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
The Ebola Story
How our minds build narratives out of disaster.
The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics
A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.