Troopergate vs. Troopergate: Who's Crying Now?
Who said what about which state-trooper scandal?
Apparently, Americans are destined to suffer through periodic political scandals labeled "Troopergate." In 1993, we were plunged into the Bill Clinton/Paula Jones/Arkansas state-troopers version. Last year, we witnessed the Eliot Spitzer iteration, and this fall, we are forced to endure the Sarah Palin drunken brother-in-law Taser story. The truly delicious part is that some of the same folks who once proclaimed that the compulsive legal wrangling over Bill Clinton's "distinguishing characteristics" was motivated by the need for truth and transparency now dismiss as a partisan witch hunt the inquiry into Gov. Palin's dismissal of her former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. And vice versa, of course. Which scandal was truly a scandal, and which is just partisan politics run amok? Turns out the answer to that question often has more to do with one's own partisan politics than anything else.
The Bill Clinton version mess (Troopergate I) broke in 1993 with allegations from a pair of Arkansas state troopers that they had been involved in procuring some ladies for Gov. Clinton back in the day. It mushroomed into impeachment. The Sarah Palin version (Troopergate II) surfaced last July with allegations that Palin, or someone in her administration, improperly pressured Monegan to fire her ex-brother-in-law—state trooper Mike Wooten—for his misbehavior while divorcing her sister. When Monegan balked, she allegedly fired him. * Think you know which scandal is a baseless witch hunt? Think pundits can differentiate them any better? Herein, Slate presents Troopergate vs. Troopergate, the quotation quiz. We have substituted XXX for "Clinton" or "Palin" as necessary because this wouldn't be much of a quiz otherwise. Points for identifying the scandal. Double points if you can name the speaker.
1. This scandal was masterminded by "a small, intricately knit right-wing conspiracy—and I'd like that clarified."
2. "The media hysterically denounced XXX. … They tried to create a 'Troopergate.' "
3. "No one wants to get this matter behind us more than I do—except maybe all the rest of the American people."
4. "I'm happy to comply, to cooperate. I have absolutely nothing to hide."
5. "You [in the media] like to hurt people, and you like to talk about how bad people are and all their personal failings."
6. "In the course of a few weeks, the [members of the opposing party] have launched attack after attack on me, my family. … They're desperate to win and they'll no doubt launch these attacks against other reformers."
7. "This story seems ridiculous, and I frankly smell a rat."
8. "I think it's fair to say that XXX is not going to cooperate with that investigation so long as it remains tainted and run by partisan individuals that have a predetermined conclusion."
Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate.
Photographs of: Bill Clinton by Mario Tama/Getty Images; Sarah Palin by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.