June 09, 2003

First Draft of History

So I'm now reading The Clinton Wars by Sidney Blumenthal (who was a journalist and then a close advisor to the president during both of his administrations). This is really the first compehensive draft of history from the perspective of someone in the administration (instead of one of the "liberal" journalists with a vested interest in hyping a nothing scandal).

There are passages in here that really make my stomach turn. Blumenthal talks about Clinton as though his core beliefs are truly genuine, that Clinton can barely control his emotion when confronted with relics of the FDR administration, etc., etc. I mean, it sounds like the kind of utter crap that someone like Peggy Noonan spews out about (insert the name of any Republican here). With that aside, there are some very interesting passages here, and I'll try to quote a few of the shorter ones as I come across them.

Like this, regarding Whitewater and the Pillsbury report:

On December 13, 1995, the Resolution Trust Corporation released its long-awaited and dreaded supplemental report on Whitewater. This was the result of the inquiry directed by Republican Jay Stephens ... The report completely and categorically absolved the Clintons -- and answered all outstanding questions about Whitewater.

The RTC report stated that it had in its possession "essentially all of the documents regarding Whitewater" relevant to the Clintons. ... It concluded emphatically, "On this record, there is no basis to charge the Clintons with any kind of primary liability for fraud or intentional misconduct. This investigation has revealed no evidence to support any such claims."

The report made a point of puncturing the conspiracy theories: "There are legal theories by which one can become liable for the conduct of others -- e.g., conspiracy and aiding and abetting. On this evidentiary record, however, these theories have no application to the Clintons. ... There is no evidence here that the Clintons had any such knowledge or intent. Accordingly, there is no basis to sue them."

In brief, every one of the accusations against the Clintons was false. The facts as laid out in the report confirmed Hillary's account and discredited the manufactured theories about Clinton's guilt. The investigation had studied more than two hundred thousand documents and interviewed forty-five witnesses, including the Clintons. The report contained hundreds of documents and thousands of footnotes. And the facts were irrefutable. ...

Understandably, the Clintons were pleased. At last, they were vindicated. The White House sent out copies of this report to more than 150 news organizations. Then, nothing happened. If the report had been launched into outer space it would have received more coverage. The Wall Street Journal ran a straightforward article in its news pages. But days passed and nothing appeared in the New York Times or the Washington Post. No network broadcast any report. As it happened, the Post never mentioned it, and almost two weeks later ... the Times published only a few lines, and somewhat misleading ones at that. ...

In the media's confusion of their work with that of actual government investigation, they made a false analogy between the Clintons and Nixon, who had withheld crucial information, documents, and tapes from government investigators looking into Watergate. The Clintons, on the other hand, had given every document they were aware of to all investigative governmental bodies: the RTC, the Office of Independent Counsel, and the Senate Special Committee, as well as other congressional committees. Now the RTC had made publicly available the significant documents that had been so hotly contested. And the media did not report on their contents or existence.

Lars-Erik Nelson write, "And now the secret verdict is in: There was nothing for the Clintons to hide ... So, in a bizarre reversal of those Stalin-era trials in which innocent people were convicted in secret, the President and First Lady have been publicly charged and secretly found innocent."

Blumenthal elsewhere talks about one journalist in particular, William Safire, who started out his political career as a Nixon operative. His career mission ever since has been to try to show that Watergate was no different that what other presidents always do. He was the journalist who started the tradition of calling everything "-gate" (like Travelgate, Whitewatergate, Monicagate) in attempt to equalize their status with Watergate.

Anyway, thanks again, liberal media!

Posted by Observer at June 9, 2003 07:15 AM

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Posted by: Humbaba on June 9, 2003 03:08 PM

That's actually really bitterly funny from a liberal point of view. I understand it is meant to be a parody of liberal objections to the whole Iraqi experience, but it actually goes to show just how far removed from Tolkien's good vs evil this reality is. At every paragraph, I am struck by the differences between the true idealistic goodness of the ring fellowship and the cynical manipulative nastiness of the people currently in power. Truly, Grima Wormtongue would feel right at home in the White House today.

Posted by: Observer on June 9, 2003 05:21 PM

Yup, it's really well-crafted. Funny-yet-sad for both sides.

Posted by: Humbaba on June 9, 2003 09:12 PM