Fidel Blackmail Clinton? Er, How?

Fidel Blackmail Clinton? Er, How?

Fidel Blackmail Clinton? Er, How?

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
April 24 2000 11:59 AM

Fidel Blackmail Clinton? Er, How?

Chatterbox's nominee for Most Insane Right-Wing Allegation About Elián is that Bill Clinton ordered the Elián raid because he's being blackmailed by Fidel Castro. This delightful piece of folklore appears not once but twice on the Wall Street Journal's April 24 editorial page. Here's a snippet from the lead editorial, "A Victory for Fidel":

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What most of all needs to be explained is the urgency the Clinton administration has attached to this issue. The INS reversed its positions, remember, after Castro made it a national issue. The best interest of the child certainly doesn't wash after Saturday's spectacle. The resort to force at least skirted the court decision, and the political risks were manifest in the photos and TV footage. This cannot be Janet Reno but must be Bill Clinton. Why?

Richard Nuccio, a former State Department Cuba adviser for the Clinton administration, has been on television describing the decision to elevate Elián's fate into a "national security issue." It came in early December after the head of the Cuban National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon, gave a speech in Havana linking Elián's return with the accord designed to prevent any repeats of the mass boatlifts from Cuba.  Bill Clinton's only election loss as governor came after Cubans from the Mariel boatlift rioted in Arkansas, and he would be sensitive to the prospect of a repetition during the Gore election campaign he looks to for vindication. In light of impeachment revelations, we might also add that Cuba was the Soviet Union's espionage listening-post on the U.S., and Castro might have access to embarrassing information. [Italics Chatterbox's.]

Actually, there are two theories floated here. Theory One is that Clinton ordered the raid because he worried that a repeat of the 1980 Mariel boatlift would harm Al Gore. Chatterbox finds it fairly implausible that Bill Clinton would be bending himself like a pretzel to accommodate Gore over an issue on which Gore has been critical of White House policy. (After the raid, Gore issued a statement repeating his preference that the issue be settled in family court and pointedly--and, to Chatterbox's mind, somewhat disgracefully--not offering a syllable of praise for how Janet Reno and/or Bill Clinton handled the Elián raid.)

Theory Two is that Fidel Castro knows something embarrassing about Bill Clinton's sex life (that's the meaning of the phrase "impeachment revelations") and is threatening to reveal it. In an accompanying Op-Ed, Journal contributing editor Peggy Noonan elaborates:

Was Mr. Clinton being blackmailed? The Starr report tells us of what the president said to Monica Lewinsky about their telephone sex: that there was reason to believe that they were monitored by a foreign intelligence service. Naturally the service would have taped the calls, to use in the blackmail of the president. Maybe it was Mr. Castro's intelligence service, or that of a Castro friend.

Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to ...

There's something delightful about the right-wing outrage over Fidel blackmailing a United States president about his sex life. (How dare he? That's our job!) But Chatterbox won't dwell on this aspect, because it remains true that Clinton should have resigned once it was established that he'd lied under oath about Monica Lewinsky--and not only because it would have meant Al Gore would now be running as an incumbent. The point remains, however, that the world now knows more about Bill Clinton's sexual misadventures than it really wants to. What could Fidel possibly tell it that would do Clinton further damage? That he had a threesome with Noonan and Journal editorial page editor Bob Bartley? Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to ...