JWR Roger SimonMona CharenLinda Chavez
Jacob SullumJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellWilliam PfaffRobert Scheer
Don FederCal Thomas
Left, Right & Center
Jewish World Review / March 19, 1998 / 21 Adar, 5758

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill

WHITE HOUSE spin-masters and their media supporters are attacking Kathleen Willey because of her account of Bill Clinton's grossness in the oval office.

"Why did she wait so long to come forward?" is the chorus from the Clinton supporters. She waited exactly half as long as Anita Hill. But asking that question about Ms. Hill was Anita Hill enough to get you labeled a male chauvinist, at best.

The other question being asked about Kathleen Willey is: "What is her motive for coming forward?" Anita Hill's motive was clearly to stop Judge Clarence Thomas from being confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court.

Mrs. Willey's motives are also quite clear and quite different: She was subpoenaed and had no choice but to testify. She got herself a lawyer to fight the subpoena but he lost and she was then forced to testify under oath. The only question at that point was whether she was going to tell the truth or commit perjury.

Apparently to the disappointment of the Clinton supporters, she told the truth. The best the Clinton camp could do was to get Monica Lewinsky to try to convince Linda Tripp to deny having seen Mrs. Willey coming out of Clinton's office looking disheveled. Instead, Ms. Tripp protected herself by taping Monica instead of committing perjury.

Why then did Mrs. Willey go on "60 Minutes"? She was no fool and realized how the Clinton White House was engaging in character assassination against anyone who crossed them, whether Paula Jones, Kenneth Starr, Linda Tripp, or anybody else. She had a chance to tell her story to the public and she told it before the smears could begin.

If there was any doubt as to who was telling the truth, Clinton lawyer Bob Bennett's attempted denial on "60 Minutes" should have dispelled those doubts. He could hardly look up from the floor as he tried to put the Clinton spin on the story.

Now the White House has released letters that Mrs. Willey wrote to the president after the incident she described on "60 Minutes." But Anita Hill's repeatedly contacting Clarence Thomas after she no longer worked for him never carried any weight with media liberals and feminists, did it?

Mrs. Willey was in a far more desperate situation than Anita Hill and the President of the United States could do far more to help her get a job than Clarence Thomas could do for Professor Hill in the academic world. Mrs. Willey was a widow whose husband had left her with more than a quarter of a million dollars of his debts.

How does the Kathleen Willey story itself differ from the Anita Hill story? First of all, Kathleen Willey told her story the way most people tell about something that left an indelible impression on them -- with incidental details that have no real bearing on the issue, but which are burned into their memories because they were part of an experience that they are not likely to forget.

For example, Mrs. Willey remembered the cup of coffee that Clinton had gotten and the fact that Lloyd Bentsen was waiting outside the oval office when she emerged. If you are lying, it makes no sense to talk about some coffee that the president got because it could turn out that Bill Clinton doesn't drink coffee and had none in the pantry.

If you are lying, you don't talk about seeing Lloyd Bentsen because he could have been in California that day. In Anita Hill's story, nothing that Clarence Thomas was supposed to have said or done ever happened on a specific day, nor even "right after Christmas" or "just before Labor Day" or at any other time that could be pinned down and checked out.

Anita Hill's star witness tripped herself up just by saying that she and Anita talked about her being harassed by Clarence Thomas while the two women lived in Washington. Then it came out that both women lived in Washington before Anita Hill went to work for Clarence Thomas -- and that the witness had left town by the time that Hill was hired.

Anita Hill's story was much more like Bill Clinton's story than like Kathleen Willey's. In order to believe either Anita Hill or Bill Clinton, you have to believe that innumerable other people lied under oath. You have to believe not only in "a vast right-wing conspiracy" but also that this conspiracy included liberal Democrats.


3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.