I apologize to my readers in advance. In the next issue of National Review I suggest that Clinton’s stable of spinners were “incinerated” by the Starr Report. Alas, one of them has already risen, Phoenix-like, from the ashes of his own shamelessness. Paul Begala is back. Last night he was on Larry King Live and Nightline. His beard is gone, but his condescending prattle is still there. Since there’s no laugh-track you’d think he was serious when he suggested it was the Republicans who spun Clinton’s testimony tape. You’d think he was serious when he implied that we should take his word for anything. Koppel had it exactly right when he asked Begala why shouldn’t we think you’re simply lying again? I’d tell you what Begala said, but I didn’t bother to listen.
GRETA VAN AWFUL
Another Spinner-in-journalist’s-clothing I’m learning to tune out is CNN’s Greta Van Susteren. She and her lapdog Roger Cossack remind me more and more of Hotlips and Frank Burns from M*A*S*H. She’s a bully and he’s whipped-they make me want to drink gin all day just to put up with them. Greta has commented more than once how she would like to have David Kendall’s job. Though no offers have been made public, she’s certainly been auditioning pro bono for the last few months. All day yesterday she was a cheerleader for the President (except during the first break in the testimony when she said he was doing poorly-but she quickly recovered and made amends the rest of the day). Time and again yesterday she kept asking, “Where’s Whitewater? Where’s Filegate?” in regard to the Prosecutor’s questioning of Clinton. She should know that this testimony was negotiated to be narrowly confined. She should know that she, the press, the Congress, and her pals at the White House had urged getting this portion of the investigation over with as fast as possible.
She should know that this grand jury was not dealing with Whitewater and Filegate. She should know that this testimony was kept short and that Clinton filibustered it to make it shorter. In fact she does know all these things. She just doesn’t care because she’s jealously representing her de facto client’s interests.
Greta for weeks has grown more and more dyspeptic as she has realized that this scandal no longer lends itself to her shrieking Burden of Proof program (I guess it’s Roger’s show too-when Greta loosens the choke collar). She whines CONSTANTLY that this is political now, not legal. Susteren displays what is worst about the lawyerfication of America. Time and again she intimates that the law is our North Star, that technical definitions have seeped into every nook and cranny of our lives. Being a cad means nothing unless the cad breaks the law, and even then the cad part is irrelevant.
On Larry King both Jeff Greenfield and Judge Robert Bork tried to explain that you don’t have to break the law to be impeached. When told things like this she makes the same face my dog used to when I tried to feed him grapes-a sort of dopey and disappointed “Huh? What-am-I-supposed-to-do-with-this?” expression. This exchange from King was priceless:
BORK: Now, wait a minute. Let’s suppose the Chief Justice of the United States-not this one, but the Chief Justice of the United States-is serviced in his chambers by a young lady exactly as the President was, and he doesn’t lie about it. You don’t think that’s an impeachable offense? This – you want important issues for the nation to be in the hands of a man that depraved? I think the Chief Justice would be out of there in a trice.
VAN SUSTEREN: And he doesn’t lie about it? Is that what you’re saying, Judge?
BORK: And he doesn’t lie about it.
VAN SUSTEREN: He doesn’t – I – frankly, if he’s a…
BORK: It’s just the fact…
VAN SUSTEREN: . . . maybe if he’s a bachelor, may-have-what if he’s a. . .
BORK: Just-no, no, just the fact. . .
VAN SUSTEREN: … bachelor?
BORK: I don’t care, if he’s being-if this is happening in his chambers with a 22-year-old intern. . .
VAN SUSTEREN: And as consenting adults?
At this point King stepped in before she started to cry. Bork’s point is obvious but only to those people who think that there are standards of conduct that should be adhered to regardless of whether they violate the law. The point is obvious to anyone who thinks that the President’s conduct should meet a standard a little higher than simply not-criminal.
WHY DO WE CARE?
The Clinton people-on background and on-camera-touted the standing ovation for the President at the United Nations yesterday. The world’s greatest conglomeration of rent-seeking, one-world-loving, cookie-pushers loves Bill Clinton! Bill Clinton (and Al Gore) think the United Nations is the controlling legal authority for the United States. This Administration is the first in two decades that actually defers to the UN on all manner of issues and thinks that the disdain of these fuzzy-wuzzy multilateralists is the worst international sanction. Indeed, the only time the President has ever avoided putting his finger to the wind of “international opinion” was in the aftermath of his disastrous “apology.” (It may not have been Wagging the Dog when he bombed Osama Bin Laden but it certainly was out of character).
I, for one, think it is a sign of American failure that the United Nations wants Bill Clinton to stay. Besides, someone should tell Paul Begala et al. that the Constitution stipulates that two deliberative bodies have a voice in the removal of the President: the House and the Senate. In fact, the General Assembly doesn’t even merit a mention.