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Jewish World Review March 11, 1999 /23 Adar 5759

MUGGER with John Strausbaugh

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Who is Dorothy Rabinowitz? (Page II)

Smith: Something that Iíve noticed in the last week is that a lot of liberal pundits have flipped on this issue. Richard Cohen in The Washington Post, for one... He essentially was for acquittal of Clinton. In a column of Feb. 23, he said, "It takes more than a village, it takes chutzpah." He was amazed about the rape charge. Stephanie Salter of the San Francisco Examiner wrote, "It is with a heavy heart and not a little nausea that I resign from the Bill Clinton defense team." The Boston Globe on March 3 said that "...while her story is no longer legally relevant after 21 years, it is still morally relevant, for it concerns the man elected to lead a nation. Itís time for Bill Clinton to tell us who that man is." For the Boston Globe to do tható

It is amazing.

Smith: One by one, theyíre falling. What do you make of that?

You canít get on the wrong side of this question. Thatís what I make of it.

Smith: In the mainstream press, you started this.

Broaddrick during Dateline interview
Well, I think itís fair to say that I edged it out [into the mainstream]. But I think that you have a woman here whoís special. I mean, if you look at "Conventional Wisdom" in Newsweek this week, it actually has Juanita Broaddrick up. Thatís new. The old conventional wisdom was that if you talk no one believes you. The new is, if you talk they believe you. Meaning they believed her. She presented a coherent and credible case... We have this incredibly persuasive, pained vision before us. A woman, reluctantly, piece by piece, thrown out into the world to tell this story, who never sought any outlet for this until she was forced by this gossip....

I also think...what this President has done, by the troubles he has brought upon himself, is forced people to violate their own logic and reason and standards, in order to keep him in office. The New York Times editorial page being a classic example, having chased the President, bitterly and terribly and with the most eloquent prose, suddenly spent the last two months reversing itself. That must have taken quite a toll. So all of a sudden you finally get another case, and it just comes out of you: "I have had enough." The excuse-making stopped.

Smith: What did you make of Donna Shalalaís statementóIím quoting from The Washington Post: "ĎI take all of this very seriously,í Shalala said of Broaddrickís allegations, adding that ĎI do not compartmentalize [a cliche that I hope disappears soon]...í At the same time, Shalala said, ĎIím both a patriot and a professional; I serve the nation and the president.í" What kind of gobbledygook is that?

I canít imagine what she means. Well, a person with very strong feminist ties, shall we say, has got to say, "I take this very seriously." You canít be caught saying, "I donít take a rape charge seriously from this credible source." So we can understand that part. Thatís the mantra now, "Take it seriously"Ö I think their minds [being] under stress from working for this President, and their willingness to abide every piece of chicanery, and to excuse it, and to excuse it... I think that this has probably caused their brains to kind of go into a paralysis. They donít know what theyíre saying, thereís a kind of automatic mumbo jumbo that comes out, and youíre expected to understand what they mean. Thatís it. It means nothing.

Smith: Why do you think no cabinet members have resigned?

Because we live in a new age. Weíre not the nation that we used to be.

The idea of honoróthe idea that you can be an Archibald Cox or Cyrus Vanceóis simply not a part of this culture. This is such a loyalist-adversary culture, so steeped in its own...

Well, and look what they get. Theyíre lifted out of their well-deserved obscurityóthey have been hacks in their little jobsóand all of a sudden this forward-looking couple propels them to this kind of stardom where they can run around and say, "Iím for women. Iím for good. Iím for truth and beauty." They are not going to give it up, because being in power is really all that matters to them. Thatís always been true of a great many people in politics. Are they going to give this up because something has been violated, like truth and justice andónonsense! Theyíre not going to give up their place next to Clinton, and everything that the White House brings to it. And thatís the cruel logic of it.

Just look at Madeleine Albright. This yenta walking around, prancing.

You can visibly see her absolutely limitless joy in the fact that she has been catapulted to this stardom... Is Madeleine Albright going to do anything except stand next to Clinton, as she did in that ludicrous scene on the White House lawn, those three womenó"I believe him." "I believe him." "I believe him." And then when he was proved to have lied, they disappear. Theyíre all Ann Lewis, every one of them. They are not going to give up their place in the sun, and they are not going to give up their stardom. Thatís what it is, stardomópolitical stardom.

We were once another country, a country with really different values.

"If I stay in this post, my name is forever besmirched. I believe in something." If you ask these people what they believe in they havenít the faintest idea. There isnít anything, in fact, that they believe in, so thatís why they lack this internal sense of violation. It isnít there, you know, to be violated.

Smith: What did you make of your exchange with Alan Dershowitz on the Today show?

I accepted him as the second guest. I refused to go on with Susan Estrich, and so they gave me Alan... There are certain people whose views simply donít rise to the level that one should pay attention to. So how many more times do you have to hear about her rape?

Dershowitz lapsed into demagoguery at the end. He cannot not do that. And so he screamed, "This is gossip! This is gossip!" Well, itís not gossip. He will say, "Dorothy, you made yourself part of the story by telling Broaddrick to go to The New York Times." No matter how carefully I explained why I made it possible for The New York Timesó Smith: Not that they did anything with it. And he never admits that heís been at dinner parties with Clinton.

Look, he plastered himself to Clinton when Clinton visited the Vineyard. Never left his side. He would have been elevated to the highest realms of ecstasy if Clinton picked him as one of his aides or lawyers. Alan Dershowitz is, I do believe, in the last stages of dementiaósocial dementia. (laughter) There is no hope for this. His whole demeanor is of a man socially out of control, and I really donít think he can help saying... Every once in a while when you are talking to Dershowitz you see a glimmer of the old, civilized self, of a mind sort of working with facts and judging. But then comes the glaze of battle and he is once again that media person. The person who cannot get enough of it. There was a snowstorm in Boston the day I came on the Today show, and for one wild moment I thought, "Well, Dershowitz wonít make it to the studio."

The Dersh
Smith: I find it interesting how feminists are responding. Patricia Ireland [president of NOW], or Katha Pollitt in The Nation this week.

What does she have to say?

Smith: "Feminists in particular have nothing to gain, and much to lose, by rallying to the President in this matter. Itís one thing to distinguish carefully between sexual harassment and sexual hi-jinks in the Oval Office; rape is something else again. What feminists should do now is to stop playing to Bill Clintonís agenda and step up the pressure for our own. Women should turn up the heat for mandatory health insurance coverage of contraception, swift passage of the Violence Against Women Act II and, above all, justice for Clintonís other victimsóthe women and children pushed off public assistance by welfare reform. Perhaps the Republicans who called Anita Hill an erotomaniac with Ďproclivitiesí would like to prove the genuineness of their sudden conversion to the anti-violence-against-women movement by joining in."

Hmm! Yes, that is the tack they take... Itís just become too much, defending this man... Itís like Stalinism, it really is. The last holdouts. So heís done this, so heís done that, but he is the womenís president. I never understood it... I donít follow womenís issues, I just donít do it. It doesnít interest me. I donít pay any attention to it, I donít even know what they are. I vaguely know that it has to do with abortion. But I have no idea how he got to be this person who is a womenís president.

Smith: He is the first woman president.

Or how he got to be the first black president, I donít know either. Ask Lani Guinier how he got to be the first black president. How he got to be all of these people. You know, it was only when I went down to Arkansas and I sort of bathed in the charm of these people around me that I understood the kind of geniality that is born and bred there, and that he carries with him. It is very effective, and very, very nice, and very appealing. Maybe thatís the effect on them...

Our op-ed page today has a piece by [former sex crimes prosecutor] Cynthia Alksne ["Clinton Insults All Rape Victims," March 5]... Now, I have to say that over the year watching MSNBC, just sitting there listening to the endless, repetitive defense of Clinton by Cynthia Alksne on anythingóthis was too much for her. And she has written the most vituperative piece.

Smith: Another example of another person flipping... Why do you think Juanita Broaddrick went to that Clinton campaign rally shortly after the alleged assault?

It wasnít a campaign rally, it was a fundraiser. I donít even think he was there. She went for 15 minutes. She knew he wasnít going to be there... Itís what happens when you have suppressedóI donít mean forgotten, I mean suppressedóthe impact on you of [such an] event. I have come to know in recent days lots of women whoíve had events like this take place, and itís the worst [when the attacker is] someone you know and have had respect for. Shortly after the event youíre still dealing with it, youíre putting it away. To control your rage. As time goes on the true meaning of the aggression against you becomes a live force. Maybe the next year itís possible to confront this furyó"I let him do this to me! And he had the power to do it on me."

So my answer to you is, it was rather close to the time, her life was settling in, she went to a fundraiser. I also think that thereís a psychological dimension to it, a need to be in contact with the source of the aggression. "Whatís going to happen?" youíre saying. "If heís there will he know me? If heís there what will he say to me?" She said she got quite ill after 15 minutes, being there, and she had to leave.

Smith: Did you watch the Monica interview?

I did. I thought she was...that her medication was working. Her medication, and her publicist, were working very well, and I donít think she could possibly understand how much harm she did herself in that interview. She advanced her book, but...

Strausbaugh: Itís interesting to me the way that your past work and now this new story converge on the notion of sexual predation. People who are still defending Clinton at this point are at a very curious stage where they have to say, "Yes, we know heís a sexual predator, but then arenít all great men? Arenít all great leaders sexual predators, these men with these very strong sex drives?" It seems the last defense.

Yeah. Itís very hard to deal with... All year long, hearing them drag Franklin Rooseveltís name into this. "Oooh, he did it with Lucy." It drove me absolutely wild. Franklin Roosevelt had an affair with Lucy Mercer in 1920. 1920! He was assistant secretary of the Navy. And that was that. It was a deep and profound relationship, yet that didnít stop people, like the execrable Lanny Davis from getting up on television and saying, "Why wasnít Franklin Roosevelt brought up on charges? Why wasnít Dwight Eisenhower brought up?"... That stuff went on for weeks. That was the most maddening thing. I donít think people really can believe that every great man does this kind of thing. I think the effort to excuse Clinton is behind it. I think it is a semi-conscience effort.

And if you have to think that this is a great conservative plotóam I a conservative? Yeah? Iím a registered Democratówhich makes sense in New York. I have nothing to do with any of these investigations. Iím not a Clinton fan to be sure, but I donít hate him the way some people hate him. I donít. I donít have those feelings about him. But there are these facts that stand out. All of these women.

And itís interesting that all of the women who are so quick to excuse Clintonís predatory behavior with women are the very ones screaming about how we must pursue child abuse prosecutions at all costs. I have good reason to know that one of the reasons I didnít get the Pulitzer, and certainly one of the reasons the entire effort to liberate these people who have been falsely accused of child abuse is so attacked by the feministsóis their belief, their programmatic belief that behind every door lurks a predator with an upraised penis, and if you donít believe that youíre setting the war on child abuse behind. The whole war that started with protecting battered wives, it all came in this big bundle in the 80s, and it produced a lot of jobs for interrogators with two years of social work training, and a big baggage of complaints. Itís a very interesting reversal now, that they would excuse all of this molestation by Clintonówho is, of course, giving them their abortion rights.

N E X T_ P A G E .|. Conclusion

©1999, Russ Smith