- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Where have all these wise guys been for these long, long eight years?

You couldn't blame a few of us a very, very few for saying we told you so. But of course, being well brought up, we would never do that.

But suddenly the wise (and sleepy) old guys of the mainstream media, as they regard themselves, have discovered what some of us have been saying forever, that Bill and Hillary Clinton were what landed at the nation's feet the day the body politic threw up.

The Washington Post, the New York Times, even Mary McGrory, have finally applied to join the vast right-wing media conspiracy. I offered to vouch for Miss Mary myself, being a longtime admirer of her gift for the language, but alas, as rich as they are they can't afford the back dues. Not so long ago no television screen was safe from the faces of James Carville, Lanny Davis, Paul Begala and George Stephanopoulos, elbowing each other out of the way to testify to Clinton political virtue and moral rectitude. But where are they now? Somebody said they saw James Carville hiding out under the Taft Bridge over Rock Creek, roasting a dead crow on a stick and eating cold beans out of the can.

The Post, always eager to apply the tarbrush to Christians, Republicans, straights and other poor, uneducated and easy-to-command conservatives while savoring the aroma of Democratic, feminist, gay and other liberal corruption, is particularly upset by the Clintons' theft of White House furniture and silverware (even though they only did it to have something suitable to entertain with on the nights Mrs. Graham goes to dinner on Whitehaven Street): "The list demonstrates again the Clintons' defining characteristic: They have no capacity for embarrassment. Words like shabby and tawdry come to mind. They don't begin to do it justice."

The overstuffed entities of the editorial page of the New York Times employed as usual an overstuffed paragraph to do the work of a simple sentence to harrumph: "We were particularly troubled by the numerous instances in which Mr. Clinton granted pardons or commutations without proper consultation with federal prosecutors, often to reward friends or political allies or gain future political advantage." What these entities really wanted to say, as it turned out in the final paragraph, was that George W., who has never been accused of selling pardons, should never do what it would never occur to him to do.

"I won't use the label superior Northerners pejoratively use to describe Southern crackers," writes Michael Kramer in the New York Daily News. "I won't call them 'white trash.' But if not that, then what?" Well, why not? Others already have, a long time ago, and without the delicate quotation marks. And the label did not originate with "superior Northerners," as Mr. Kramer supposes, but with plantation blacks outraged by the trashy behavior of inferior whites. Bill Clinton, however, is not white trash, but worse. He's Flem Snopes' grandson, the more dangerous redneck who stoops to white-trash guile and cunning to rise above himself only when he needs to. (A Southerner knows the difference on instinct.)

The irony here is that Bill Clinton's newly outraged one-time defenders are the same wonderful folks who overlooked Bonnie and Clod's bank-robbing days in Arkansas, Webb Hubbell's stealing from his friends, Travelgate, Filegate, Hillary's manipulation of the cattle-futures market (speaking of "mad cow" disease), the health-care task force disaster, the harassment of Paula Jones, the rape of Juanita Brodderick, the leasing of national-security secrets to the Chinese, the renting of Abe Lincoln's best satin sheets, and finally the lying to grand juries and federal courts. All that was winkable-at. Not until we got to the White House silverware there's something about somebody else's silver that makes Yankee eyes go goo-goo did mainstream media antennae begin to quake and quiver.

Just as these just deserts are served, Hillary, with the unerring timing for which has been famous since she arrived in Arkansas with her matched set of carpetbags, announces that she will vote against John Ashcroft because he does not meet her high standards of morality and ethics. She joins Teddy Kennedy, the Senate ethicist, and Chuck Schumer and Patrick Leahy, the Senate theologians, as the master trashers.

All this as George W. begins Week II, hardly able to believe his luck in enemies. His tormentors, who have been telling us how dumb and ineffective he would be, are now only trying to get out of the way of the wagon. He presented his faith-based initiative yesterday, continuing to do what he said he would. He had to hide a grin while pretending not to notice the fried crow on the menu in the press mess.

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