As for the Lewinsky matter—it was all very simple: It was about the efforts of rigid, culturally repressed conservatives like Starr to use sex as a "tracer" and a "code" to thwart progressive politics. Remember Vernon Jordan's phone call to Revlon to get Lewinsky a job—made just days after Clinton's lawyers learned that Lewinsky was on a witness list in the Paula Jones case? There's barely a mention of that. What does Blumenthal have to say about Clinton's famous session with presidential secretary Betty Currie right after he testified falsely in his deposition? ("I was never alone with Monica, right?" he said. "Monica came on to me and I never touched her, right?") He never talks about it.
"It is my serious intent to have written this as a history," Blumenthal recently told the New York Times, insisting that his book was written "dispassionately." But not to belabor the obvious, to write history, you have to have some basic respect for the historical record. You have to make at least some effort at understanding the motivations and thinking of political antagonists—including those you happen to strongly disagree with. Blumenthal has done none of this. His book isn't history; it's one big orgy of political spin.
Correction, May 22, 2003: James Bennet is not a friend of Blumenthal's.
TODAY IN SLATE
I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.
Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.
After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales
Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos
If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter
Giving Up on Goodell
How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.