Which is It?

Conniff and Frum

Which is It?

Conniff and Frum

Which is It?
An email conversation about the news of the day.
Aug. 14 1998 4:37 PM

Conniff and Frum

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I give up: I'm not clever enough to be a Progressive. I can't follow the sinuosities of your thinking. How can it be "beyond revolting" for the president to be considering perjuring himself about Monica Lewinsky, and then "embarrassing and pitiful and small" for Starr to catch him? You seem to want to have it both ways--to take both Geraldo's lines and Michael Kelly's--and that is a subtlety beyond my ability to comprehend. Nor do I understand how you can denounce the Clinton administration's tepid attempt to enforce international arms controls upon Iraq--and then call for a new round of international arms controls in place of the old ones.

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By the way: if sanctions against Iraq are so bad, what do you think of sanctions against India and Pakistan? Against China? Against Libya? Against Iran? Against Burma? (I won't ask about Cuba and the old South Africa because I know your answers: Cuban sanctions bad; South African sanctions good.)

But let's go back to this Clinton business. Monday will be one of the biggest news days in recent American history. By Monday night, we'll know either that the president has stuck to the story he swore to in the Paula Jones case (in which case he's almost certainly perjured himself before a federal grand jury) or else disavowed it (in which case, the head of an administration that has vigorously prosecuted sexual harassment in the private sector will have confessed to perjury to protect himself in a sexual harassment case). At that point, it's going to be very difficult to reconcile your wish to grant the president the right to disport himself as he pleases, no questions asked, with your distaste for official lying. I think you are about to discover that today's attempt to find a "third way" between Clinton and Starr is as doomed as yesterday's attempt to find a "third way" between socialism and free market.

Yrs, DF

Ruth Conniff is Washington editor of Progressive magazine. David Frum is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard. He is the author of What's Right: The New Conservative Majority and the Remaking of America.