This isn't Argument. It's Mere Refutation!

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
April 12 1998 6:12 PM

This isn't Argument. It's Mere Refutation!

Something has happened to the argument over Flytrap in Washington. It's become tedious. Initially the issues were legion, the ramifications seemingly kaleidoscopic, the players unsure of their positions. There were traitors and apostates, Clintonite Clinton critics and conservative presidency-defenders, and many who were simply confused and bemused. Now things have settled out, along binary lines that are all too familiar. "Everyone lies about sex." "But it was under oath." "So what. " "It's a crime." No it isn't. Yes it is. 'Tis not. Etc.. Everyone's had this argument; everyone's been annoyed by not winning this argument; nobody wants to have this argument again. Were somebody to start it at a Washington cocktail party, the guests would scurry into the other room as surely as if that someone had said "Let's build the bridge to the 21st century" or attempted to redebate the Vietnam War ... Of course, Washingtonians may have chosen up sides in this fashion in part because so many people in the capital need to choose up sides in order to do their jobs, in part because the only thing more boring than having an opinion on Flytrap is not having one ("Well, I think only time will tell." "Gee, I'm so glad I invited you...."). Outside of Washington, where people never cared that much about Flytrap in the first place, opinions may be much less dug in, more vaguely-formed and fluid. ... The catch is that the Washington commentariat is tempted to conclude that Flytrap is over because it is bored with the scandal. But in the rest of America, the scandal may simply have yet to catch on ... Only time will tell! ...

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Mulholland Dive: The Washington Times reports in its April 11 edition that a Democratic party official from California, Bob Mulholland, is gathering marital dirt on Republicans who might vote on Clinton's impeachment. Mulholland doesn't duck the charge: "Many of the House Judiciary members are divorced, and their divorce papers contain a lot of interesting information, and we'll be sharing that with the American people," he tells the Times ... Fair enough. Honest blackmail! ... Well, not completely honest, since the main charge against Clinton isn't marital infidelity, it's perjury and obstruction of justice. ... Mulholland is good at his job. If I were a Republican I'd worry more about him and less about Sidney Blumenthal. ... Even Chatterbox once did a bit of business with Mulholland. What kind of business? Let's just say that a Reagan-Republican Senate candidate in California was known to somewhat hypocritically visit a Los Angeles newsstand that featured an extensive selection of adult magazines. Chatterbox heard about this from a friend, told someone else, and eventually got a call from Mulholland, who asked for the name of the newsstand, which Chatterbox provided. Four days before the election, with one poll showing the candidates in a virtual tie, Mulholland got the story out by shouting questions at the Republican during a campaign stop--accusing him of also patronizing a Sunset Boulevard strip club. He admitted going to the club, which he called "a cocktail place." Witnesses confirmed his newsstand habits. He did not win. Democrat Barbara Boxer, who did, owes Chatterbox a medium-sized chit. ... Given this incident, however, Mulholland would probably be the wrong spokesman to righteously attack Kenneth Starr for trying to learn about Monica Lewinsky's semi-pornographic bookstore purchases ...

Note to starving freelance writers: If you've been recruited to write op-ed opinion pieces praising Microsoft, as part of the phony Microsoft "grass roots" PR campaign revealed in Friday's Los Angeles Times, don't consider the rent paid just yet! Specifically, have you ever tried actually getting a freelance writing check out of Microsoft's notorious Accounts Payable department? Expect roughly the same effort it might take to obtain payment from the Defense Department for a small anti-ballistic missile system. ... Don't believe it? You might want to look up Daniel Seligman's article in the October 6, 1997 Weekly Standard on "How Microsoft Pays Its Bills"... Chatterbox's theory: in the exciting new world of personal computing, you can create unlimited amounts of paperwork without even the constraint of having to buy the paper! ...Recommendation: Demand cash up front, before you write a word! It works for Chatterbox! ...

Straight to Video: Chatterbox (having been paid) was about to write an exciting item about the Fall of the Pundettes--Laura Ingraham out at CBS! Ann Coulter out at MSNBC! We're bored with blonde right-wing babes! Etc. But now Chatterbox has learned that a) Ingraham will announce a big deal with NBC tomorrow; and b) practically all of MSNBC's "contributors," not just Coulter, are kaput. ... Never mind. ...

Why Fannie May Fear the Post: Thursday's fair and balanced assessment of Fannie Mae's James Johnson mentioned that the Fannie Mae Foundation and the Washington Post cosponsor a series of free concerts at the Kennedy Center (which Johnson also heads). The concerts, which began in 1997, are one way for Johnson to get friendly with a major journalistic institution that might write nasty things about Fannie Mae. But Chatterbox's boss rightly points out that the Post has, in fact, written nasty things about Fannie Mae. In January, 1995, before the Post-Fannie Mae cultural freebies began, the Post gave prominent play to a tough two-part series by David Vise, entitled "The Money Machine: How Fannie Mae Wields Power." The highlight: To prevent the financially-stricken D.C. government from trying to collect some $300 million in local taxes, Fannie Mae threatens to drop its $3 million in support for D.C. charities. And the threat works! ...

Deeply Disturbing Ginsburg Quote of the Week:

"Mr. Starr, have you no shame? Facts and law are always subordinated to the will of the American people."

--William Ginsburg, attorney for Monica Lewinsky

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