Rereading the classics

As some of you may know, I’m addicted to the Washington Post online chats. During a chat just before Xmas, Larry Sabato advised:

If you have even a few spare hours over the holidays, then read or re-read Robert Penn Warren’s ALL THE KING’S MEN. Its universal lessons apply to so many current events.

Normally, I don’t take advice from pundits who style themselves so closely after John Waters, but I went ahead and read the book and was glad I did. All the Kings’s Men is by far the best book about politics I’ve ever read.

So I’m going to advise you, if you have a few spare minutes today or tomorrow, then read or reread (I imagine many of you have already read it) the most important article about the Washington Establishment I’ve ever read. It’s Sally Quinn’s piece about Villager attitudes towards Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewisnky. The whole article is so edifying that it’s hard to know what to excerpt but here’s a try:

With some exceptions, the Washington Establishment is outraged by the president’s behavior in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The polls show that a majority of Americans do not share that outrage. Around the nation, people are disgusted but want to move on; in Washington, despite Clinton’s gains with the budget and the Mideast peace talks, people want some formal acknowledgment that the president’s behavior has been unacceptable

[…]

In addition to the polls and surveys, this disconnect between the Washington Establishment and the rest of the country is evident on TV and radio talk shows and in interviews and conversations with more than 100 Washingtonians for this article. The din about the scandal has subsided in the news as politicians and journalists fan out across the country before tomorrow’s elections. But in Washington, interest remains high.

“It’s much more personal here,” says pollster Geoff Garin. “This is an affront to their world. It affects the dignity of the place where they live and work. . . . Clinton’s behavior is unacceptable. If they did this at the local Elks Club hall in some other community it would be a big cause for concern.”

“The judgment is harsher in Washington,” says The Post’s Broder. “We don’t like being lied to.”

As I said before, many of you have likely read this before, but read it again. It is a timeless piece that never loses its power to shock. Think about this, for example: If they did this at the local Elks Club hall in some other community it would be a big cause for concern. Is that in any way true? I live a pretty staid life and off the top of my head I can think of four acquaintances who have had extramarital affairs much more sordid than this. My own State Senator (who belongs to all sorts of Elk Lodge type groups) was reportedly beaten to a pulp by a town sheriff when he was caught in flagrante delicto with the sheriff’s wife. And no one in his district (which is literally almost the same district in which Big Russ himself dwells) cared.

This is the no socks phenomenon all over again: Washington Insiders project their own stupidity onto the American public. There’s no evidence that voters care whether or not politicians wear socks (indeed the case of Sockless Jerry Simpson argues to the contrary) and there’s no evidence Elk Lodgers get their panties in a twist over extramarital affairs.

And how about this? We don’t like being lied to. I won’t bore you by enumerating the Bush lies about torture, WMD, Scooter Libby, etc. but how on earth could a Washington scribe claim he didn’t like being lied to?

Maybe I’ve been reading too much Bob Somerby lately. But I still don’t think the horror of this piece has really sunk in with many people yet, even eight years after it was written.






95 replies
  1. 1
    dopealope says:

    I agree about "All the King’s Men": it’s a wonderful book. I’ve probably read it 5 times in the past 20 years, and each time have enjoyed it as much as the first. Jack Burden is probably one of my all time favorite characters in fiction, and I have been enamored with concept of the "Great Twitch" since my first reading.

  2. 2
    DougJ says:

    I agree about "All the King’s Men": it’s a wonderful book. I’ve probably read it 5 times in the past 20 years, and each time have enjoyed it as much as the first.

    This was my first time through and it blew me away. Part of it is that Huey Long is such a fascinating figure to base a character on, part of it is that Burden is such a great character. Part of it is how well Warren writes.

  3. 3

    That Quinn piece was and remains boggling. I can only explain it as myth: it was the story the Villagers kept telling each other about what they were feeling and why, and if you asked them they honestly believed it — even though they clearly didn’t *honestly* believe it. I don’t know if "myth" is the right word — tall tale? rationalization? legend? religion?

    What do you call a story someone tells about themselves that is objectively untrue, which cannot logically be true, but is clearly what the teller believes — in the sense of, keeps repeating with no awareness that they are saying an untruth.

  4. 4
    DougJ says:

    What do you call a story someone tells about themselves that is objectively untrue, which cannot logically be true, but is clearly what the teller believes—in the sense of, keeps repeating with no awareness that they are saying an untruth.

    I’m sure there’s a word for it, but I can’t remember off the top of my head. When I was in college, I took some literary theory classes, thinking they’d be fun but useless. I can honestly say that all that stuff about unstable narratives and the like is what most helps me understand the musings of the Beltway media.

  5. 5
    KCinDC says:

    John Waters? Surely the most distinctive feature of John Waters’ personal appearance is his pencil mustache, which Larry Sabato doesn’t have. I don’t see any resemblance, unless you also think David Axelrod and Thomas Friedman and Captain Kangaroo and John Bolton are styling themselves after John Waters.

  6. 6
    KCinDC says:

    Not to mention Saddam Hussein, who no doubt employed Waters as one of his doubles.

  7. 7
    DougJ says:

    unless you also think David Axelrod and Thomas Friedman and Captain Kangaroo and John Bolton are styling themselves after John Waters.

    I do.

  8. 8
    DougJ says:

    Not to mention Saddam Hussein, who no doubt employed Waters as one of his doubles.

    He also had a cameo in Pink Flamingos.

  9. 9
    Church Lady says:

    For a perfect example of a Washington insider’s hate for Bill Clinton, look no further than Chris Matthews. For Tweety, everything boils down to the blow job. I don’t know whether it’s his Catholicism that drives it, or some sense of betrayal, or even being jealous that no one is offering to let him stain their blue Gap dress, but the contempt and hatred are always evident when the subject is either one of the Clintons

  10. 10
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    But I still don’t think the horror of this piece has really sunk in with many people yet, even eight years after it was written.

    Doesn’t Digby run it once a month on schedule?

  11. 11
    John Cole says:

    What do you call a story someone tells about themselves that is objectively untrue, which cannot logically be true, but is clearly what the teller believes—in the sense of, keeps repeating with no awareness that they are saying an untruth.

    In real America, the place these morons are allegedly experts on, we have a word for that kind of story.

    A lie.

  12. 12

    Re: And how about this? We don’t like being lied to.

    I got bumped up to first class for some reason on a flight out of D.C. in the waning Clinton years. An intense-looking woman sat next to me and we exchanged niceties, and she introduced herself as Al Gore’s Chief of Something. There was a storm system over Ohio and the plane had to re-route around it, causing us to be late, and this woman to miss her connection. She was going to miss some minor family event.

    So she started screaming at the flight attendant, who patiently explained the situation to her. I’ll just speculate that her motivation was to get some free flight credit, but when we finally landed, she demanded to see the pilot. She then completely misrepresented the conversation she had with the flight attendant to the pilot.

    This seemed odd to me, as I had strong faith in our system of government back then. She ended up getting nothing. I explained the situation to the pilot. Ha ha.

  13. 13
    DougJ says:

    Doesn’t Digby run it once a month on schedule?

    I still encounter many otherwise informed people who don’t understand what a farce the Beltway reaction to the affair was. (I know, more people should read Digby.)

  14. 14
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @DougJ:

    (I know, more people should read Digby.)

    Yep, for awhile there after the primary she was practically unreadable as ma puma wailed for her mauled tigress and wanted to indict the world for the sins of Chris Matthews. But she’s got it together again.

  15. 15
    Xanthippas says:

    I don’t know much about historian Michael Beschloss or his scholarship, but this quote is unfortunate:

    We don’t want to hang him," says Gergen. "There’s a sense that we all want to clear this up. And there’s a maddening frustration that the political system doesn’t have a set of penalties for this kind of activity." "The founding fathers let us down," adds Beschloss. "He shouldn’t get by with it," says Baker. "The question is, what can the Senate do short of removal?"

    So the lesson from that whole mess is that the Founding Fathers let us down?

  16. 16
    DougJ says:

    So the lesson from that whole mess is that the Founding Fathers let us down?

    I’ve always thought Beschloss was a douchebag. The poor man’s Robert Dallek.

  17. 17
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @DougJ:

    Try reading his poetry sometime. Amazing.

  18. 18
    Kat says:

    >> Washington Insiders project their own stupidity onto the American public.

    No, they expected the public to be stupid enough to believe their lies. But we didn’t buy their faux outrage — we saw it as just more of the usual partisan politics that it actually was.

  19. 19
    Delia says:

    “The judgment is harsher in Washington,” says The Post’s Broder. “We don’t like being lied to.”

    This is one way of rationalizing it, of course. The Clintons weren’t their kind of people, so they had to hunt around until they found some reason to pearl-clutch about them and do their best to discredit them. Then they did their best to fix the next election to get a Bush in power, because, of course, that family is their sort. And look how well all that turned out.

    I would really, really like to see all the Villagers who colluded in making Bush president and keeping him there banished to the current strongholds of the GOP. They can listen to their compatriots make racist and homophobic jokes and attend unutterably bad church services. That’s the party they made and they should lie down with it.

  20. 20
    JGabriel says:

    Doctor Science:

    What do you call a story someone tells about themselves that is objectively untrue, which cannot logically be true, but is clearly what the teller believes—in the sense of, keeps repeating with no awareness that they are saying an untruth.

    They’re usually called: delusions.

    The people who tell such stories are typically diagnosed as schizophrenics or with borderline personality disorder – colloquially they are frequently known as "Republicans".

    .

  21. 21
    DougJ says:

    They can listen to their compatriots make racist and homophobic jokes and attend unutterably bad church services. That’s the party they made and they should lie down with it.

    I still feel like I don’t understand these people. You know, I saw a PBS special about the Mayans and how they gave themselves alcohol enemas and that made sense to me. I saw one about the Aztecs and their human sacrifice hootenanies and it didn’t make much sense to me why they would do that. The Quinn article is like a documentary on Aztec human sacrifice rituals.

  22. 22
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @DougJ:

    You know, I saw a PBS special about the Mayans and how they gave themselves alcohol enemas and that made sense to me.

    Drunk ass motherfuckers, right?! GMTA, brother.

  23. 23
    JGabriel says:

    GMTA? Explainy?

    .

  24. 24
    Jay Severin Has A Small Pen1s says:

    I have two small children, ages 4 and 6. I tell them everyday that lying about a blowjob is much worse than lying about a war that results in hundreds of thousands dead and two countries in ruins. I just hope starting them off this early can save them.

  25. 25
    DougJ says:

    GMTA? Explainy?

    It’s a google.

  26. 26

    The Founding Fathers? Lets see, Tom J was banging slave Sally and everybody knew it and so the R paragons have something to say? Um, anybody remember what lurks behind their outrage? How was it A Hamilton ended up? Read the "news" papers of the time if anybody thinks it’s a little rough these days.

  27. 27

    Impeachment was ridiculous. That said, I thought that the Lewinsky affair showed an appalling lack of moral standards on the part of Bill Clinton. Cheating on your spouse is bad enough. It’s pretty common, so it isn’t the end of the world, but I still find it repellent.*

    Bill Clinton did much worse. He took advantage of a young woman who was in a subordinate position, and used her. Yes, Monica Lewinsky was an adult, and is responsible for her own actions. That does not change the responsibility for someone who heads an office from a position of extreme power to treat those who work for him properly.

    I grew up in an academic household, so I think of it in terms of a senior professor getting his students to sleep with him. It is wildly inappropriate on so many levels. This was one of the things that appalled me about Richard Feynman’s memoirs.

    You just don’t do this stuff. I thought that Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky should have been a firing offense, even if it was just about the sex. The only thing that kept me from supporting impeachment is that it was so clear that there was a very different game being played. Had it been possible to hold an impeachment on just the issue of abusing your employees, without all of the other political baggage that came with it, I’d have been in favor. Of course, it wouldn’t have happened without that baggage.

    Please note that it is not the adultery that I raise to this level of objection. It is the taking advantage of power relationships.

    *Here, I use the phrase "cheating on your spouse" very deliberately. In most marriages, there is a rule that you don’t sleep with anyone who is not your spouse. Adultery, then, is cheating. I don’t get upset at the sex. I get upset that the person promised something, sexual exclusivity, and is breaking their promise. If it’s a marriage where the parties have an agreement that monogamy is not something that they have promised each other, more power to them. Have fun sleeping around. Just not with your intern.

  28. 28
    The Moar You Know says:

    The Clinton thing was easy. I understood it then and now. The Clintons were perceived as white trash interlopers. That probably would have been fine, had they left it at Big Macs and french fries, but then Bill went and got himself some from exactly the kind of white trash bimbo that "everyone" knew appealed to low-class Bubbas.

    That right there was the crime. Had he been banging some taut supple young thing, like Eliot Spitzer did, it would have been seen as regrettable. But it would not have ignited the firestorm of over-the-top outrage and butthurt that the pundit and political class indulged in when it became public. Bill Clinton actually did what FDR was unsuccessfully accused of – for the crime of banging a porker, he was a judged a traitor to his adopted class, the Washington aristocracy.

  29. 29
    Delia says:

    @DougJ:

    I’ll tell you what disturbs me. I’ve seen some of these people on the teevee talky-talky shows who are not themselves ranting homophobic creationist fundamentalist lunatics. They may well be conservative free market high church Episcopalians or something who don’t give a rat’s ass what other people do in their bedrooms. Or privately they may not be religious at all. But for political reasons they’re quite happy to align themselves with the racist homophobic wingnuts and seem to blithely close their eyes to all the damage the VRWC did to the body politic and, indeed, to the whole world along the way. The true wingnuts, like Palin and Huckabee, are one thing. They’re true believers and a topic for another time. But the Villagers who think they can have their own cozy little world and make their little alliances to keep it the way it’s always been and to hell with the rest of us. . . . Well, I really do think they should be forced to go live in the movie Deliverance or something.

  30. 30
    DougJ says:

    Bill Clinton did much worse. He took advantage of a young woman who was in a subordinate position, and used her. Yes, Monica Lewinsky was an adult, and is responsible for her own actions. That does not change the responsibility for someone who heads an office from a position of extreme power to treat those who work for him properly.

    Thomas Jefferson slept with *his slave*. Isn’t that worse? And however much power Clinton had over Lewinsky, it’s not as much as Bush had over detainees. And however much Lewinsky might have felt used, she would have felt a lot worse if she’d been tortured.

    But Bechbloss is right — the Founding Fathers let us down by not explicitly drafting a Constitutional statute for dealing with presidents who have sex with their underlings.

  31. 31
    DougJ says:

    Well, I really do think they should be forced to go live in the movie Deliverance or something.

    I’ve always suspected George Will and David Brooks might enjoy that.

  32. 32
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    white trash bimbo

    What? Monica Lewinsky wasn’t a white trash bimbo. Her dad was a doctor and her mom was an author. She grew up in Beverly Hills. To the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, white trash bimbos can’t obtain intern jobs in the white house.

  33. 33
    Delia says:

    Seems to me Monica Lewinsky went after Bill. I believe I remember reading at the time that she had had affairs with men in positions of power in her junior college or some such thing. I hold Clinton responsible for not having more sense when he knew that the GOP was already after him for anything they could find. But that’s not in itself an impeachable offense. Only self-destructive idiocy.

  34. 34
    DougJ says:

    What? Monica Lewinsky wasn’t a white trash bimbo.

    In the eyes of the Villagers, she was one. These are the same people who saw George W. Bush as a great leader, so their perception is not the same as yours or mine.

  35. 35
    TheAssInTheHatOnMyCat(Formerly Comrade Tax Analyst) says:

    What do you call a story someone tells about themselves that is objectively untrue, which cannot logically be true, but is clearly what the teller believes—in the sense of, keeps repeating with no awareness that they are saying an untruth.

    I don’t know what you would call the story, but those Washington insiders must have an amazing tolerance for cognitive dissonance…a mere mortal would probably be overcome and unable to stand under the weight of having that much bullshit bouncing around inside their domes.

  36. 36
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Actually the Clinton thing has nothing to do with sex at all. It’s just typical tribal behavior whether it’s the established political overclass in DC snubbing the new guy or the established kids in elementary school snubbing the new guy or the established commenters on a popular blog snubbing the new guy or..

    Well, you get my point. It’s just people being people.

  37. 37
    DougJ says:

    It’s just typical tribal behavior whether it’s the established political overclass in DC snubbing the new guy or the established kids in elementary school snubbing the new guy or the established commenters on a popular blog snubbing the new guy or..

    Well, that’s some of it. But I think that there’s something else going on, something that I can’t understand the same way I can’t understand human sacrifice or people who like Ayn Rand novels.

  38. 38
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @DougJ:

    These are the same people who saw George W. Bush as a great leader

    Oh, that’s probably overstated. He is one of them, that’s all. His daddy was President, he grew up in the Washington culture, knows ’em all already, prolly has ’em all on his mom’s damn Christmas card list. Our tribe covers for us and obviously Danger Monkey needed a lot of covering for.

  39. 39
    TheAssInTheHatOnMyCat(Formerly Comrade Tax Analyst) says:

    What? Monica Lewinsky wasn’t a white trash bimbo.

    Yes, Monica Lewinsky could be accused of several things and quite possibly found guilty of many of them as far as her tastes and judgment go, but it never seemed to me that she was a WTB, or that she even aspired to White Trash Bimbohood. I surmised she liked being close to the seat of power, although it appears she got a lot more of the meat of power than the seat*.

    {*Disclaimer – not having been there, this is, of course, pure speculation}

  40. 40
    Delia says:

    @DougJ:

    Well, I really do think they should be forced to go live in the movie Deliverance or something.

    I’ve always suspected George Will and David Brooks might enjoy that.

    Please throw Cokie Roberts in as well. She really deserves it, especially after her snide little Myrtle Beach crack about Obama’s Hawaii trip.

  41. 41
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Please throw Cokie Roberts in as well.

    Fixed.

  42. 42
    DougJ says:

    Please throw Cokie Roberts in as well.

    I don’t get that vibe from Cokie. I think Will and Brooks might really be into it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  43. 43
    TheAssInTheHatOnMyCat(Formerly Comrade Tax Analyst) says:

    Oh, that’s probably overstated. He is one of them, that’s all. His daddy was President, he grew up in the Washington culture, knows ‘em all already, prolly has ‘em all on his mom’s damn Christmas card list.

    Heck, he prol’ly dunn gib dem all nikknames, 2.

  44. 44
    McMillan says:

    That washington post article was bizarre to read. I was just old enough to begin becoming politically aware while all that was going on. I can’t help but think that my cynicism is at least partially caused by the fact that my earliest memories of political situations include such BS scandals. There were also a few lines that reminded me that I need to pick up this book sometime soon.

    Though that piece was somewhat redeemed by the inclusion of this sentence:

    You can’t do Paula Jones, the lawyers, tobacco and Monica all at once.

    With this crowd I can’t be the only one that got a chuckle out of that.

  45. 45
    DougJ says:

    His daddy was President, he grew up in the Washington culture, knows ‘em all already, prolly has ‘em all on his mom’s damn Christmas card list.

    That’s some of it. But I think there’s something weirder going on as well. I think there’s some part of it where they take their own silly, condescending view of Real America and then adjust their own attitudes to be like what what they think Real Americans’ attitudes are.

    I mean, there’s no way Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw really care about who wears socks and who doesn’t (is there?) but because they think Real Americans care about it, they care about it too. Russert thought Real Americans made up funny nicknames for their dads and made fun of them for trying order to Labat’s at Spago, so that’s what he did.

    There’s something stranger and more complicated going on than meets the eye.

  46. 46
    TheAssInTheHatOnMyCat(Formerly Comrade Tax Analyst) says:

    Please throw Cokie Roberts in as well. She really deserves it, especially after her snide little Myrtle Beach crack about Obama’s Hawaii trip.

    Maybe Cokie was manifesting some deep inner resentment spurred by the untimely disappearance of her father (Hale Boggs) that happened in a remote area of Alaska in 1972. It has been presumed lo these many years that he died in a plane crash, but neither the body nor the wreckage has ever been found.

    Hmmm…Just how old IS Sarah Palin?

    BTW – also lost and presumed dead in the presumed Alaskan plane crash was Congressman Nick Begich, who still won re-election November, 1972. Begich was subsequently declared dead in December, 1972…The Republican who he defeated in November eventually won the seat in a Special Election in March, 1973. Guess who it was? Yup, none other than the perpetually ethically-challenged Don Young.

    It’s almost enough to make one get out the tin-foil hat and start searching the sky for black helicopters.

  47. 47
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @DougJ:

    I think there’s some part of it where they take their own silly, condescending view of Real America and then adjust their own attitudes to be like what what they think Real Americans’ attitudes are

    No doubt, and some of us decide others aren’t like Real Americans and attribute scary motives to them.

    Russert thought Real Americans made up funny nicknames for their dads and made fun of them for trying order to Labat’s at Spago, so that’s what he did.

    I know people who have funny nicknames for their dads. And one time I had a buddy grab his dad who was bent over taking a pool shot and start dry humping him jackrabbit fast. That ended as well as you might imagine.

    There’s something stranger and more complicated going on than meets the eye.

    This is exactly how one tribe ends up attacking another tribe.

    Ya know, for me – not a Clinton fan at the time and no fan of Republicans, the Lewinsky thing came down to what do you do when a cat (Republicans) drags a mangled mouse into the house (the Lewinsky affair). If you stand there blaming the mouse, yer prolly a Republican or a dumbass or Joe Lieberman. If you seek to figure the best way to clean up the situation and move on, you’ve probably cleaned up after a cat plenty times before. So if The Villagers have a fault, perhaps it’s that they’ve never cleaned up after a cat before, or they have others who do that sort of stuff for them.

  48. 48
    TheAssInTheHatOnMyCat(Formerly Comrade Tax Analyst) says:

    So if The Villagers have a fault, perhaps it’s that they’ve never cleaned up after a cat before, or they have others who do that sort of stuff for them

    Well, that sure rings true. Hard to picture any of that Washington overclass cleaning up after the cat. Heck, if the maid ain’t around to do it you might just have to have the thing euthanized and then just have all new carpets installed on Monday.

    Cats (and to a large extent Bill Clinton) are just so irresponsible.

  49. 49
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Thomas Jefferson slept with his slave. Isn’t that worse?

    DougJ, can we really know this without fucking both of them?

  50. 50
    Andrew says:

    I’ve always suspected George Will and David Brooks might enjoy that.

    Oh great, and then we’ll get a column on how squealing like a pig made Brooks feel like a red blooded American and another column on the time Will heard dueling banjos in the 3rd innning of a Red Sox game.

  51. 51
    TheAssInTheHatOnMyCat(Formerly Comrade Tax Analyst) says:

    …and another column on the time Will heard dueling banjos in the 3rd innning of a CUBS game.

    Hmmm…I tried to do a "strikethrough" of Red Sox, but it didn’t show up when I posted it. But Will’s baseball fetish runs straight thru the Cubs & Wrigley Field.

  52. 52
    TheAssInTheHatOnMyCat(Formerly Comrade Tax Analyst) says:

    DougJ, can we really know this without fucking both of them?

    Jefferson and his slave or Lewinsky and Jefferson’s slave?…or maybe a threesome?

    Hell, call Bill and see if he can come over.

  53. 53
    TenguPhule says:

    . But I still don’t think the horror of this piece has really sunk in with many people yet, even eight years after it was written.

    The only solution is to clean DC with fire.

    Then nuke it just to be sure.

  54. 54
    Garrigus Carraig says:

    So Nick Begich was new senator Mark Begich’s father.

    Wow.

  55. 55
    [delurk]...[/delurk] says:

    As a non Washington insider, there was one thing I wanted to hear from Bill Clinton, and was desperately disappointed not to hear.

    Your stewardship of an office is under investigation, and they start asking you questions about your sex life?

    All I wanted to hear was some variation on the phrase: "NONE OF YOUR GODDAMN BUSINESS!"

  56. 56
    cjenk says:

    Washington Insiders project their own stupidity onto the American public.

    It’s not stupidity, they are lying. This is how the politics of personal destruction works. Someone tries to destroy someone else by attacking them personally and everyone in town plays along. All their reasons for why they were so offended and outraged were nothing but a pack of lies. This part:

    Muffie Cabot, who as Muffie Brandon served as social secretary to President and Nancy Reagan, regards the scene with despair. "This is a demoralized little village," she says. "People have come from all over the country to serve a higher calling and look what happened. They’re so disillusioned. The emperor has no clothes.
    Watergate was pretty scary, but it wasn’t quite as sordid as this.

    made me want to throw up.

  57. 57
    TheAssInTheHatOnMyCat(Formerly Comrade Tax Analyst) says:

    Garrigus Carraig
    So Nick Begich was new senator Mark Begich’s father.
    Wow.

    "Wow", indeed. I missed that particular familial connection to this saga.

    This is almost turning out like one of those "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" thing.

    Thanks!

  58. 58
    TheAssInTheHatOnMyCat(Formerly Comrade Tax Analyst) says:

    Further Alaskan election trivia – Nick Begich first won the Alaskan at-large Congressional seat in 1970, defeating Republican Frank Murkowski, who of course later became a Senator and eventually Governor of Alaska. Upon winning the Governorship he vacated his Senate seat and appointed…drum roll here, please…his daughter, Lisa Murkowski to complete his unexpired term.

    I don’t know if anyone else is interested, but I’m finding all this crap quite fascinating.

  59. 59

    I tried to read Quinn’s piece, but I couldn’t get through it. I gave up when I got to the quote from Andrea Mitchell. Quinn said she was married to Alan Greenspan, which we all know, and knew then. But the offhandedness of it just disgusted me. It still disgusts me. One of the more influential "reporters" in the country has been married to the head of the Federal Reserve for, what, 15 years or something? And as far as I know, nobody ever thought there was anything wrong with that.
    Nobody who’s married to a high government official, or who is the son or daughter or bother or sister… You round out the list. Anyway, these people should not be "reporting" on the news in this country. To me at least, anything they write or say is suspect. How can I believe anything Andrea Mitchell said about the economy for the ten years or whatever it was that her marriage to Greenspan overlapped his time as the head of the Federal Reserve? I can’t.
    That, to me, should have been the big story. That a little tidbit like that could be so casually dropped into a story without anybody raising an eyebrow should also have been big news.
    I can’t believe that, as some jerkoff in the piece said, there was never any sex scandal with a president when he was in the presidency before that one. Well, maybe it’s true that there was never any sex scandal while a president was serving, but there sure were lots of affairs. The difference is that 40 years ago, the reporters weren’t all friends with the people they were trying to report on. Seriously, how can we expect these assholes to do their job, which is to keep an eye on the people running this country, when they’re all such good buddies? Remember when Russert testified that any time he talked to somebody in the government, as far as he was concerned the little chat was "presumptively off the record"? How was that not a scandal?
    No wonder these assholes never bothered to look into what Bush was doing these last 8 years until he was so loathed around the country that they couldn’t find any excuse not to any longer: they were all such good buddies; they liked Bush; he was such a funny guy, right? They didn’t want to hurt him. They never liked Clinton, so they didn’t mind trashing him.
    We need a real press, the kind of cynical dickheads who drink too much and swear a lot and can’t stand the politicians, but know enough to know that a politician lying about his sex life is no story, but one lying about policy is. Thankfully, with the rise of blogging, we’re getting some of that at last.

  60. 60
    AnotherBruce says:

    There’s something stranger and more complicated going on than meets the eye.

    Well, I’m going to get all Jungian here, I think that these people really believe that they are the archetypical Americans. They are the keeper of the flame of true American culture, and if they let that flame go out, then America disappears. It’s an American culture defined and maintained by the Elite (Villagers). One of the role of the Villagers is to protect the image of the all-american average joe. That’s why they’re constantly trying to tell us average joe or jane really wants and thinks and feels. (Whether he or she knows it or not.) They don’t need evidence for this, because self- evidence defines who they are, in their own minds they define what the culture is, and everybody who disagrees with their image of what is and is not acceptable is either crude or un-american.

  61. 61
    AnneLaurie says:

    Monica Lewinsky wasn’t a white trash bimbo. Her dad was a doctor and her mom was an author. She grew up in Beverly Hills. To the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, white trash bimbos can’t obtain intern jobs in the white house.

    Among the Media Village Idiots, "white trash" is an all-purpose slur, now that the n-word and even the J-word have become radioactive. (Yes, the fringie fReichtards kept busy mumbling about Lewinsky’s ethnic background, but never Sally Quinn’s People.) Classism is the ‘new’ racism, and that’s why all the MVIs kept calling Monica a gross fat obese porker, because FAT is the code word for trailer-park serfs who can’t control their animal urges, stay on the high-dollar low-carb diets, and pay for the gym memberships, exercise equipment, spa visits & medical ‘assistance’ to stay svelte & edgy. Ms. Lewinsky may have grown up privileged, but part of her attraction to (and for) President Bubba was that Sally Quinn would *never* have permitted Lewinsky in her sorority, or her country club.

    (Seriously, calorie envy is the upper-class white women’s version of the closeted Republican men’s gay-bashing. If Sally Quinn, Maureen Dowd, or Ann Coulter could grant themselves the occasional cheeseburger or chocolate binge, there would be a lot less anti-progressive sexism among the female Media Village Idiots.)

  62. 62

    Yep, it’s the "Village" column:

    "We have our own set of village rules," says David Gergen, editor at large at U.S. News & World Report, who worked for both the Reagan and Clinton White House. "Sex did not violate those rules. The deep and searing violation took place when he not only lied to the country, but co-opted his friends and lied to them. That is one on which people choke.

    "We all live together, we have a sense of community, there’s a small-town quality here. We all understand we do certain things, we make certain compromises. But when you have gone over the line, you won’t bring others into it. That is a cardinal rule of the village. You don’t foul the nest."

    Sex did not violate those rules. Right, David. It was the lying that upset you guys. Right again.

    Funny how the lies of Reagan and Bush Sr. about selling arms to Iran never bothered you guys that much. Funny how the objections of the Dirty F’ing Hippies bothered you far more than the truckloads of lies of Bush the Shrub. Nor did the human cost of our not-so-excellent Iraq adventure bother you in the least.

    The Village is corrupt to the core. Maybe Gitmo should be preserved, once it’s emptied of GWoT prisoners, so that when the revolution comes, we’ll have a place to ship all the permanent Washington insiders.

  63. 63
    Thoughtcrime says:

    Here’s where the Beltway pundits come from:

    http://failblog.org/2008/12/23.....lide-fail/

  64. 64

    The average age of Elk’s Lodge members is well north of 65 so I imagine it would be a badge of honor to be having an extramarital affair. It might also be the case that the spouses of said individuals would probably be quite pleased that this 2 minute chore is now being handled by someone else. So, I guess you are correct. Most of us don’t care about that sort of thing in our political leaders.

    And as far as lying about the affair: aren’t you supposed to lie about these things? That would be the gentlemanly thing to do, no?

  65. 65
    Wick says:

    For another great take on the disconnect between Washington’s reaction to Clinton and the rest of America’s reaction to Clinton, read Joan Didion’s essay Clinton Agonistes, available in her book Political Fictions. It makes the point that we elected Clinton knowing that he was a womanizer, so no one outside of Washington was surprised when he continued to womanize. The essay begins:

    No one who ever passed through an American public high school could have watched the current president of the United States running for office in 1992 and failed to recognize the familiar predatory sexuality of the provincial adolescent. The man was, Jesse Jackson said that year to another point, ‘nothing but an appetite.

    Her essay savaging Bob Woodward is also a must read. His books

    "are books in which measurable cerebral activity is virtually absent."

  66. 66
    JR says:

    Oh, come ON people. Maybe it is true that American hubris has truly doomed us. According to the ancient Greeks: "who the gods will destroy they first make blind."

    And this is SOME blindness. What is going on, what has been going on since the beginning of civilization, is that one group of people become your "leaders" en route to becoming your "rulers."

    Reagan invigorated the Rightwing, which stands for the ancient regime, hierarchical aristocracy. Clinton came in, and our new American aristocracy saw a communal vision of destroying the silly liberal usurpers by destroying a symbol of their representation.

    It’s the Village Vogue: Strike a pose and let’s get to it … lies … pundits … spin …

    Teh Village crooks a finger, and America accepts being divided into Red and Blue, accepts the crushing of dissent (ala Nader), accepts the demonization of liberalism (daily drive-time propaganda), accepts being called "the Left" (ala Communism).

    Today on Dkos their "Daily Pundit Roundup" features deep rightwing operatives Richard Viguerie, Karl Rove, David Limbaugh and David Broder. Every morning that site works to bring traffic and attention to the Right wing, ensuring the enthronement of those IMPORTANT PEOPLE. This is because Dkos made the mistake of casting itself as an opponent of the freeper Right, instead of standing up for progressive principles. Because, let’s face it, after you have scapegoated Nader, the man who put seatbelts in cars, what principles can you possibly fight for? "Be against the wingers," that’s all, so said enemies must be preserved so that Dkos and such can survive.

    We are in a trap of our own consent. It requires liberal principles to escape it (ie, minority rights) that were trampled in the rush to smear Nader. It’s odd to watch the dynamic, and by odd I mean extremely depressing.

  67. 67
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    Bubba failed the blue blood purity test. The correct move would have been to get a blow job from an illegal immigrant worker, preferably of the same sex.

  68. 68
    kay says:

    Clinton wouldn’t belong to the Elks in a small town, he’d belong to Rotary. College degree. He’d definitely be a Rotarian.

    The affair-lying would cause some social stigma, in and around Rotary, for a time. He could MARRY Lewinsky, and she’d eventually be allowed "in", as long as he left Hillary in good shape financially, and accepted a voluntary 6 month banishment from the social ranks of the upstanding.

    It wouldn’t have any effect on his professional standing, though. None. Stealing would have an effect on his professional standing, but not an affair.

    We would separate the personal from the professional, here.

  69. 69
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    JR,

    Was it really a mistake for Markos to cast his site " as an opponent of the freeper Right, instead of standing up for progressive principles?" He strikes me as a pretty savvy businessman first and foremost and his WWE style approach to politics brings the people in droves by catering to the lowest common denominator.

    Progressivism is like natural bodybuilding — lots of people who praise it but won’t practice it ’cause it’s too hard.

  70. 70
    Napoleon says:

    I have been convinced for years that the Washington chattering class/Villagers are completely toxic and a major part of the complete failure of the USA’s ruling classes. I actually think that one of the best things Obama has going for him is that he clearly is very willing to ignore what comes out of the Villagers (as well as his closest advisors from Chicago).

  71. 71
    Woodrowfan says:

    According to a buddy who is (retired) State Dept, Bush I not only had a mistress, he took her along on official state trips (sometimes with Babs also along for the ride!) The "Village" never objected or clutched their pearls over that.

  72. 72
    Napoleon says:

    PS, I have always thought that Gore ran a far worse campaign then Kerry did and a major reason was that he clearly ran his campaign to impress the Villagers instead of to win. If he had ignored them and their Clinton fetish and embrassed Clinton (and not picked Lieberman) I am convinced he would be ending his second term in 12 days. The American people are smart enough to know that Clinton’s personal failings in no way reflected badly on Gore, while he could plausably take partial credit for the good things that came out of the Clinton years, but Gore was not smart enough to see that and instead did the thing the Villagers wanted and distanced himself from Clinton.

  73. 73
    Laura W says:

    @AnneLaurie:

    Seriously, calorie envy is the upper-class white women’s version of the closeted Republican men’s gay-bashing.

    That is one gorgeous sentence.

  74. 74
    jibeaux says:

    Thomas Jefferson slept with his slave. Isn’t that worse?

    If I recall correctly off the top of my butt this morning, historians frequently thought, pre-DNA-testing, that there couldn’t be much credibility to the Sally Hemmings rumors because they didn’t think Thomas Jefferson would be morally capable of abusing his more powerful status that way.

    This always struck me as profoundly odd, I have to say — although I have a high opinion of Jefferson and do realize he was aware of the evils of slavery and was ahead of his time intellectually and maybe he even struggled with the moral quandary of a sexual relationship and all, but he KEPT SLAVES. Saying he couldn’t possibly have had an unequal sexual relationship with them would, I dunno, is sort of like saying, "Sure, he beats his wife, but I just can’t believe he wouldn’t give her enough money for the groceries. That would just be mean."

  75. 75
    Napoleon says:

    If I recall correctly off the top of my butt this morning, historians frequently thought, pre-DNA-testing, that there couldn’t be much credibility to the Sally Hemmings rumors because they didn’t think Thomas Jefferson would be morally capable of abusing his more powerful status that way.

    I don’t think that is quite true, opinions were split. Hemmings was Jefferson’s deceased wifes half sister (she was either 1/2 or 3/4 white), had a son that was the splitting image of Jefferson, all of her pregnencies occured during the windows when Jefferson was in town, etc., etc. There was always plenty of reason to suspect that it was true.

  76. 76
    Jennifer says:

    You missed the money graf from the whole piece, one that has stuck with me to the extent that I can recite it by heart:

    "He came in here and he trashed the place," says Washington Post columnist David Broder, "and it’s not his place."

    There you have the Village mentality in a nutshell – the guy who was elected by a majority of Americans is the interloper in "their" town.

  77. 77
    Napoleon says:

    @Jennifer:

    the guy who was elected by a majority of Americans is the interloper in "their" town.

    Not to get all technical on you, but a majority never voted for him (not that that hurt Bush with the Villagers). I think that fact really hurt him.

  78. 78
    Morfydd says:

    @TheAssInTheHatOnMyCat(Formerly Comrade Tax Analyst):

    You want black helicopters? "Some of the other interesting points surrounding the disappearance include; Boggs was taken to the airport for the first leg of the trip by a young democrat named Bill Clinton who later, as President, appointed Congressman Boggs’ wife, Lindy, to the position of US Ambassador to the Vatican after she served eighteen years in the Congress after her husband’s disappearance." (From http://www.check-six.com/lib/F...../Boggs.htm)

    Six degrees indeed – Russ Brown’s daughter (an infant at the time of the disappearance) was my best friend in high school. Wacky.

  79. 79
    ksmiami says:

    We need a real press, the kind of cynical dickheads who drink too much and swear a lot and can’t stand the politicians, but know enough to know that a politician lying about his sex life is no story, but one lying about policy is. Thankfully, with the rise of blogging, we’re getting some of that at last.

    See Rolling Stone and Matt Taibbi, plus some of Rude Pundit’s course but accurate descriptions are great and of course Hilzoy and Calculated Risk… I mean the modern corporate media has been dead to me for like ever… They are just whores

  80. 80
    jibeaux says:

    I don’t think that is quite true, opinions were split.

    Oh sure, I wasn’t trying to imply it was a majority opinion or anything…just something I heard more than once back in the day from a skeptical historian. I think I saw a couple of documentaries on the subject before the testing was ever done, I’m no kind of Jefferson scholar or anything and for all I know it was a very minority opinion. Just thought it was an odd argument, even granting that Jefferson was an extremely thoughtful (in the sense of thinking a lot) dude.

    One of these days I’m going to read that Hemmingses of Monticello book. Looks interesting.

  81. 81
    Napoleon says:

    One of these days I’m going to read that Hemmingses of Monticello book. Looks interesting

    I have heard several interviews with the author and it does sound like an interesting book.

    (PS, can you tell my undergrad major was history?)

  82. 82
    The Moar You Know says:

    @JR: When Ralph Nader stops running against the left and starts running against the right, give me a call and I’ll be willing to listen to what he has to say. As things stand right now, he is nothing more than an agent of the GOP, happily taking their money and doing their work. And I’ve got no use for somebody who does that.

  83. 83
    Delia says:

    I’d like to recall three moments in Village time, as preserved by the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. They sort of say it all.

    1. Dubya brings down the house with his uproarious tape of himself searching the White House for the missing Iraq WMDs. They all think this is the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. Only one or two correspondents sitting in the back think that, considering the deaths and destruction, this bit is really tacky and in terrible taste, and, in fact, not funny at all.

    2. Stephen Colbert, as the featured comedy talent, skewers Bush, who’s sitting right beside him, other politicians, and the press corps, for their stupidity, vainglory, cowardice, and everything else they’ve done wrong. The Village all agrees it’s the most unfunny act they’ve ever seen. The rest of the nation thinks it’s the most hilarious bit of political theater ever.

    3. Karl Rove and David Gregory do some stupid dance together that’s caught on tape. Later, Karl starts passing himself off as a pundit at Newsweak and FauxNews, while David takes St. Tim’s place on MTP.

    Now, since it’s still early on the Left Coast, I must be off to have my coffee and breakfast.

  84. 84
    Jamey says:

    Thomas Jefferson slept with his slave. Isn’t that worse?

    He didn’t do it in the White House. And as anyone who’s heard the villagers speak, the President’s Mansion is a high sanctuary, where no chief executive would dare to, say, unlawfully record conversations with others, or (again) sign orders calling for the extra-legal torture of prisoners of war.

    To the Beltway ruling punditry class, defiling the White House with sordid personal deeds is high treason, and unforgivable in any way, unless they get to decide how big a sword the transgressor has to fall on. Signing executive orders in the West Wing that cause pain and death for countless innocents? Well, that’s the heavy burden a Chief Executive bears…

  85. 85

    Washington Insiders project their own stupidity onto the American public.

    A friend of mine worked briefly as a correspondent for Reader’s Digest, writing science and technology articles. (I may be fudging the details, as it was some time ago.) Despite high-minded statements from his bosses about the impermeable wall between the business and editorial departments, he nonetheless ended up writing glorified press releases for various new products. What he wrote was then stripped down until it contained nothing the least bit thought-provoking, interesting or challenging.

    He told me that the root cause of the stupidity was that his bosses were, themselves, not terribly bright, but still assumed that they were geniuses. The result was that they considered the intelligence of the citizenry to be that of the proverbial pack of drunken lemurs… and the magazine reflected that.

    Blinding stupidity combined with a massive self-righteous superiority complex seems like a good recipe for what we’ve been getting from our Villagers of late.

  86. 86
    binzinerator says:

    @Delia:

    1. Dubya brings down the house with his uproarious tape of himself searching the White House for the missing Iraq WMDs.

    This was the ‘let them eat cake’ moment of our leader and his sycophants. Like Antoinette’s comment, it indicted the entire political establishment and revealed the callousness, cluelessness and worthlessness of that system’s elite. Too bad there will be no guillotine in their future.

  87. 87

    @binzinerator: Please speak directly into the flowerpot, sir.

  88. 88
    DougtotheJizzay says:

    We are all Doug Js now.

  89. 89
    Aredubya says:

    I came in here late seeking an ATKM thread, and find Clinton and Village bashing. Interesting :)

    ATKM is probably my favorite novel of all time. A key quote from it may enlighten the Clinton/Village discussion, and why slime politics works. When Jack protests his boss’s directive to dig dirt on a political opponent who Jack believes is surely clean, Willie responds:

    "Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption. He passeth from the stink of the didey to the stench of the shroud. There is always something."

    The Village thinks that people care about scandal, and sometimes they do. Sometimes it’s just ginned up to cover their own biases though, as the Lewinsky scandal surely was. Bill Clinton did a stupid thing personally and politically, and eventually it impacted him professionally, as tried to tack right to curry favor with his eventual impeachers. Unfortunately, he proved that doesn’t work. I hope Obama learns that lesson quickly.

  90. 90
    bago says:

    They are no longer "Black Helicopters". They are "Son of a Luo Tribesman Helicopters".

  91. 91
    Clutch414 says:

    Kinda OT…

    Wow! Robert Penn Warren has one impressive moustache. I wonder how many hours he spends grooming that Lip Stallion.

    Never read ATKM, but I will add it to my must-read list.

  92. 92
    ricky says:

    John, the Washington Establishment was not offended by being lied to about Iraq, or torture, or Scooter Libby or anything else because they were not lied to about any of those things.

    Remember the Downing Street Memo. Remember how all of Washington yawned and said it was old news. Remember that some people in the Washington Establishment went so far as to say, "Oh, please, everyone knew the Bush administration was going to war…"

    Because everyone in Washington did know. And everyone in Washington knew about Scooter Libby. And they knew everything else.

    They were told the truth about those things. They lied to us about what they knew.

  93. 93
    ricky says:

    Sorry, that should say, "DougJ", not "John".

  94. 94

    […] 9, 2009 by JH Via the invariably entertaining blog Balloon Juice, there’s a nice little post about an absolutely horrendous Washington Post article from the Clinton impeachment era. Most of my […]

  95. 95
    DougJ says:

    @DougtotheJizzay

    I like your handle.

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