Monday, October 15, 2007
I think the magazine's refusal to be mau-maued by the Clintons at the time - and Hillary was threatening blue murder against anyone who so much as dared to criticize her - is a feather in the magazine's cap.
Really? I was there at the time, and I don't remember any sort of atmosphere of intimidation coming from the Clinton White House about this or any issue. I attacked the Clintons in TNR a lot--starting with as nasty an article as I could write about Hillary when her husband took office. Nobody ever threatened me with blue murder or was even unfriendly. Maybe Sidney Blumenthal raised an eyebrow passing me in the street--but Sidney is always raising his eyebrows. Perhaps Sullivan had a different experience. But since McCaughey's article had (as I remember it) the unswerving support of his magazine's owner, it hardly took courage in any case to publish it.
P.S.: McCaughey's article proved to be a turning point in the debate over Hillarycare, but not because it was a convincing document. It was a turning point because Clinton's White House chose to mount a big rebuttal, and produced what I remember as one of the least convincing documents I'd ever read. People figured, well, if this is the best they've got against Betsy McCaughey, maybe she's on to something. ... I specifically remember that the Clintonite rebuttal, like Ambitious Whippersnapper Ezra Klein's recent blog post, made a big deal of the following provision in the law:
"Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting the following: (1) An individual from purchasing any health care services."
But of course laws have sweeping introductory provisions like this all the time, only to undermine them in the fine print. Maybe the Clinton legislation didn't undermine this particular sweeping provision--but the Clinton spinners were fools to think anyone would be convinced by the sweeping provision itself. Or, rather, they were treating the press like fools, and the press doesn't appreciate that. ...
If the White House had just ignored McCaughey's piece, it would probably have gone away. The damage was almost entirely self-inflicted. ... 1:43 A.M.