Monday, June 13, 2005

Chill Out about the Klein "Smear," Folks

Well, well, well. It seems that there's yet another salacious rumor set to come out about the Bonnie & Clyde of American politics, only this one doesn't involve ditzy beauty queens or pudgy interns:

"I'm going back to my cottage to rape my wife," Klein quotes Bill Clinton as saying during a Bermuda getaway in 1979.

In the morning, the Clintons' room "looked like World War III. There are pillows and busted-up furniture all over the place," an unnamed source tells Klein.

Klein's source claims Bill later learned Hillary was pregnant reading about it in the Arkansas Gazette.

"The fact that his wife didn't tell him that she was pregnant before she told a reporter doesn't seem to phase him one bit, because he says, 'Do you know what night that happened?"

"'No,' I say. 'When?"

"'It was Bermuda,' he says, 'And you were there!'"

So allegedly writes former Newsweek editor Ed Klein in his crack at a Clinton expose, The Truth About Hillary.

For some reason, this has evoked, at minimum, two storms of blogospheric outrage - from the right hemisphere.

A.J. Strata:

What in the world is going on where an author claims a beloved child is the result of a rape. Drudge has a report of a total loser making this disgusting claim about the Clinton’s and Chelsea.

I will defend Chelsea and her loving parents against this garbage. Even if true, which I seriously doubt, who does it help (no one) and who does it hurt (Chelsea). I am nearly positive this rotten allegation will send this moron to the dustbin of history. And EVERY decent human being who is a parent should be outraged. Not at a party, but one pathetic individual....

I cannot believe how much this has angered me. Drudge points out the author is not what one would call a conservative writer, so motivations are in question. But the blogosphere must stand up and find out what they were and expose them. I have heard the left say ‘we must take out country back’. In this case we must.

This kind of stuff must end now, here....

Trust me when I say I was so stunned I tried to send out a clarion call to every conservative blogger I have read and some I have recently had the honor to get to know. Ed Morrissey is one I blogger I do not know beyond being an avid reader of his site. But he too sees this is something beyond what we conservatives want in political discourse.

This from a self-proclaimed member of the "Coalition of the Chillin'".

Speaking of the Cap'n, he was scarcely any less self-consciously obsequious:

If Drudge has this quote and context correct, it's a mind-boggling anecdote to put into anyone's biography - and a completely inexcusable and ridiculous claim. It's difficult to think of a more personal, disgusting, and indefensible accusation to toss at someone than to claim he raped his wife. Adding that they conceived their only child out of an act of violence adds another dimension of shamelessness to Klein's allegation.

Count me as one conservative blogger who is not the slightest bit interested in this "clarion call" to pre-emptively kiss the Clintons' collective ass.

First of all, there's the qualifier "If Drudge has this quote and context correct." Drudge has a decent track record for accuracy, but he has been known to indulge in a bit of sensationalism from time to time.

Second, tossing this (alleged) excerpt out there in advance of the book's release sounds like SHP (standard hyping procedure) to me. And now a megablog has taken the bait. Mission accomplished.

As to the excerpt itself, a literal context renders the whole thing a ridiculous cartoon. While Bill Clinton does have at least one (alleged) rape to his "credit," (Juanita Brodderick, in case any have forgotten), and probably couldn't get sex out of the Dragon Queen via consensual means most of the time, if a man is going to commit pre-meditated rape, against his wife or anybody else, he's not going to tell anybody about it beforehand. His supposed comment to this "unnamed source" that, "I'm going back to my cottage to rape my wife," sounds like lockerroom repartee at worst, not a sober declaration of intent.

If the room looked "like World War III" the following morning, it suggests either that Bill wasn't a very efficient "rapist," or that their love life had an unusual fondness for acrobatics.

In case there's any uncertainty, no, I don't take this "anonymous account" of Chelsea Clinton's conception seriously. But is it a "smear"?

I can certainly see why the Clintons would want to play it up that way. Make themselves look sympathetic, trundle the "vast right-wing conspiracy" meme out of mothballs, and garner publicity for Hillary's already-well-underway 2008 presidential campaign. If there's a most likely explanation for Mr. Klein's motivation in including this "rape" anecdote, it's that he's playing his pre-determined role in the ongoing project to reshape Mrs. Clinton's public image into something that can get over in at least a handful of "red" states. Or, in so many words, this kerfuffle is just another Clinton PR scam. And Strata and Morrissey, in their reflexively squeamish desire not to be associated with "Clinton hatred," are falling for it hook, line, and sinker.

But even if it is a genuine allegation and qualifies as a smear, I won't be moved by it much one way or the other. For the king and queen of smears to finally end up on the receiving end would come across as poetic justice as far as I'm concerned. Certainly I'd be crying no rivers over any reputational damage done to two loathsome individuals who have destroyed many a life by those very same means for many a nefarious purpose. Seems like it would be a case of "just desserts."

Or at least it would if it were possible to "smear" the Clintons. And that's where all their scandals help to insulate them. How do you "smear" people for whom the truth is far more lethal than any conceivable lie? As alluded to earlier, Mr. Bill does have a track record of sexually accosting women. And given that he essentially sold U.S. military secrets to the Red Chinese for re-election campaign cash, his fleshly hobbies seem to be the metaphorical appetizers at their buffet of corruption, though no less indicative of its ubiquitiously pervasive nature.

And they got away with all of it. So just exactly how would this Klein blurb be so damaging? And why would the center-right blogosphere need to interject itself into an extraneous scuffle on behalf of political foes who are guaranteed to tar it with culpability anyway?

Here's a free clue, ladies and gents: we're in a political war, and we don't get brownie points for fairness or magnanimity. Doesn't mean we need to cheer what the good Captain aptly dubbed "tawdry Weekly World News gossip/hit pieces" at the opposition's expense, but silence and circumspection seem to me to be more than sufficient when fratricide breaks out on the other side of the aisle.

If the libs are going to descend to political cannibalism, for heaven's sake, let's let 'em.

UPDATE: Welcome aboard, MarkInMexico readers! Be prepared for what is proving to be a dissenting take on this Klein kerfuffle - but one that will, ultimately, be vindicated.

I'm used to it by now....

UPDATE II: I think Brother Meringoff strikes just the right note on this matter:

[C]onservatives should eschew Ed Klein's story (as reported by Drudge) that Bill Clinton raped Hillary, etc. Klein has a right to include the story in his book, subject to the libel laws. But even if it's true (and it strikes me as highly implausible and insufficiently supported even by the "evidence" Klein apparently cites), it's not germane to Hillary's candidacy for the Senate or President. (I know that "clever" people can construct an attenuated argument as to why it is germane, but that kind of thing is the specialty of the left and we shouldn't play the game). There will be plenty of genuine issues of policy and, yes, character to raise against Hillary. Let's stick to those.

Couldn't put it any better myself. And you'll note that none of the above requires conservatives to become the de facto Clinton palace guard.

If maintaining our "credibility" were to henceforth require stridently proactive defense of our political foes against personal attacks and innuendo from their own side, then that would consign one more word to the dustbin of etymological incoherence.

Thanks, but I'll pass.

Nice to see I'm not alone in those sentiments, though.