micro/macro [was Re: Hitchens explains]

Peter Kilander peterk at enteract.com
Tue Feb 9 01:21:31 PST 1999

Max, I'll see your Washington Post insider letter and raise you a Salon piece: http://www.salonmagazine.com/media/poni/1999/02/09poni.html

First of all, what's up with your sentences wrapping prematurely and not going all the way across the screen like the rest of ours?

>I come away sickened by Hitchens. E.M. Forster,
>a novelist I like, once said if it came down to a
>choice of betraying his country or betraying his
>friends, he hoped he would have the courage
>to do the former. Hitchens didn't have to commit
>treason; all he had to do was keep his mouth shut.

Growing up and living in Chicago, where Blumenthal is from incidently, I've become well aware of the power of loyalty and the honor code that accompanies it; often the strongest examples can be seen in the mafia or police deparment or Democratic politcal machine. Clinton's subordinates have been impressive in the hits they'll take for their undeserving boss. Blumenthal, via his lawyer and counting on the code of Washington Insiderdom, said that journalists were freed from their obligations to protect sources. That's tossing the gauntlet down. Why up the ante? It's all in defense of the Constitution [read Clinton]. Hitchens is a serious man, valued his friendship with Blumenthal, didn't blame him for orchestrating a smear campaign and has said Blumenthal probably believed Clinton's stalker talk at the time, exculpatory evidence. Blumenthal testified Clinton told him she was a stalker. Once the physical evidence appeared, you'll remember, the smearing stopped - it takes two to tango. Here's an excerpt from Hitchens's CNN interview:

WOODRUFF: Why did you decide to come forward now? HITCHENS: Well, I didn't decide to go forward. I was approached by the House Judiciary Committee. What I decided to do was to tell the truth, because I thought that they already knew the answers to the questions. I've told this story to many people. Many people have heard me tell it. Many have told it to me. The sources are usually much the same. I published the rest of the story in a paper in England, in London, "The Independent" of London in September when the truth wasn't apparently so toxic. So if I said, no, I've never done or heard this, it would have been pretty easy to make me look a fool and a liar.

>Hitchens says he would go to jail before testifying
>against Sid. But the Post says a sworn affadavit
>is equivalent to testimony for prosecutorial
>purposes, so Hitchens' stipulation is at least
>part bull-shit. If Hitchens actually does any time
>for refusing to testify, I'll issue a qualified
>self-criticism and send him a beef and kidney
>pie in jail.

See what Hitchens says above. He won't be made a fool and a liar in defense of Clinton, but he will not pull any other journalists into it; I think others would have to come forward for Blumenthal to be in trouble. If Blumenthal incurs any more legal bills, however unlikely, Clinton should pay them, not Hitchens. McMuffin said Monica was stalking him while he was fooling around with her. Hitchens has said he doubts this Justice Department will look into it. If Starr or whoever wants to go on a fishing expedition, they'll likely call up Hitchens - and his wife - who has testified he knows others in the journalistic community heard what he heard. As I said, I don't think he's a frivolous man and I believe him when he says he would not tesitify or name other names, even if it would bring down Clinton. Here's some more from the CNN interview: (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SIDNEY BLUMENTHAL, WHITE HOUSE AIDE: I never told any of my colleagues about what the president told me. REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), IMPEACHMENT TRIAL MANAGER: And this is after the president recants his story -- recounts his story to you where he's visibly upset, feels like he's a victim, that he associates himself with a character who's being lied about, and you at no time suggested to your colleagues that there's something going on here with the president and Ms. Lewinsky you need to know about. Is that your testimony? BLUMENTHAL: I never mentioned my conversation. I regarded that conversation as a private conversation, in confidence. And I didn't mention it to my colleagues. I didn't mention it to my friends. I didn't mention it to my family besides my wife. GRAHAM: Did you mention it to any White House lawyers? BLUMENTHAL: I mentioned it many months later to Lanny Breuer in preparation for one of my grand jury appearances when I knew I would be questioned about did. And I certainly never mentioned it to any reporter. (END VIDEO CLIP) SHAW: And I certainly never mentioned it to any reporter. And you claim he said what? HITCHENS: Well, I claim that he said what he says he didn't say to any reporter. I've noticed that he says, or has said through his attorney yesterday, that he has -- he has mentioned it to some friends, and some reporters are also friends. That's a perfectly fine wiggle as far as I'm concerned. I consider myself both to still to be a friend of his and a reporter. I didn't have any idea he was going to go to this length. I can -- I can but I won't name any number of reporters who know that's not true.

>My distaste for Clinton's policies should be pretty
>clear. The right hates Blumenthal so much because
>he is only too happy to give them back exactly what
>they expect liberals to roll over for. For me that's
>enough reason to have some regard for Mr. B.

Probably a reason why the two were friends.

>As for the waif Monica, here in D.C., though I haven't
>followed the events as closely as someone who
>spent a lot of time watching C-span, I don't get this
>picture at all. Dumb, yes. Innocent, no. Stalker,
>oh yeah. How else interpret her continual hectoring
>of Clinton. She wanted to get paid. She thought
>she should get a job in "corporate strategy,"
>though in her words she didn't think she ought to
>do any work to attain such a position. From where
>I sit, she's Princess Bimbo. It's not as if she hadn't
>sufficient advantages in life to forego announcing
>that she was going to be an intern in the White House
>and was bringing her knee pads. With Willey there is
>less unambiguous evidence to go on; maybe she
>was wronged, maybe not. Indicatations are she
>was not wronged. A reputable investigative journalist
>friend of mine says Paula J. was a trailer park whore
>who jacked Clinton up; she wanted to get paid too.

It's not that Monica and Willey and Hitchens are allowing the Republicans to do this to Clinton, he did it to himself. Blumenthal among numerous others tried to save Clinton from himself. But the point seems moot to me. The Democrats picked up five seats last election and the Republicans are begging 3 incumbents not to retire so they won't lose the House. And now we come to the micro/macro heart of the matter. Or as Nathan argues: it's the precedent stupid.

>President Willy is a predator who helps himself into
>these spots, to the detriment of his family, friends,
>and constituents. But the macro context of the Starr
>campaign outweighs that in my view, as does the
>micro context of a friendship betrayed.

I think Willy is an important part of the macro context. His constituents - those benefiting from his public polices - are doing fine. The frog is slowly cooking on the proverbial frying pan. The friendship betrayed is between Hitchens and Blumenthal and not all one way at that.


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