The Monica-go-round

Word comes of a new book which is certain to appeal to prurient interests and establish its author as a branch of the U.S. Mint.

With a headline screaming “Monica Lewinsky,” one reviewer calls the book “a scholarly work.” Under the titillating title, "The Death of American Virtue" (Come on!), the 769-page book by Duquesne University law professor Ken Gormley, is deemed by the reviewer “well-researched.”

OK, go get all the juicy details HERE, then hit the backspace button for a few somewhat dull, but equally important FACTS on one facet of Gormley’s findings.

Now that you have read about the book, as I know any discriminating reader will, I’m going to brush aside the Monica bit – not that I excuse Bill Clinton’s actions, I don’t – and concentrate here on what the author apparently writes about Whitewater and Ken Starr. Remember that sideshow to the whole Monica Lewinsky–Linda Tripp saga?

I dug into my blog archives over at “I See My Dreams” and will recycle for your enlightment my post of 25 June 2007, also “well-researched” if I do say so myself:

Whitewater: case closed

Continuing to listen to Bill Clinton’s autobiography, “My Life.” I transcribed the following excerpt from the tapes, because its subject is going to come up again in the run-up to Election 2008, and I want you, dear reader, to be aware of the other side of the story. And, of what is revealed at the end of this post.

From Chapter 45:

“… (I)n mid-December the complete Whitewater story finally came out when the RTC (Resolution Trust Corporation) Inquiry from Pillsbury, Madison and Sutro was released. The report was written by Jay Stevens, who like Chuck Banks was a Republican former U.S. attorney, whom I had replaced.”

(See “RTC report exonerates Clintons,” Congressional Record, December 1995: LINK)

“It said, as had the preliminary report in June, that there were no grounds for a civil suit against us in Whitewater, much less any criminal action, and it recommended that the investigation be closed.

“This is what The New York Times and The Washington Post wanted to know when they called for an independent counsel. I eagerly awaited their coverage.

“Immediately after the RTC report was released, the Post mentioned it in passing in the 11th paragraph of a front-page story about an unrelated subpoena battle with (Ken) Starr. And, The New York Times didn’t run a word.

“The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Washington Times ran an Associated Press story of about 400 words on the inside pages of their papers.

“The TV networks didn’t cover the RTC report, though ABC’s Ted Koppel reported it on “Nightline,” then dismissed its importance, because there were ‘so many new questions.’

“Whitewater wasn’t about Whitewater any more: it was about whatever Ken Starr could dig up on anybody in Arkansas or my administration.

“In the meantime, some Whitewater reporters were actually covering up evidence of our innocence. To be fair, some journalists took note.

“Washington Post writer Howard Kurtz wrote an article pointing out the way the RTC report had been buried. And, Lars Erik Nelson, a columnist for The New York Daily News, who had been a correspondent in the Soviet Union, wrote, ‘The secret verdict is in: there was nothing for the Clintons to hide. In a bizarre reversal of those Stalin-era trials in which innocent people were convicted in secret, the president and the first lady have been publicly charged and secretly found innocent.’

“I was genuinely confused by the mainstream press coverage of Whitewater. It seemed inconsistent with the more careful and balanced approach the press had taken on other issues, at least since the Republicans won Congress in 1994.

“One day, after one of our budget meetings in October, I asked Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming to stay a moment to talk. Simpson was a conservative Republican, but we had a pretty good relationship, because of the friendship we had in common with his governor, Mike Sullivan.

“I asked Alan if he thought Hillary and I had done anything wrong in Whitewater. ‘Of course not,’ he said, ‘that’s not what this is about. This is about making the public think you did something wrong. Anybody who looked at the evidence would see that you didn’t.’ ”


And, Starr’s investigation was about more than Whitewater. In early 1998, Starr won authorization to expand his investigation to include the Lewinsky scandal, and questions about Monica Lewinsky's relationship with Clinton quickly overshadowed Whitewater matters.

Of note: in late 1998, when Starr presented his case for impeachment of the president for his attempts to conceal the Lewinsky affair, he indicated that his office had NO impeachable evidence in the Whitewater matters.

Starr resigned in October 1999 and was succeeded by Robert W. Ray, the senior litigation counsel in Starr's office. In September 2000, Ray ended the Whitewater inquiry, stating there was insufficient evidence to prove that President Clinton or his wife had committed any crime in connection with the failed real estate venture or the independent counsel's investigation into it.

The final report was issued 18 months later.

In February 1999, CNN’s Terry Friedan wrote:

“Expenditures by Independent Counsel Ken Starr's office have officially surpassed the $40 million mark, according to new Justice Department figures. … The figures show that Starr's office, through the end of November 1998, had spent $40,835,000. … Those figures do not include costs incurred by Starr's predecessor, Robert Fiske, whose office spent about $6 million before Starr was appointed to lead the investigation.” LINK

There are continuing allegations that the Clintons murdered their longtime Arkansas friend Vince Foster, although his death was officially ruled a suicide, and there is the ongoing reduction of the amazing life stories of Bill and Hillary Clinton into a two-word summary: Monica Lewinsky.

I was telling a young friend how impressed I am with Clinton’s ability to recall life’s events and his skill at keeping the reader engaged, and her response was, “Has Slick Willy mentioned Monica?”

How sad, I thought, that such a life could be so trivialized by one tragic flaw, especially by those who do not care to read the rest of the story.


Tiny said...

Tiny always said Ken Starr would would be known as the highest paid "Peeping Tom" in the histody of the world. Anyone want to conjecture which historian will write that book?

To say "... 'the president and the first lady have been publicly charged and secretly found innocent'," sure hits the nail on the head with that ordeal. But look where the Clintons are today. Their public service continues, not just in this country, but world wide.

Remember too that the congress people accusing President Clinton were guilty of having affairs at the same time, which shows that "Guilty dogs bark the loudest."

Good post BJ.

Leslie Parsley said...

I have always liked Clinton and I think the Whitewater and Foster accusations were clearly bogus. I'm not sure the Lewinsky affair was an impeachable offence (it wasn't for Sanford), but I question his taste in women for selecting the little twit.

Alan Simpson was from Wyoming and of solid pioneer stock. A very wise man.

Starr was a different version of our friend Lieberman.

I bet to those young whipper-snappers this is ancient history. I really can't imagine anyone taking the the time and energy to write about Lewinsky, especially after all these years.