February 16, 2010
Clinton v. Starr
A new book purports to be the definitive history of that calamity.
Terry Gross interviewed the author today, and he says he tried to be neutral and balanced.
Well, maybe. I don't think this is exactly balanced:
The decision to move from Whitewater to Lewinsky, Gormley says, "altered Ken Starr's legacy as a prosecutor."
"There is no question that [Starr's office] had lost perspective," Gormley says. "Their job was not to get a person — it was to investigate. And there was such a lack of restraint on both sides, which ended up being bad for the country."
I don't recall the Democrats being particularly unrestrained, other than to say that the Republicans were demonstrably crazy. If he's lumping Larry Flynt's investigations in with the Democrats, he's in error.
Ah well, looks like an interesting read. My library doesn't have it yet, unfortunately.
Posted by Linkmeister at February 16, 2010 03:19 PM
I heard the interview, and also want to read the book, from my local library as well. Jinx!
As I remember that section, the other side wasn't Democrats, it was President Clinton, who was convinced the whole thing was an attempt at regime change, and stonewalled, fought dirty, and done everything he could to get rid of the investigation. (I'm not sure Clinton was wrong about that, by the way.)
But the author seemed to be saying that the investigators believed that they turned up nothing not because there was nothing to find, but because Clinton was successfully hiding his tracks. If he had been more forthcoming, they would have realized that there was nothing there, and dropped the case. (And I'm not sure the author is right about that, but that's what I heard him say.)
I missed a fair bit of the interview, being in and out of a drugstore while it was going on. It's likely I missed the section you're relating.
I don't think there's any question that regime change was the ultimate goal. I don't know why they thought Al Gore would pursue different policy goals, though.
Yeah, I never got that at all. Were they thinking that they could then go ahead and impeach Gore, and then get Gingrich into office? Or that the Democrats would be so shattered that they would offer no effective resistance to their policy demands?
It never made any sense, except as a really bone-deep, visceral hatred of Clinton that made rational thought impossible. I wonder if it was driven by one subset of the party dragging the rest of the GOP along, much like the current Sarah Palin mess.
Whatever, I'm looking forward to the book.
I think Clinton felt (rightfully, in my view) that the Whitewater investigation was purely political, as were TravelGate and several of the other "scandals." Then when it morphed into the Paula Jones and Lewinsky investigations it became personal as well, which (I think) meant all bets were off and he'd obstruct his opponents as much as he could.
I've got it on reserve from my library too, but I'm way down the list. Damn.
It's pretty sad to remember that back then it seemed inevitable to everyone that Gore would succeed Clinton. The Republicans had no real challenger. Clinton was popular, Gore was popular, the country was prospering and at peace. If they'd succeeded in impeaching Clinton, the Republicans would have had two years to beat up on Gore and tie him to the scandal to weaken him for 2000. And Jesse Helms was looking to get Gore too, so maybe they'd have tried to impeach him too.
At the time they started Newt Gingrich was still Speaker of the House, so if they'd driven Clinton from the White House---and I think they're initial goal was to force him to resign---Gingrich would have been next in line.
Getting revenge for Nixon was on their minds too.
Ultimately, I think it became the case that Republicans felt like the Coyote chasing the Road Runner and they weren't thinking anymore just furiously reacting.