The Corner

Sullivan’s Worry

Andrew Sullivan frets that that the Republicans might be behind the Kerry story and he posts a long letter which more or less takes it as a given that they are. I agree that it would be bad and stupid if the GOP was behind this. And I agree that we have more important things to argue about right now. (And I agree with Rick that the Republicans should shut up about the whole thing).

But why Andrew is so credulous is beyond me. The Republicans I’ve talked to today, including one in the administration, all think that the timing of this story doesn’t really help Republicans much. That may be right or wrong, who knows, they certainly didn’t know anything about the origins of this story. But we know from that Craig Crawford email that Chris Lehane has been “shopping around” the story for a while and that Clark himself has been alluding to Kerry’s “intern” problem (I’m hearing it’s not really an intern, by the way, but that’s entirely unverified). How exactly does that sound like a Republican-driven story?

Sullivan’s correspondent frets that the Republicans are once again “taking us down the Lewinsky path. Well, two points about that. First of all, the person — the only person — who took us down that path was Bill Clinton.

Second, as for the meaning of that whole episode I’ve long disagreed with Andrew’s

interpretation of the whole Lewinsky scandal. His “Scolds” piece in the New York Times magazine moved the whole “conservatives are obsessed about sex” storyline very far down the field and in my opinion did considerable damage to the conservative cause. And while he may have been right about some conservatives, he painted with way too broad a brush, in my opinion. For example, he wrote “For the new conservatives, the counterattack on homosexual legitimacy is of a piece with the battle against Presidential adultery.” And, as someone who was pretty deeply involved in the Lewinsky battles, I can say that was simply untrue in my own experience.

Regardless, maybe Andrew knows something that gives credence to his fears that the GOP is behind this. But it sounds to me like he’s getting ahead of himself.

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