Concerning Bill Clinton's alleged past conduct: We humans! By our nature, we aren't obsessively moral.
Despite our best efforts to sing the praises of our own species, this basic fact has tended to surface down through the years. Consider Tom Hollander's new book, Dynasty, a history of the first five Roman emperors.
Michiko Kakutani reviewed the book for the New York Times. In this passage, she cites a rather large number:
KAKUTANI (1/8/16): Mr. Holland...uses his knowledge of the period (which starts with the murder of Julius Caesar and concludes with Nero’s suicide in A.D. 68) to place early and sometimes disputed accounts in context, and to give the reader a startlingly visceral sense of the violence and brutality and wretched excess of ancient Rome."An estimated one million were killed" as Roman legions subdued Gaul? We're going to take a wild guess:
Not just the massacres carried out by the Roman legions in subduing Gaul, in which an estimated one million were killed, and a million more enslaved. Not just the horrors of gladiatorial combat, which slaves were subjected to as entertainment for the masses. But the murder, treachery and Machiavellian back-stabbing that almost routinely took place among the imperial family and elites in the pursuit of power—lurid wars for succession and influence so vicious as to make “Game of Thrones” or “The Hunger Games” seem almost polite.
Back in those days, it wasn't easy to find a million people, let alone to kill them. Then too, there were those "lurid wars for succession"—a type of war which still takes place in the modern day.
We didn't read Kakutani's review until this very morning. We'll acknowledge that it made us think of the current war for succession being waged inside the mainstream press corps, even at Kakutani's paper.
Candidate Trump has shown the press corps how to do it! On the same day that book review appeared, the New York Times editorial board was sounding off about a vast moral concern—a moral concern the press corps never thought to cite in 2007 and 2008, during Hillary Clinton's previous run for the White House.
The logic of the editorial was rather hard to make out. The editors aggressively scolded Candidate Trump for discussing Bill Clinton's sexual history, but seemed to say that Hillary Clinton's unspecified "attacks on her husband's accusers" actually should be fair game.
What did the editors say last week? Here are some high- or low-lights of the board's latest attempt to make a discernible point:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (1/8/16): Mr. Trump is way out of line bringing up Mr. Clinton’s philandering. That behavior, especially his White House affair with a 22-year-old intern, is a blot on his career. It is also a tired subject that few Americans want to hear more about. If Mr. Trump has not read enough, he can curl up with a copy of the Starr report.According to the Times, Candidate Trump "is way out of line" in discussing Bill Clinton's past conduct. On the other hand, the editors seem to say that Hillary Clinton should be critiqued "for her own public actions," by which the editors seem to mean her (unspecified) "attacks on her husband’s accusers."
That said, it is indisputable that the Clintons’ political lives have been linked for decades, that Mr. Clinton is now playing a visible role in his wife’s campaign and that Hillary Clinton is accountable for her own public actions.
For decades Mrs. Clinton has helped protect her husband’s political career, and hers, from the taint of his sexual misbehavior, as evidenced by the Clinton team’s attacks on the character of women linked to Mr. Clinton. When Mr. Clinton ran for president in 1992, Mrs. Clinton appeared on television beside him to assert that allegations involving Gennifer Flowers were false. In 1998, he admitted to that affair under oath. After the Monica Lewinsky affair emerged, some White House aides attempted to portray Ms. Lewinsky as the seducer.
Mr. Trump, of course, is not drawing distinctions between Bill Clinton’s behavior and Hillary Clinton’s attacks on her husband’s accusers. His aim is to dredge up an ancient scandal and tar Mrs. Clinton with it in a clearly sexist fashion. There should be no place for that kind of politics in this country.
What attacks do these idiots mean? You'd think in writing such an editorial, a group of editors would be careful to explain such a basic point.
In this case, the best the editors can do is this. We apologize for the repetition:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: For decades Mrs. Clinton has helped protect her husband’s political career, and hers, from the taint of his sexual misbehavior, as evidenced by the Clinton team’s attacks on the character of women linked to Mr. Clinton. When Mr. Clinton ran for president in 1992, Mrs. Clinton appeared on television beside him to assert that allegations involving Gennifer Flowers were false. In 1998, he admitted to that affair under oath. After the Monica Lewinsky affair emerged, some White House aides attempted to portray Ms. Lewinsky as the seducer.Did Hillary Clinton "attack the character" of Gennifer Flowers during that famous 1992 appearance on 60 Minutes?
Actually no, she didn't.
Six years later, did Bill Clinton "admit to an affair" with Flowers while "under oath?" That didn't happen either, as we'll explain again tomorrow, for the ten millionth time.
By the way, some basic logic: If Bill Clinton admits to X in 1998, does that mean that Hillary Clinton knew X in 1992? Obviously no, it doesn't. But this is the one example the editors give of Hillary Clinton allegedly attacking the character of one of her husband's accusers.
We'll admit it! When we read that book review, we thought of the Times editorial board. Given changing cultural norms, people of their type are no longer allowed to send armies out to kill a million people.
They do still engage in "lurid wars for succession," in which they may play fast and loose with vast arrays of facts.
The current war of succession has been underway since the 1990s. The liberal world has sat on its ascots, looking away, during that entire time.
In the modern world, journalistic careers run through the New York Times. For that reason, your loathsome liberal heroes almost never challenge its work. Rachel won't tattle and Hayes won't tell. Neither will E.J. Dionne or Jonathan Alter, who plays an intriguing role in this particular long-running tale.
Tomorrow, we'll start exploring some of the facts the Times keeps forgetting to mention when it restarts these discussions. Before the week is done, we'll also consider this plea by Michelle Goldberg, who is shocked, shocked all over again to think that such an editorial could have appeared in the Times.
(The last time we looked in on Goldberg, she was joining Hayes in vouching for the disgraceful cant which lay at the heart of the Times' ginormous report on the "scary uranium deal," one of the most appalling pieces of fake journalism of the entire past year.)
The current war for succession has been underway for a very long time. As of today, Gene Lyons and Joe Conason have written a pair of columns restating some of the basic facts the Times will constantly disappear when it pretends to discuss this matter.
To read the Lyons column, click here. For Conason's piece, click this.
We strongly recommend those columns, and there's much more information where they came from. Lyons and Conason literally wrote the book on this subject—The Hunting of the President. Their book is full of the information that will never appear in the Times.
Back in the day, it could actually happen! Hapless legacies like Andrew Rosenthal might end up ruling Rome! If so, they'd quickly send their armies off with orders to kill millions of people.
Today, Rosenthal types must stumble along, offending as best as the rules allow. That lurid, sub-honest editorial is a sub-honest case in point.