Flytrap Goes for Baroque

Aug. 8 1998 3:30 AM

Flytrap Goes for Baroque

A roundup of Lewinsky conspiracy theories.

It is a popular view among pundits that Flytrap has entered what they like to call its "endgame." But I think the scandal has moved into a very different phase: the Baroque.

Advertisement

Here's what I mean. Flytrap as a journalistic enterprise is in a holding pattern. Everyone is waiting--for leaks about Monica Lewinsky's testimony, for the DNA tests, for Clinton's grand jury day. There is a vacuum of genuinely new information.

David Plotz David Plotz

David Plotz is Slate's editor at large. He's the author of The Genius Factory and Good Book.

Punditry abhors a vacuum. So, in the absence of news, journalists and analysts are concocting ever more ornate theories to explain what could be happening, sculpting the long available info into gaudy new patterns. Some of these theories are based on intelligent guesswork. Some belong to the "I have a friend who has a friend who talked to the president who said ..." school. Some are malicious rumor. Some are wishful thinking. Some may even have a tenuous relationship to an actual fact. But, at bottom, all are founded on essentially the same knowledge base: none.

The result: spectacular theories, tales decorated with filigree and gilded rosettes and stucco clouds. Since these may be the final few days before real new facts about Flytrap emerge, let's take a last chance to revel in the Baroque. Having spent the past few days collecting theories from colleagues, sources, and other scandalholics, I offer you a few of the best (divided into appropriate categories).

The "She Still Loves Him" Theories

1) The main source of leaks about the dress, the answering machine messages, the talking points, and Monica's testimony is none other than Monica herself (through her lawyers). Why would she leak? Because she still adores him, and she wants to signal him about how he can protect himself when he testifies.

2) Monica is testifying only because she wants to force Clinton to admit their love affair to the world.

3) The dress is a sham. There are no stains. Monica gave it to Starr to discredit his investigation and save Clinton.

Other Theories About the Dress Not Contingent on Monica Loving Him

1) Monica, ever imaginative, bragged about the dress to Linda Tripp even though it was just an ordinary dress. When Starr negotiated with her, he asked about it. Monica then used the dress as a bargaining chip to guarantee her full immunity, even though she knew there was nothing on it. Since she has full immunity, it doesn't hurt her if it's bogus.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.