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Jewish World Review / Oct. 30, 1998 /10 Mar-Cheshvan, 5759


Mugger "Pope" Jann and his rappers speak ---it's time for fun again

HUMBLE MUGGER GIVES UP, and now renounces all his political sins. Bill Clinton for a third term, damn the Constitution! Fry Ken Starr! All Republicans are evil, twisted jerks who wouldn't know Mick Jagger from Mickey Mantle.

How do I know? Why, Father Jann Wenner told me so.

Wenner's written many, many embarrassing articles and editorials in his 31-year tenure at Rolling Stone, most of them designed to ingratiate himself to rock stars, politicians and actors. But aside from his not-for-diabetics endorsement of Clinton back in '92, just months after tapping Jerry Brown in the April New York primary, his unconscionable tarring of Starr in the current issue of Rolling Stone is the worst yet in a very checkered career. (As an entrepreneur, I respect Wenner; as a personality, writer and human being, I think he stinks.)

As a prologue, let's return to that sickening endorsement in 1992, just as a demonstration of how long Wenner's been in cahoots with Clinton. "Clinton and Gore are men who came of age in the Sixties and whose sensibilities and value systems were formed then. They have the civil-rights movement, the Vietnam War, the cultural revolution, even rock & roll in their blood.

"Putting Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the White House will give our generation the chance to renew our politics and to reconcile our deeply held values with the realities of government. Above all, it will mean that the humane values of our generation will at last be able to shape the country in a very direct way.

"Bill Clinton and Al Gore are of this generation. They stand for what's been the best of it. And as candidates, they are as good as it gets. "I can't wait until election day. It could be one of the great moments of our lives."

His Nov. 12, '98 edition of RS is called "Sex, Power & the Presidency: The Clinton Conversation" and in addition to Wenner's editorial he includes the remarks of two dozen or so of the people whose knowledge and concern about politics and social conditions are above reproach: actors and rock 'n' roll stars.

My personal favorite is from a gentleman who calls himself DMX, rapper: "All [Clinton] did was get some p..sy, you know what I'm saying?... He's a dog, man. Men are dogs. The fronting ones are the ones who don't act like dogs. Those are the ones you watch. He's doing his job. Whether he gets impeached should be determined by that, not where his (manhood) is at."


But let's return to the Grand Hippie/Yuppie Poobah himself, Mr. Jann Wenner, the man who truly represents the Boomer generation, contrary to the opinion of nerdy Beltway pundits who've mistakenly tagged Clinton with that dubious distinction.

Wenner begins: "Let's be honest with ourselves: It's been fun. And we've had as many guilty, voyeuristic thrills as anyone watching the national soap opera unfold on All-Monica TV." This recalls the opening question to Clinton in July of '93 when Wenner was granted an interview at the White House: "Are you having fun?" Clinton rambled, spoke about his long hours, the important work he and Hillary were trying to accomplish, the same kind of blather he's tried to con the American public with for six years. Wenner said, yeah, yeah, yeah, "But are you having fun?" And that's what the once-boy publisher is all about, and why he's, as I said above, the King Boomer. Jann just wants to have fun.

But then he gets serious, and acknowledges his debt to Joan Didion, Frank Rich and Abe Rosenthal for "borrow[ing] language and insights" from their writing. He "appreciates their indulgence," as if any one of them gives a &$$^. Well, maybe Rich was thrilled by the mention. Wenner, never a Big Thinker, relies on the standard litany of complaints about Starr's investigation: It's a Republican witchhunt; a redux of McCarthyism; an attempt to reverse the results of two elections; a trivial scandal just about sex; a plot inspired by Newt Gingrich and the vast right-wing conspiracy. Finally, since Clinton's poll numbers are so high, he wonders, and most Americans don't want the impeachment hearings held, why is the process continuing?

Wenner, like so many intellectual lightweights before him, argues that all this Monica tawdriness is between Clinton and his wife; why not censure the guy and get the nastiness behind us so the nation can move on? Well, why not? Why don't we forget the harassment of Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones? The payoffs to Webb Hubbell? The pilfering of the FBI files of nearly 900 Republicans for those in the White House to peruse while watching a Harry Thomason sitcom? Let's give Hillary a pass on her extraordinary business acumen of turning a $1000 investment into $100,000, almost overnight, with the help of Jim Blair. The Clinton administration's eager acceptance of illegal foreign campaign contributions? Small beer. The selling of the White House to raise money for the '96 campaign? Everyone does it. Besides, it's just about sex, right?

Wenner scribbles from one of his many well-appointed homes: "And so what we have is a Republican majority in the House, held hostage by hate-drunk zealots and McCarthy-esque character assassins arguing the proposition that the president's personal life must be absolutely flawless, that should he have less than such moral purity, he has no right as a sworn officer of the Constitution to personal privacy."

This is the dangerous nonsense that's disseminated in a magazine with a circulation of more than one million. I've got a question for Wenner: What if the person who's been accused of Clinton's crimes -- perjury, obstruction of justice, etc. -- were a man named William Rehnquist? Booted from the Supreme Court in a flash. What about Clarence Thomas? Why, I'd bet that Barbara Boxer, along with Gloria Steinem and Barbra Streisand, would be scouting out a tree to string him up. And what if the culprit was pro-life John Cardinal O'Connor? He'd be in Rikers, as Wenner would undoubtedly say, in a New York minute.

Wenner concludes with a plea to his aging readership, lecturing that the "bottom line is your vote." After all, the "Starr-Gingrich-Bennett minority will be out in force," so put aside the bong, get off the StairMaster, turn off the Boz Scaggs and get yourself to a ballot box. He writes: "We say that we are fed up with this inquisition into the sexual lives of our leaders, and to hell with the torturers. Vote down this inquisition."

Now let's turn to a sampling of the people Wenner says "shape the culture of our times." Mind you, not everyone included here is a nitwit, just the majority of them.

Lucinda Williams, singer/songwriter: "I think that Ken Starr is hung up sexually and that he's an attention freak."

Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam: "Why don't we encourage Starr to spend another $5 million to catch Clinton in a lie about masturbation? This is an example of bipartisan politics ruining this country."

Jack Nicholson, actor: "This is a slow political coup d'etat. It is pretty obvious that we've got our tit in the wringer and we don't really know how to get out of it. I'm a big Clinton supporter. I think he understands the mechanics of the job better than anyone who has ever held the position, and that's really what I want."

Marilyn Manson, singer: "I think he's done a good job for the country, and I think there's no reason why he shouldn't be getting laid just like a rock star would. Do they have backstage passes for the Oval Office? Did Monica Lewinsky have to sleep her way to the president? Go through the tour manager first?"

Fat Joe, rapper: "I think he's been a great president; it ain't his fault that he's a playa. I can't be mad at him... This is a personal vendetta. How many times have you seen somebody really go through hell? I mean, not even Kathie Lee Gifford went through this sh... I say, on with the program."

Waylon Jennings, singer/songwriter: "Clinton lied to his wife and kid, and had other people lie for him. He caused some of his friends to go bankrupt, and he's not going to do anything about that, either. For that, he's a jerk. But the worst thing he did was turn Ken Starr loose on the world. Ken Starr is a nerd. Someone should kick our president's [backside] for telling Ken Starr everything and screwing it up for the rest of us. He shouldn't be impeached, but his presidency is tainted. He has lost credibility the world over. He asked for it, and he did it. And I think Hillary knew all along."

Noreaga, rapper: "Clinton's my f----n' man -- he's crazy -- Clinton's the best president ever. He's a dog, and he does his job -- for real... There ain't been no wars. He's traveling to all these other countries, he's chillin', he's talkin' to motherf........, he wants to be the coolest president ever. He's f...n' all right with me."

Joan Osborne, singer: "If you are married to Hillary Clinton, why would you want to mess around with Monica Lewinsky, anyway? Why go out for a cheeseburger when you can have filet mignon at home?"

Sean Lennon, singer/songwriter: "It's kind of f.....ked up that he cheated on his wife so many times. But that doesn't surprise me at all. I think most politicians, especially the powerful ones, are really macho pigs... I think he should have resigned a while ago. That would have been the honorable thing to do. What really upsets me is that he bombed Sudan, not that he got a blow job or inserted a cigar in her vagina. To me, the point is like Wag the Dog --- he bombed a starving nation in the name of some anti-terrorist campaign, when it's really a campaign to distract from his problems."

Stephen Stills, singer/songwriter: "By and large, I'm proud of what he's done. I'm very proud to consider myself a friend of the family."

Bob Weir, singer: "What we're seeing now is a coup attempt from the religious right that's supported by the unholy and sad alliance that was once the Republican Party. The religious right had its shot back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; the Pilgrims came and set up theocratic, totalitarian regimes, and they didn't work."

David Byrne, singer/songwriter: "The Starr Report is pornography... We should be dealing with the issues, we should be looking at what's going on in the Middle East, what's really going on... So many politicians, businesspeople, musicians, artists and entertainers engage in these kind of things. It doesn't affect whether you're good at what you do. Still, I think he's a lousy president, I think he's scum, I think bombing those countries is a criminal act."

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


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10/16/98: Gore for President: The Bread Lines Are Starting to Form

©1998, Russ Smith