Part 2—Alter's vicious response: Just a guess:
With this morning's report about Charlie Rose, the revival meeting-inflected chase after Bill Clinton is probably mostly over.
The children may blow with the breeze. In this morning's New York Times, Michelle Goldberg has already flipped about the need for Al Franken to resign. We'll guess that these idiots' latest return to the 1990s has also come to an end.
It's hard to keep up with the raging stampedes of a group which is so unfocused. That said, we might gain some insights from the recent cries about Bill Clinton, including the recent cri de coeur from the hapless Goldberg herself.
Yesterday, when we left off, Ross Douthat had caught up with some old friends from the 1990s. Almost inevitably, the New York Times' "excitable boy" had mentioned Gennifer Flowers first.
If we want to understand the current journalistic era, Gennifer Flower isn't a bad place to start. Let's get clear about the defining values of the nation's peeping Toms as of January 1992, when Flowers injected herself into a White House race.
At that time, Bill Clinton had long been regarded as the nation's most talented upcoming Democrat. For that reason, the RNC had been conducting some rather unreliable "opposition research" about him dating all the way back to 1988.
These events are described in The Hunting of the President, the 2000 book by Conason and Lyons which Douthat forgot to "skim" or "leaf" in his pseudo-review last week of the era in question.
At any rate, Clinton's entry into the 1992 race resulted in instant attacks. One such "attack" came from Flowers, who was paid $100,000 by the National Enquirer to tell her exciting tale.
At this point, we start to see the values of the Toms as of 1992. Once again, let's get clear on what Flowers wasn't saying:
She wasn't accusing Governor Clinton of sexual assault. She wasn't accusing Governor Clinton of sexual harassment.
She wasn't saying that Governor Clinton had dated her when she was 19 and he was 32. Flowers was born in January 1950. Clinton was only three years older—not even three and a half!
In short, Flowers wasn't accusing Clinton of the types of conduct being discussed with respect to the ludicrous, possibly criminal alleged conduct of people like Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore and now Charlie Rose. In fact, it isn't clear that she was "accusing" Clinton of anything at all.
She was saying something different. She was saying that she and Governor Clinton had conducted a torrid, twelve-year love affair—a love affair between consenting adults of roughly the same age.
We'll guess her statement wasn't true. But given the values of the time, it did set the peeping Toms off.
From Douthat's column, it isn't clear that he fully understands the difference between Flowers' "accusation" and some other accusations that have been made against Bill Clinton. In all honesty, it isn't clear that the excitable child understands much of anything about his old friends at all.
Douthat was only 12 years old when Flowers arrived on the scene. It isn't clear that he knows much about the era is question. But as excitable figures like Douthat and Goldberg start setting the nation's mental agenda, it's worth getting clear on a basic point:
When Flowers began attempting to take Candidate Clinton down, she was alleging an (extramarital) love affair, full and complete freaking stop.
At that time, that was enough to trigger our barrel of Toms. In 1987, they had eliminated the previous Democratic front-runner by hiding in bushes outside his house and catching him in the act of spending the night with a conventionally attractive woman who wasn't his actual wife.
They then eliminated Candidate Biden over a college plagiarism incident. After that, they began trying to eliminate Candidate Gore with questions about whether he'd smoked marijuana when he was 19 years old.
There were the values of these idiots at that point in time. Even now, it's important to understand who and what we're dealing with when the Douthats and the Goldbergs, along with the Thrushes and the Roses, tell us what we should care about, along with what we should think.
The extremely well-paid Gennifer Flowers alleged a love affair. At this point, we reach an extremely dark part of the era in question.
Over at Newsweek, Jonathan Alter didn't seem to know that he must "believe the accusers." He didn't even seem to know that he must "believe the women."
We've chatted with Alter a time or two. Long ago and far away, we lunched with him on one occasion.
Alter seems like a perfectly decent person to us. Surely, though, he ought to step forward at this time to explain the misogyny he so viciously demonstrated in the following way:
When Flowers launched her accusation, Alter didn't necessarily seem to believe what she'd thoughtfully said! It almost seemed that he was suggesting that some accusations, in this world, are perhaps maybe possibly false!
We can't tell you where the fellow got a weird idea like that. But he quickly presented a report in Newsweek—and no, we really aren't making this up—which said that Flowers, the accuser, had credibility problems!
Horrific, isn't it? Alter sounds like the kind of guy who might have waited for all the evidence in the Duke lacrosse case, then later at UVa! People like this need reeducation. Here's part of what he wrote:
ALTER (2/3/92): Gennifer Flowers also has credibility problems. Among them:Mistakenly, Flowers claimed that she'd been Miss Teen Age America. She'd claimed that she met "her Bill" at a hotel that didn't yet exist.
* Flowers claims she met Clinton at the Excelsior Hotel in 1979 or 1980. The hotel didn't open until late 1982.
* Flowers claims to have been part of an opening act for Roy Clark's band and to have joined the band's U.S. and European tours. But her own booking agent says she exaggerated her role.
* Flowers claims to have taken 50 hours of classes at the University of Arkansas. There is no record of her having attended the school.
* Flowers claims to have been Miss Teen Age America, 1967. She wasn't—that year, or any other.
Anyone can make such minor understandable errors, but Alter was in need of reeducation. On the basis of these honest mistakes, he said that that Flowers had credibility problems—even seemed to suggest that she might be making false claims!
Last week, the excitable Douthat revisited a bunch of old friends, naming Flowers first. He forgot to mention what Alter wrote when Douthat had just turned 12. Because he apparently didn't skim, or even leaf, the Conason/Lyons book, he also didn't mention this gruesome excerpt:
CONASON/LYONS (page 25): Musicians and club owners who had worked with Flowers described her as manipulative and dishonest. Her resume falsely proclaimed her a graduate of a fashionable Dallas prep school she’d never attended. It also listed a University of Arkansas nursing degree she’d never earned and membership in a sorority that had never heard of her. Her agent told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that contrary to her claims, Flowers had never opened for comedian Rich Little. A brief gig on the Hee Haw television program had come to a bad end, the agent would later confirm, when Flowers simply vanished for a couple of weeks with a man she’d met in a Las Vegas casino—and then concocted a tale about having been kidnapped. She had never been Miss Teenage America. Even her “twin sister Genevieve” turned out to be purely a figment of Flowers’ imagination.Nor did Douthat mention what his old friend said in her own 1995 book, Passion and Betrayal, from which she scored more cash. Thoughtfully, Douthat's friend recalled the first time she set eyes on Hillary Clinton, then Arkansas' first lady:
FLOWERS (1995): I was shocked. She looked like a big fat frump with her hair hanging down kind of curly and wavy. She had big, thick glasses; an ugly dress; and a big, fat butt.Should any sane person rush to believe the statements made by such an "accuser?" Absent confirming evidence, we wouldn't suggest rushing in.
Douthat failed to mention any of this in Sunday's column—a column so clownish that, in a less ridiculous world, it would get a journalist fired, or at least shipped off to the countryside for years of reeducation. That said, you've never seen any of this in the pages of the New York Times, an enterprise which operates on the general level of the private Charlie Rose and his three million enablers, who stampede after Clinton/Gore/Clinton while kissing the ascots of people like Rose.
Did Bill Clinton, when he was governor, conduct extramarital relationships or affairs? We would assume he did. He seemed to say as much on 60 Minutes in January 1992, when he said he'd caused pain in his marriage, and that everyone knew what he was talking about.
("You know, I have acknowledged wrongdoing. I have acknowledged causing pain in my marriage...I think most Americans who are watching this tonight, they'll know what we're saying. They'll get it.")
Presumably, everyone did know what he and his wife were talking about. But just for the record, Gennifer Flowers wasn't accusing him of harassment or assault. She was accusing him, probably falsely, of a fully consensual love affair.
In those days, that was all the peeping Toms needed to stage their own crackpot affair.
In the face of all the excitement, Alter questioned Flowers' credibility! Why have you never seen any further reference to the points he mentioned about the remarkably coarse, error-riddled accuser who intruded on a White House election, attempting to take Clinton out?
Easy! As of 1992, your "press corps" was conducting its own love affair, a love affair with accusers! They blew right past the credibility problems of Flowers. They then blew past the credibility problems with Kathleen Willey, in remarkable ways we'll recall before the week is done.
Were other accusations against Bill Clinton true? It's very hard to know such things, especially when 1) the press is conducting a love affair and 2) the RNC is conducting a war.
Too funny, though! On Sunday, Douthat penned the dumbest statement in journalistic history:
"The story seems like it was probably mostly true."
That was his thrice-qualified assessment of "Troopergate." His next sentence may have been even dumber:
"I have less confidence about what was real in the miasma of Whitewater."
Whitewater was the murky assemblage of pseudo-scandals which gave its name to an era. Twenty-five years later, it remains a "miasma" to Douthat.
Just a guess! Because Whitewater didn't involve sex, it seems it may be largely probable that it didn't interest our young peeping Tom a whole lot. But go ahead! Enjoy a good laugh! He has less confidence about Whitewater than he does about Troopergate, concerning which he's so certain that he says it seems like it's probably mostly true!
It seems like it's probably mostly! This is the kind of brain disease which swirls through the conduct of Rose.
Tomorrow, we'll join Douthat as he revisits Monica Lewinsky. Friday, we'll look at Goldberg's work, in which she agrees that Clinton's a rapist, unless she has decided to change her mind by now.
They've jockeyed for spots on the Charlie Rose show. It's time for them all to go.
Tomorrow: The "predator" and the "willing intern"