Part 3—These old story-lines never end: With fans like the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus, who needs an enemies list?
In her column this Sunday, Marcus identified herself as “a fan of Hillary Clinton.” Within the upper-end insider press corps, this is the way such people have reasoned all through the Clinton/Gore years:
MARCUS (5/24/15): Hillary Clinton’s unseemly speechifyingAgain with the speeches? The gross excessiveness of it all?
Again with the speeches. The gross excessiveness of it all, vacuuming up six-figure checks well past the point of rational need or political seemliness. The ceaseless drip of information that ought to have already been released, now being presented with a self-serving back pat over transparency.
I wasn’t planning to write, again, about Hillary Clinton’s compulsive speechifying. I already weighed in nearly a year ago urging her to stop talking. For money, that is.
That unheeded advice came, by my accounting, some $6 million ago. Not including Bill Clinton’s speeches. Not including any speeches that Hillary Clinton made on behalf of the family foundation, which just disclosed that, um, it neglected to disclose somewhere between $12 million and $26 million of money it made by booking the Clintons.
In fairness, we had the exact same set of reactions! But we were reacting to Marcus’ “compulsive columnizing” about this same old subject, which also drove the way her gang wrote about Candidate Gore.
We’ve read these same old stories before, with the same old points of view and the same old double standards. Frank Bruni, who isn’t a fan of Clinton, was trundling down this same old road in his own column this Sunday.
Within the realm of Bruni and Marcus, this is the way you approach the world, whether you’re a fan of Clinton or a borderline hater. Unless you don’t care who reaches the White House after our current endless campaign, we think you should be concerned by the widespread déjà vu occasioned by these same old columns.
Almost anything can trigger these same old screeds, as Marcus proved in her piece. But before we examine the outrage which set Marcus off this time, let’s get clear on the depth of her concern.
In Sunday’s column, Marcus understated her track record in this area. By our count, this is at least the fifth column she has devoted, since last June, to Hillary Clinton’s “greed.”
It’s true! Last June, Marcus did “urge” Clinton to stop speaking for pay. More accurately, she issued a type of command:
MARCUS (6/29/14): Which gets me to the second set of issues: how you're continuing to vacuum up the money, and the aura of greediness it exudes. Madam Secretary, enough already. This behavior borders on compulsion, like refugees who once were starved and now hoard food. You're rich beyond your wildest imaginings! You don't need any more! Just. Stop. Speaking. For. Pay.We’re often struck by the sense of entitlement these masters of the world convey as they issue their directives to the mortals who cross their path.
At any rate, when Clinton didn’t Just. Stop. Speaking. For. Pay., it seemed to set Marcus off. Though still a fan, she wrote a column last month in which she turned to the Yiddish word for “pig” to describe the woman she so admires:
MARCUS (4/26/15): Which brings us to greed, and the Yiddish word chazer. It means “pig” but has a specific connotation of piggishness and gluttony. This is a chronic affliction of the Clintons, whether it comes to campaign fundraising (remember the Lincoln Bedroom?), compulsive speechifying (another six-figure check to speak at a public university?) or assiduous vacuuming-up of foundation donations from donors of questionable character or motives.Inside the Masonic lodge of the insider press, that’s the way a person writes about those of whom she’s “a fan.”
(Just for the record: We do remember the Lincoln Bedroom. We remember the way Marcus’ newspaper gimmicked the numbers during that heavily-flogged episode, adding Chelsea Clinton’s middle-school slumber party guests to the total number of people who slept in the sacred room—and yes, they actually did that!
(We also remember what happened when USA Today reviewed the tenure of President Bush; they found that a similar number of donors had slept in the White House while he was president. You’ve never heard about that from Marcus, or from pretty much anyone else, and the chances are good that you never will. We have no idea why that’s the case. Apparently, she only applies these same old standards to those of whom she’s a fan.)
Marcus is “a fan of Hillary Clinton” even though Clinton’s a gluttonous pig! Somehow, though, she can’t stop repeating the talking-points which have long been employed by those who have tried to destroy the Clintons and their vassal, Candidate Gore.
After last month’s “gluttonous pig” fan letter, Marcus found herself compulsively columnizing on this subject again. And sure enough! Another of those same old stories was banging around in her head:
MARCUS (5/6/15): Oh, Bill. There you go again. We knew you were going to pop off, but did it have to be so soon—and so tone-deaf?Live and direct from 1997, “no controlling legal authority” still haunts Marcus’ sleep!
"We have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy," Bill Clinton asserted. "Knowingly inappropriate"—the 2016 version of Al Gore's "no controlling legal authority.”
We won’t make you sit through a recitation of the inanity of that tired old tale, which turned on the issue of which room in the White House a person can sit in when making a fund-raising phone call. Suffice to say that stories like this never seem to leave the heads of those who are willing to tell their readers that they are Clinton’s “fans.”
Do you think it makes a difference who ends up in the White House? If you do, we advise you to be concerned about the re-emergence of the same old stories the guild has routinely told about the Clintons and Gore.
Double standards have always abounded in Clinton/Gore money stories:
In April 1999, Marcus’s own newspaper published an astounding magazine cover report about Candidate Gore’s deeply disturbing fund-raising goals. The paper already knew that Candidate Bush was planning to eschew “matching funds,” freeing him to raise much more than Candidate Gore. But so what? They ran the astounding cover report anyhoo, with its amazing cartoon visuals of the rapacious Gore.
We don’t recall the glorious Marcus raising her voice about that ridiculous scam. We get a whiff of that same old story when scribes like Marcus and Bruni complain about Clinton’s approach to fund-raising while rushing past the massive money being raised everywhere else.
Inanity has often been present in Clinton/Gore money stories:
Consider Bruni’s column last Sunday. Is Hillary Clinton a hypocrite because she plans to “round up donations” for a super PAC which “will be panhandling on her behalf...despite much high-minded talk previously about taming the influence of money in politics?”
Actually, no, she pretty much isn’t, as almost anyone should be able to discern. But this same “hypocrisy” club was endlessly used at the New York Times to beat Candidate Gore over the head, even in their “news reports,” even as he was being outraised by Candidate Bush.
(Warning to Democrats! In the Post and the Times of that ludicrous era, Gore’s fund-raising showed he was venal. Bush’s substantially larger fund-raising showed he was well-liked.)
These same old stories are floating around, pretty much as it’s ever been during the Clinton/Gore years. We liberals agreed long ago not to notice such problems, but they still exist.
Do you think it matters if Republicans take the White House? If so, we think you should be concerned by these emanations. Meanwhile, almost anything can trigger these same old stories, as Marcus proved in her latest fan letter.
What inspired Marcus to write her fifth column about the way Clinton’s a greedy pig? The fact that the Clinton Foundation just made a disclosure—a disclosure Marcus says they’re weren’t required to make!
Being a fan, she’s upset because this disclosure could have been made a few months earlier. And she is upset because Clinton scored $6 million in the past year, after the time when the Empress Marcus commanded her to stop.
Just for the record, that’s roughly the amount a mid-level infielder makes.
Money is a major problem in our American politics, as every sane person knows. But the heads of crazy people like Marcus still teem with riotous, tilted tales from the disgraceful journalistic era of the Clinton/Gore pseudo-scandals.
She still remembers the Lincoln Bedroom, but she remembers it only one way. Eighteen years later, she can quote what Gore said in the terrible scandal concerning which room you’re allowed to sit in while you make phone calls.
Would you be OK with a President Walker? If so, you shouldn’t worry about the same old stories which seem to be popping up.
If that prospect doesn’t seem OK, you might be concerned about the ease with which a fan like Marcus finds herself with her “hair on fire” about these troubling matters, which seem to grab such people in rather unbalanced ways.
In her latest column, Marcus said this: “I find myself, once again, with hair on fire” about these money matters.
No problem, one of the analysts cried. Because she’s living in Salem Village, a dunking pool must be nearby!
Tomorrow: “The lesser of two evils”