute for the First Couple gloating over the cowardly vote in Congress’ upper chamber.

Question: When is the President going to give up his JFK impersonations? You’d think after all the disgrace in his administration, his teenage lust for Hollywood celebrities (and their checkbooks) and the failure to neutralize Saddam Hussein, Clinton would give it up. But no: Last week, in a paraphrase of JFK’s calculated but charming remark about playing second fiddle to Jackie in Paris, Clinton said, "I will increasingly be known as the person who comes with Hillary to New York."

Danny Hellman
Also last week, while mocking Time correspondent James Carney, who typifies the Beltway’s elite corps of reporters, I suggested a Hillary campaign was likely. Now, seven days later and after a barrage of print and television coverage on a Hillary-Rudy Giuliani faceoff, I’m inclined to agree with Carney that Ms. Rodham won’t run.

(Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if Carney’s changed his mind too; that’s how volatile the notion is right now.)

Although most of the Hillary stories are dripping with partisan sympathy, the reality is, as Pat Caddell bluntly said on Hardball Feb. 15, "She’s going to get her clock cleaned if she runs." And now that the post-impeachment parties are over, and the media has decided that since they’ve saved the Constitution it’s fair game to attack the President again, Hillary isn’t likely to be helped by two more years of his administration. Last weekend was just the beginning of the post-Monica era for the Clintons.

Jonathan Alter, in his March 1 "Between the Lines" Newsweek column, made a lot of sense about a possible Hillary candidacy. His advice: Don’t do it.

"The real problem for Hillary," Alter writes, "is her record. She doesn’t have one. With health care a failure, she has nothing solid to show for her years as First Lady. And she lacks the political instincts to make it seem as if she does. All talk, no action." Alter’s possible alternative, in counseling Hillary, is to make a 2004 run against Peter Fitzgerald in her native Illinois. "Until then, both Clintons should, as Eleanor said of JFK, ‘show a little less profile and a little more courage.’ They’ve got the political capital; now is the moment to spend it." I don’t agree with Alter’s concluding sentence because...

Dorothy Rabinowitz’s op-ed piece in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, in which she outlined the case of Juanita Broaddrick (Jane Doe No. 5) against the President, shocked the mainstream world that doesn’t pay attention to Matt Drudge. The Internet journalist had the story weeks ago that NBC had censored Lisa Myers’ exclusive interview with Broaddrick—who says General Electric can’t be intimidated by the White House?—that was scheduled to air on Jan. 29, during the Senate impeachment trial.

(So much for the hapless Steve Brill’s comment in his magazine Brill’s Content that Drudge is a bust in the "scoops" department.)

Rabinowitz, who admitted she’s not a news-gatherer, nonetheless obtained an interview with Broaddrick in Van Buren, AR, where the successful nursing home operator lives on a 40-acre plot of land, "where 30 cows, five horses and a mule roam... It is a good life all right."

Broaddrick, who’s never solicited tabloid or book-deal lucre, told Rabinowitz, and then reporters for The Washington Post in a front-page story that came out Saturday, about the incident one more time. In 1978, she alleges, she was working on Bill Clinton’s first gubernatorial campaign, and the then-Arkansas attorney general got her alone in a hotel room and raped her. As he was leaving, he put on his shades and said, "You better get some ice for that," in reference to her lips, which he’d bloodied during the encounter.

This story, now with a mainstream pedigree—and which may yet cause NBC News president Andrew Lack to be fired for withholding it over Washington bureau chief Tim Russert’s objections—won’t die yet.

On the subject of envy, Timothy Noah, a former Journal reporter who worked at U.S. News & World Report to worship at the feet of editor James Fallows, and then left in solidarity when Father Fallows was fired, wasn’t pleased with the Rabinowitz piece. Writing in the online Slate (free again: a move that won MUGGER 10 beans from an ex-NYPress employee), Noah objected to Rabinowitz’s "dotty non sequiturs" and complained, upon discovering a possible conflict of interest with one of Broaddrick’s four corroborators, that had he written the story for the Journal his superiors would’ve given him a "severe dressing-down... Which is why the Journal’s editorial page should leave ‘hard-news’ reporting to people who enforce basic standards of fairness."

Not surprisingly, the online White House organ Salon ran a lengthy and critical piece about Rabinowitz’s story on Feb. 20. Author Joan Walsh, like Noah, implied that because Rabinowitz is a Journal editorial board member, and not on the news side of the daily, the piece was wedded to the editorial page’s vigilant watch on the bounty of Clinton scandals.

Even though the Salon piece came out on Monday, there was no mention of the previous Saturday’s front-page Washington Post article. Presumably the Salon staff takes the weekend off—to a retreat maybe, where no newspapers can interfere with their meditation. Granted, the 60s will never die for the Salonistas, but such work habits make for sloppy journalism.

Included in the article was more propaganda from the marginal website. Walsh affixes the pejorative "Moonie-owned" to a mention of The Washington Times, a paper that has transcended its original roots and is respected in the nation’s capital.

At noon on Feb. 22, Drudge had this comment about the slanted Salon article: "Up is down. West is East. Liberals like Salon’s editor David Talbot now dismiss rape claims? I pray the attorney general of his state does not bust his lip and rip his hose … I’d be forced to come to his rescue while everyone laughed and cried scandal fatigue."

All of which adds even more sympathy chestnuts to Hillary’s campaign war chest, but it’s probably too much. Sooner or later, one of the Democratic weaklings—my bet is the warbling, moralistic Joseph Lieberman—will tell some reporter that maybe, just maybe, he should’ve voted for conviction in the Senate trial.

White House spokesman Joe Lockhart, who’s not nearly as adept as his predecessor Mike McCurry, belittled Rabinowitz’s story.

"I spend very little time reading the Wall Street Journal editorial page," Lockhart told reporters on Friday. "They lost me after they accused the President of being a drug smuggler and a murderer."

Hmm. Can you spell cuckoo? The Journal has never accused Clinton of murder. I wonder what Lockhart thought when The Washington Post was plopped on his doorstep Saturday morning.

Despite the prospect of continuing revelations of her husband’s bad behavior, Hillary will still be pressed by politicians this spring to run for Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s seat. Leon Panetta, quoted in Frank Bruni’s Feb. 21 New York Times story, was only the most self-deluded. He said, in advocating her candidacy and the benefit it would have for presidential hopeful Al Gore, "To have an asset like Hillary Clinton showing up at fund-raisers in California, as well as Florida and other key states—that’s a hell of a draw... In a tight race nationally, I think it could make a difference."

And I think you’re out of your effing mind, Leon. Granted, some Michael Moore clones might think that Hillary is Superwoman, but if she runs for Senate in New York, just when is she going to have time to help out Gore across the country? Especially in Florida, where, if George W. Bush is the GOP nominee, the state’s a gimme for him. Hillary will have her hands full with non-white babies, empanadas, advice from gadflies like Ed Koch and daily bromides from Sean Hannity.

In any case, you’ve got to think that Hillary, seeing that the scandals will never stop with her lug of a partner, will just give it up and make millions on the lecture circuit, preaching to the converted about health care, child rearing and the evils of tax cuts. Why get into the
political ring with a thug like Giuliani, who’ll just whale away on her stupid, off-the-cuff remark last year about Palestine, the $100,000 she made on a commodities deal (a subject that will tickle Rudy, since in the late 80s he ruined the careers of many innocent Wall Street traders over just the same kind of gray but legal transactions), the missing Castle Grande documents that turned up in the White House living quarters, Travelgate and on and on? It just isn’t worth it, especially since she’d probably lose.

Unless...she divorces Bill. Now that would be a twist that might electrify New Yorkers enough to give her the Senate seat. Almost every woman in the state would vote for her, especially those with husbands who have a roving eye, and probably some Republican men, too. Maybe she’d enlist Chelsea as a junior campaign manager, bring Betsey Wright up from Arkansas, have Dee Dee Myers take time off from her sinecure at Vanity Fair... Why, it would be a real rock ’n’ roll Tracy Chapman kind of circus. Cool. Hillary, that’s the move: You file the papers and old MUGGER will admit that even though you’re a dishonest, sanctimonious bitch, this would be a righteous step toward salvation, and I’ll even think about voting for you.

First Baker, then Rich and Soon Lewis

I’M AS SICK OF POST-IMPEACHMENT CHATTER as the next guy, but all this baloney about no memorable figures emerging from the congressional proceedings is a lot of nonsense. Pundits forget that Sam Ervin, that lovable scamp of a senator nobody had ever heard of before Watergate, was on tv intermittently for 18 months running. He had the honor of grilling John Dean,
John Ehrlichman, Jeb Magruder, H.R. Haldeman and all the other Nixon baddies for weeks on end in televised hearings. The Watergate soap opera played for a lot longer than the Clinton farce. Ervin is viewed as an honorable Watergate hero today, and there’s truth to that historical judgment. Back in ’73-’74, as I remember, he was a cult hero reporters liked, although with more than a touch of condescension, because of his folksy Southern expressions and bright humor. He was a real card who also had the advantage of presiding over the rightful investigation of a Republican president.

Years from now, when Lindsey Graham and Asa Hutchinson are in the Senate, their heroic roles as House managers will be remembered in a different light. As for the media, while no figures were as dramatic as Woodward and Bernstein, several stand out: Geraldo, for his shameless nightly sucking-up to Bill Clinton; Chris Matthews, Lisa Myers, Jackie Judd, David Broder, Susan Schmidt, David Tell and Michael Kelly all contributed trenchant reporting and commentary that will be judged honorably a generation from now.

One man whose essays on Oralgate will not fare well even a year from now is Anthony Lewis, the septuagenarian op-ed columnist for The New York Times. The cliche of the last two weeks among the elite mainstream press—Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter comes to mind—is that the hard-right wing is acting like the Japanese soldiers who were camped somewhere in the Philippines years after World War II had ceased, thinking the battle was still in progress. Add Lewis to that list, but from the other side.

Last Saturday he used his Times space to once again attack Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and the validity of the office itself, which President Clinton renewed early in his administration.

Lewis begins: "As Kenneth Starr conducted his relentless investigation of President Clinton, many Americans were troubled. ‘What can we do about it?’ they asked in frustration. But they could do nothing, because Mr. Starr was not accountable to our political process." I’m sure that many of Lewis’ media and academic friends in Boston were asking that question, as they met in seminars, sipped sherry and reminisced about Camelot. Otherwise, I don’t really believe that was the question of the year for most Americans.

In any case, the main point concerning Starr, a decent man of integrity who was shamelessly vilified by the White House and a culpable media, is that he didn’t go far enough. His plodding investigation did drag out the process too long and he famously erred by not presenting a broader outline of Clinton’s crimes to Congress. Concentrating on Monica was a mistake; as we can see now, pushing the Juanita Broaddrick horror story would’ve horrified Americans and made it easier for the House to impeach and the Senate to convict.

JWR contributor "Mugger" is the editor-in-chief and publisher of New York Press. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


02/24/99: The New Yorker Takes the Local: Mister Hertzberg Strikes Out; A Search for the Clemens Upside
02/19/99: The Howell Raines Conspiracy
02/17/99: History Lessons: An Immigrant’s Advice
02/12/99:The Man Who Owns the World
02/10/99:The Impeachment Trial Splatters: Lindsey Graham Emerges a Hero
02/05/99: A Slight Stumble for Bush
01/29/99: Rich Is Back in the Tank
01/29/99: Not So Fast, Mr. & Mrs. Pundit
01/27/99:This Is Not America: Clinton’s Set to Walk and Party On, Suckers
01/25/99:Sniffles and High Fever: Kids Say the Darndest Things
01/20/99: Whole Lott(a) Waffling Goin' On
01/14/99: Senator Hillary Rodham in 2000: The First Step Back to the Oval Office
01/08/99: Drudge Is the Hero
01/06/99 : MUGGER & the Martians
12/30/98 : Last Licks of ’98: Some Heroes, Several Villains & Many Idiots
12/17/98 : Boy Mugger's obsession
12/11/98: Irving’s the King Wolf
12/09/98: What do Matt Drudge and Tom Hanks have in common?
11/26/98: Starr’s Magnificent Moment
11/18/98: Who could have imagined!?
11/11/98: Send Dowd Down to the Minors
11/05/98: Feeding Gore to a shark named Bush
10/30/98: "Pope" Jann and his rappers speak ---it's time for fun again
10/28/98: Lowered expectations, but the GOP holds the cards
10/23/98: Speaking from Zabar’s: Michael Moore!
10/21/98: Bubba redux? His uptick won't last
10/16/98: Gore for President: The Bread Lines Are Starting to Form

©1998, Russ Smith