Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Hillary is now riding at # 2 on the Amazon best-seller list, trailing only the new, unpublished, Harry Potter. Needless to say, this causes much wailing, gnashing of teeth, and even dumber than usual commentary in the obvious circles. Wolf Blitzer:

Her critics charge the $8 million advance and her presidential ambition were behind the decision [to write the book].

Omigawd, critics charge that an author wrote a book, in large part, to make money! And, for the first recorded instance, an accusation against the Clintons is actually true. Quick, somebody wake up Ken Starr and get him back in action.

On one of the most important questions raised in the book, her supporters and critics often disagree -- namely, on whether she should have remained married to Bill Clinton after he confessed of his relationship with Lewinsky. Many critics say she should have left him, charging that the only reason she stayed married was out of political necessity.

Odd, I thought conservatives were supposed to be against divorce and in favor of making troubled marriages work.

Brent Bozell, infuriated at Barbara Walters's interview of Hillary, sputters:

Walters only asked questions that would please the Clinton-loving Left. How could Hillary work with icky Tom DeLay and senators who voted to impeach her husband? She lamented that the poor Clintons were so hounded: "I can barely remember a week went by when one of you wasn't being criticized and investigated." Can you imagine ABC or Barbara Walters ever lining up a row of poor-dear questions for Newt Gingrich, who was also investigated routinely throughout his tenure as Speaker of the House? Or Ollie North? Or Clarence Thomas? Or anyone conservative?

For the record, here is some of the hard-hitting dialogue when Walters interviewed Hillary's successor, Laura Bush:

WALTERS As you waited [on 9/11], what were your thoughts?
MRS. BUSH Well, like every American, my thoughts were with the people who were in that building. I called my mother, I called our daughters… talked to the President.
WALTERS Can you tell me what you told your daughters?
MRS. BUSH I told them that they were okay, that they'd be fine. They were frightened, I think; one of them wept a little bit. When she woke up, she had heard it on the radio… her radio alarm to wake her up for class, and one of her neighbors in the dorm came in crying because her little brother was in a school close to the World Trade Center. As it turned out, he was fine. But, she was really impacted with it. The other one was asleep still in the Texas time zone. But I talked to both of them.
I called my mother, because I wanted to hear her voice. I acted like I was calling to reassure her, but the fact is I wanted her to reassure me.
WALTERS Were you worried about your husband?
MRS. BUSH I was worried about him. I talked to him a lot of times during the day. When he first got on Air Force One to come home, I talked to him.… He called me a lot during the day from Air Force One.
WALTERS That's how you take care of each other....
MRS. BUSH (Laughs) Right....
WALTERS Speaking of that, do you get tired of people saying that your husband has exceeded … (LAUGHTER)
MRS. BUSH Expectations?
WALTERS …expectations?
MRS. BUSH Well, I'm glad that people are getting to see him for how he is.
MRS. BUSH He also is a very steady hand. He's very focused, he's very disciplined. I said that a million times during the campaign.
WALTERS Now they believe you.

Where there is are Clintons and spin, you can always find Andrew Sullivan:

And at its center is an obvious, big, glaring fib: that she never had an inkling of her husband's long pattern of sexual abuse and harrassment until the August morning he told her of his latest victim. This stretches credulity beyond even Clintonite limits.

This is such an obviously false charge that even Sullivan himself contradicts it on his own site:

This time, the fuse was the leaked spin that the former First Lady only found out about her husband's adultery with Monica Lewinsky the day before Clinton's civil deposition. Until then, we are asked to believe, she had no idea that her husband would ever have contemplated an illicit sexual liaison with a young intern.

What Hillary said was that she had believed Bill's denial about Monica Lewinsky until he admitted the truth. This is widely claimed, without proof, to be impossible, or at best proof she was delusional. But where is the real difficulty in believing this? There is obviously no doubt that Bill had a history of cheating. Like all philanderers, he tried to hide the truth from his wife, but she certainly found out about at least some of it. But these incidents took place before Clinton became a serious presidential candidate. It seems clear that Clinton changed his habits after, or perhaps well before, the Flowers story came out. Presumably that was discussed between the Clintons. For all the jokes and stories, there is no good reason to believe that Clinton had any dalliances in the White House other than Lewinsky - certainly Starr's and Jones's lawyers were trying hard to find one and came up empty. (Kathleen Willey, the only other alleged case, is an unreliable witness.) So when the Lewinsky allegations first came out, Hillary knew that Bill had a long history of such activity, but had every reason to believe that he had changed. And she also knew that both he and herself had been targeted with an endless stream of false allegations for 6 years. In that context, her believing Bill about Monica was entirely reasonable.

Tony Blankley gives what can be considered the quintessential rightist critique:

Miss Hillary's new book surely will make it on The New York Times' best seller list. The only suspense left is whether it will be placed on the fiction or non-fiction list. This decision will be an early test of the NYT's new commitment to truth. (They could regain all their lost credibility in one bound, if they went with the fiction list.) ...Whether Miss Hillary is a natural born liar or whether she learned it at the foot of the master, may be an interesting topic for a Ph.D. thesis someday. But, clearly, not only do she and her husband not have a reputation for truthfulness, they don't seem to have the capacity for it. I haven't actually read her book yet (I may spend money like water, but I have my limits). However, from various publicly available quotes out of the book it is obvious that she has not veered anywhere near the truth.

Blankley hasn't actually read the book, doesn't know what's in it, but he is certain that it is all lies from beginning to end. That he can't actually offer up any evidence of a single lie is irrelevant. It's Hillary Clinton; that she is lying is less a political claim than a metaphysical/religious axiom. (Over at NRO, Ramesh Ponnuru and David Frum engage in the same exercise of proof by assertion.) Who needs the evidence of times and places when you have the evidence of things unseen? Indeed, after Blankley is finished analyzing a book he has never read, he goes on to give a demonstration of his ability to read the minds of both Bill and Hillary:

For instance, in the Barbara Walters free media publicity event, Miss Hillary seemed to boldly differ with her husband on the matter of amending the Constitution to permit a third presidential term. For 24 hours cable news shows were clucking about her stepping out on her own and breaking with her husband -- the only human on the planet in the last half century who has mentioned changing the 22nd Amendment to provide for a third presidential term. First of all, Mr. Bill didn't say it as a serious matter (he knows it is a political impossibility), but because he needed a publicity fix. And Miss Hillary didn't publicly disagree with him because she disagreed with him -- but because she wanted to be seen to be publicly disagreeing with him. She thinks it's good for her hideous image. And, after all, this is the rare issue that no voters or Democratic party interests care about. It's a freebie.

Clearly, Mr Blankley has rare psychic gifts. Maybe the Pentagon should ask him where Saddam hid all those WMDs.