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The Military Will Do Fine; Geraldo; Paula Jones Is Back


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Jonah Goldberg

MILITARY WILL DO FINE
All of the papers report today that the military is growing increasingly concerned about the rise in the ranks of “contemptuous words” about the President. This is a tough situation for the military. Precisely because the military is a cut above the rest of us, they are particularly excusable in looking down their noses at the behavior of their Commander-in-Chief. At the same time what separates them from the pack is the discipline that should keep them from doing it publicly.

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Many liberals wring their hands about martial morality because it makes them uncomfortable about their own priorities. I didn’t vote for Ross Perot in 1992. But I considered the notion — bandied by many know-nothings — that America flirted with dictatorship or Napoleonism by considering Perot, a slander; not so much on Perot, but on the military itself. America’s soldiers swear to uphold the Constitution. They do not swear fealty to a man. It is a distortion to think that the military is the President’s private army simply because he is the Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, in years past, soldiers actually gave battle cries of allegiance to Congress.

I receive a great deal of e-mail from members of the military — most of them retired — and it is clear how tempers run out there. I have never been comfortable with the idea of lecturing people who risk their lives in service to the country and I certainly won’t start now. While my heart goes out to the men and women in uniform, I have no doubt they, unlike their Commander-in-Chief, know what the right thing to do is.

GERALDO
I appeared on the Rivera Live show last night. My world is a raging sea of confusion, the arrow on my compass spins wildly. At one point Geraldo actually applauded me, literally, for supporting my mother.

I spent the night curled in a ball in the corner of the room surrounded by many fallen soldiers — Bud, Jack Daniels, Good ol’ Johnny W. — trying to come to terms with the idea. Geraldo likes me. This is sort of like getting complimented by Sid Blumenthal for my integrity. Ultimately, it is a tactic, of course. By asserting that I am defending my mother out of filial duty, I am somehow not expected to see the true merits of the argument he presents. The reality, alas, is that I defend my mother not because she trims the crusts off my toast and crushes the aspirin into my apple sauce, but because she is right and she has done nothing wrong.

P.S.: For those of you who have asked and those who might have missed it, that word I called Sid Blumenthal was “coprophilic.” It means someone who is obsessively or abnormally interested in fecal matter. Now you know.

PAULA JONES IS BACK
Yesterday several journalists asked me what I thought about Paula Jones. My honest answer is “I don’t know.” Sure, let her case go to the jury. But there are important lessons in Paula Jones that may separate Clinton bashers from conservatives. Clinton bashers are gung ho for Jones, I suspect, to a large degree because of the (legitimate) damage she does to Bill Clinton. Conservatives should be more cautious about embracing everything Jones represents. As Norman Podhoretz wisely pointed out in Commentary some months ago, simply because we get to beat up Democrats with a club they created doesn’t mean the club is legitimate. Yes, I think Clinton dropped trou on Paula. Yes, I think her suit should be brought. But Conservatives are in the uncomfortable position of endorsing a lot of notions about sexual harassment we considered anathema barely two years ago.

This hypocrisy is, of course, a slight bump on the horizon compared to the Everest-like monstrosity of the Left, considering their universal pronouncements on Anita Hill. If Ken Starr is sex obsessed and to blame for dragging Clinton’s dirty laundry into the public, what does that make the feminists and the Democrats who dragged the Hill-Thomas hearings into the public square. Nobody should EVER be allowed to downplay the Paula Jones case without first totally disavowing the Hill camp. What Hill accused Thomas of was infinitesimal compared to what Clinton in all likelihood did. After the incidents, the patterns are eerily similar. You can’t swing on two trapezes, you’ve got to let go of one. If you think that Hill was wronged by Thomas, you must think the same of Jones. Conservatives need to remember that, to a lesser extent, it works the other way too.



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