So Bill Clinton has written a 957-page book about his life. It appears to be the literary equivalent of the movie "Airplane!" in which the main character, Ted Striker, kept trying to bore captive passengers with his life story, as they all killed themselves rather than listen to him drone on, and on, and on.
Luckily, nobody actually has to read the entire Clinton memoirs. Nobody should, given Clinton's fathomless credibility problems. Millions of Clinton fans will buy it, and maybe one or two of them will even finish it. But let's be clear about this book. It's an opportunity to recast Clinton's deplorable legacy in a more favorable light. It explains his life with all the cobwebbed Clinton-era spin lines, stale reruns of the Evil Ken Starr and the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
The only surprising take is that Clinton sounds like he now really believes that getting impeached was one of his most honorable moments. Time's Joe Klein, the ex-president's most servile journalistic shoeshine boy, reported Clinton is seeking "not just to discredit Starr, but also to make the war against the ultraconservatives a significant part of his presidential legacy." Klein buys the snake oil, too. He claims Clinton was "more sinned against than sinner."
The Clinton book launch is already creating waves of media hypocrisy in its wake. Anyone who lived through the Year of Our Intern can remember the endless chorus from Clinton and the Democrats and the liberal media of "let's move on." The left-wing group Moveon.org was founded as a get-past-Lewinsky lobby. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was whining about the "dry heaves" he was vomiting over having to cover Monica nightly. Over and over, night after night, the media in 1998 expressed the belief that America was sick of Monica sex. So why is Lewinsky the primary focus of the Clinton book tour? Easy. Sex sells. It sold in 1998, and it sells now. It wasn't the Republicans who were hopelessly fixated on the issue. It was - and is - the press.
Indeed, conservatives maintained all along that all the other Clinton scandals were far more important than the adultery. The Clintons tried to enrich themselves in Arkansas through shady real-estate partners and sleazy cattle-futures trades. That wasn't about sex.
They fired career employees of the White House Travel Office and replaced them with Clinton relatives, and directed travel business to their crony Harry Thomason. That wasn't about sex.
They requested confidential FBI background files on hundreds of employees of previous Republican administrations. That wasn't about sex.
They secretly urged the Iranians to arm the Bosnian Muslim fighters, going around a U.N. arms embargo, an Islamic Iran-Contra affair. That wasn't about sex.
The list of non-sexual scandals and outrages goes on, with enough data to fill another book of 950 pages. But nobody remembers in the ratings-obsessed media, because it wasn't about sex.
But the press is just uncritically echoing Clinton's boast about how he "beat" Ken Starr and that man's obsession with sex, and leaving out the perjury issue. Dan Rather mentioned perjury only once in his fawn-a-thon, as he described Clinton's videotaped August testimony: "His testimony was tortured. And he used careful legalistic language to avoid perjuring himself."
Hit the rewind button to January 2001. It all ended with a Clinton surrender. As lawyer Mark Levin has noted, Clinton did not challenge Judge Susan Webber Wright's contempt of court holding for misleading testimony. He did not challenge the U.S. Supreme Court when it ruled him unfit to practice law before it. He did not challenge the Arkansas Supreme Court's 5-year suspension of his law license. But now, Clinton says he won.
In Time magazine, unctuous Joe Klein didn't even mention the P word, even as the magazine excerpted without comment this ridiculous nugget from Clinton's book, in which he even lies about his lying: "Since 1991 I had been called a liar about everything under the sun, when in fact I had been honest in my public life and financial affairs, as all the investigations would show."
Instead, Klein's story focused, just like his hero, on Clinton's enemies. Clinton's case against Starr is "a lawyer's case, careful and powerful." Starr was "unseemly and irresponsible," and the press "was way too credulous" of Starr's allegations. Which planet did Joe Klein live on? Within three days of his appointment in 1994, Dan Rather was suggesting Starr was "a Republican partisan allied with a get-Clinton movement."
The media were never soft on Starr. They promoted this self-indulgent president all the way to the top, and supported him endlessly, even as he took the country all the way to the bottom. They still do today. They will tomorrow. It's a good thing most Americans won't buy the old spin of this boring book of bunk.