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Member since: Sun Aug 17, 2003, 11:39 PM
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Whitewater was shamelessly leveraged off of a good man's suicide

LIKE the majority of the WH scandals republicans like to fabricate, it had nothing at all to do with the subject. Whitewater was supposed to be about a failed land deal in Arkansas, and the congressional hearings and 'special prosecutor were initiated because of papers removed from Vince Foster's office after the poor man committed suicide. The papers were ultimately found and turned over, and we didn't hear a peep about any scandal from their contents.

The entire case that emerged reads like some fundamentalist screed about infidelity. Republicans only cared about Clinton's lie about Lewinsky to highlight what they thought would be the death of Clinton's presidency; a public shaming because of the sexual details they revealed.

Turns out, the entire episode not only ended in the congressional and public rejection of anything resembling the stoning of the president that most republicans wanted. His polls went through the roof at the time and Bill Clinton remains one of the most popular political figures today.

The notion that republicans have that Hillary can be damaged in some way by dragging all of this through the press again is the same flawed reasoning that led to the hypocrisy from them in the past. In the wake of Whitewater, there have been countless sexual scandals which have sunk numerous republicans' political futures, because of their party's hypocrisy, if for nothing else.

What most Americans hear when these tawdry details of Bill Clinton's affair are dragged back into the public discourse is a chaste and bitter complaint from folks who no one assumes are beyond similar reproach in some aspect of their own lives. Most of us have sex, and many of us (not me) have affairs outside of marriage or partnership.

Yes, we certainly obsess on the lies told to cover up the nonsense, and the consequences of those lies can be politically devastating, but it's not the prevarication that republicans are banking on. It's the titillating details which their own hypocritical community still believe will damn their sorry subjects to hell; and shame them out of politics.

The resurrection of Lewinsky this week is revealing in the way it also resurrects the innuendo that propelled almost all of the manufactured scandal to the front pages and created a modern cottage industry of conspiracy theories and hatred directed at the Clinton family.

That's how republicans use these contrived scandals; they rely on the titillation to keep the story in the news while they muckrake around for some other damaging notion related to it all that they can cement in the public mind. There is no there, there. All is sophistry and hypocrisy, and I believe that most folks understand this like shorthand when these scandals arise.

In fact, what most people see and hear when these issues are opportunistically resurrected is the meanness and rudeness that the majority of Americans rejected from the time republicans tried to convince us that Bill and Hillary were Satan incarnate. Even their daughter, Chelsea, is used as a foil for their disgusting patter and trash talk.

The effect is twofold. First comes public disbelief that anyone could be shocked by tawdry details of extramarital affairs these days. Second, everyone recognizes the political cravenness in expecting there to be some mass outrage toward two seniors over a decades-old sex scandal. It's all as boring as it is lurid.

To her credit, Monica Lewinsky says she's motivated to speak out (again) about the affair out of concern over 'cyberbullying'. She apparently cites the tabloid treatment that she received at the time from all sides; mindless, apparently, of the tabloid effect of her raising this issue in an election season in which Hillary Clinton is expected to feature prominently.

Is she a stalking horse for the new republican campaign against the Clintons? Or, is she just a woman seeking to distinguish herself from the scandal and set the record straight? We may never know. Already, the political forces are patterning out their responses; calculating their political advantage; and crafting their campaigns to accommodate or exploit any renewed interest in the public shaming that characterizes republican (and media) hypocrisy over sex.

In an excerpt from the Vanity Fair article out Thursday, Lewinsky cast a wide net of blame:

"Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. . . . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me." she says.

That 'branding' is not going to stop with yet another round of reminiscences from the republicans' (unwitting?) remaining icon of their phony outrage over Bill Clinton's sexual history. The entire subject is nothing more, nothing less, than a cynical cudgel with which to beat into the public's mind the notion that the Clinton's are, somehow, far outside of their own sphere of acceptability.

In their narrative, Lewinsky will remain a tawdry figure; a superficial representation of the shame and humiliation they expect the Clintons to suffer in any campaign they might wage against them. Once again, Monica Lewinsky has, wittingly or not, placed herself in the role of facilitator in the revival of the cottage industry of scandal and innuendo which began with an affair in Arkansas, and was propelled into the public discourse by a failed and discredited investigation surrounding the sad and tragic suicide of a good man and a Clinton land deal in which he lost money.

I wonder just how many folks will remember all of that.

Guardian Whiteboard ‏@gdnwhiteboard 1h
Welcome back, Monica. It's been too long pic.twitter.com/SiEaLa8p76
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