Jewish World Review

PapaPaul febboy at IX.NETCOM.COM
Mon Feb 16 22:09:20 MST 1998

Folks, Jewish World Review ( ) has some
really good writers, many of them libertarian/conservative.  The following
story, by Jacob Sullum, made me cheer:

Feeling his pain... and a little pleasure

A WEEK AFTER ZIPPERGATE broke, CNN presented two hours of self-flagellation
in which a panel of journalists pondered whether their coverage of the
scandal amounted to "media madness." At one point, host Jeff Greenfield
asked the panelists whether they were enjoying the story -- a sin none of
them was prepared to confess.

CNN legal analyst Greta Van Susteren came closest, saying, "I find this
very interesting and have read almost everything, and I wish I hadn't, and
I'm embarrassed of that." By contrast, CBS anchor Dan Rather piously
declared, "I hate this story, everything about this story. ...I hate it
because I love my country."

Well, call me unpatriotic, but I love this story, and I'm not embarrassed
to admit it. The O.J. case barely piqued my interest. I could not fathom
the attention to Princess Di, dead or alive. But I am fascinated by this
Zippergate stuff. I flip from one news channel to another, eagerly await
the morning headlines and read all the sidebars and transcripts.

Zippergate is funny and bizarre, titillating and suspenseful, vastly
entertaining and richly satisfying. On top of all that, it's good for the
republic. What more could you want from a scandal?

I remember listening to the radio while driving to work the day Anita Hill
testified about Clarence Thomas's bad manners. As the senators solemnly
questioned her regarding porn movies and pubic hairs on Coke cans, I
started laughing. Like much of what Congress does, it was amazing and
ridiculous. But I felt a little guilty about being amused. I didn't think
Thomas deserved to be vilified, even if he had made a few inappropriate
comments at the office.

In the case of Zippergate, I feel no such compunction. The Clintons, who
are unrivaled in their ability to combine sleaziness and
self-righteousness, deserve every bit of humiliation and inconvenience they
are suffering. The shady deals, the misplaced evidence, the illegal
contributions, the unauthorized snooping, the vindictive character
assassination and the routine dissembling are pretty much what we expect
from politicians. But the bragging about high ethical standards and the
lectures on the need for civility, responsibility and altruism -- that is
hard to take.

One of the wonderful things about Zippergate is the way it showcases the
Clintons' hypocrisy, forcing them to look us in the eye and indignantly
tell us bald-faced lies over and over again. The task is made easier by
their refusal to discuss any details of the president's relationship with
Monica Lewinsky. Clinton says he's constrained by the ongoing
investigation, which is true: He has to wait and see what evidence Ken
Starr produces before he can decide what really happened.

Now, many people say that what went on between the president and the intern
is none of Starr's business, and I tend to agree. I'm no fan of the
Independent Counsel Statute or of sexual harassment law, the basis for the
Paula Jones suit that put Bill and Monica on the spot to begin with.

But Clinton is in no position to complain about either. He pushed for
reauthorization of the law that gives prosecutors like Starr free rein, and
he is allied with the feminists and trial lawyers who seek to make federal
cases out of lewd remarks and dirty jokes.

What's more, Clinton long ago forfeited any claim to keep his adultery
private. During the 1992 campaign, when Gennifer Flowers started making the
rounds, he could have declined to comment, insisting that his relationship
with her was irrelevant. But he wasn't prepared to take that chance.
Instead, he went on 60 Minutes and denied the affair.

Still, is lying about such things, even under oath, an impeachable offense?
I hope not. I do not relish the thought of President Al Gore. I rather like
the current situation, with a story about Zippergate on the front page of
The New York Times every day, leaving the president politically crippled
despite his soaring popularity.

I probably would feel differently if I thought Clinton might do something
worthwhile during the next few years. But on almost every issue -- free
speech, privacy, property rights, drug policy, gun control, health care,
education -- he has favored government power over individual freedom.
Clinton keeps saying he has to "get back to the work of the country." Given
his record, I don't see how any good could come of that.

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