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May 23, 2006

Andy's World

I'm not quite sure how it works, but Sullivan seems to think that Bill Clinton begged Ken Starr widen the purview of his original probe so it included Monica Lewinsky. He then appears to believe that Clinton didn't lie on national television in a last ditch attempt to keep his affair from becoming public. It's bizarre. He actually writes that "no marriage has generated as much political and cultural buzz over the years as the Clintons' - and they have all but insisted we analyze it." Insisted? If by insisted he means stonewalled and raged against, then yeah, maybe. He then says "the prospect of revisiting the gruesome details of Bill's private life for another election cycle, let alone a term in office, is just too hideous to contemplate. When you recall what he got up to as president, can you imagine the attention-seeking shenanigans he'd pursue if he were First Husband? They love their psycho-drama. And they're entitled to it. Just leave us out of it this time, ok?"

So stay out of it Andy. Nobody forced you to write that post, and the Clintons didn't commission the New York Times article. If you want out of their private life, turn your firepower on the media that keeps spraying it across your morning paper. But blaming the Clintons because you and your ilk are obsessed with their fidelity is a rather remarkable exercise in projection.

May 23, 2006 | Permalink


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Andy posted those HIV-pos barebacking lonelyhearts ads because he all but begged us to make a spectacle of his curiously bifurcated moral universe, right?

What's sauce for the goose...

Posted by: Jimmm | May 23, 2006 1:03:33 PM

I don't think it's clear who the Times article helps or hurts; nor do I think it's at all clear whether the Clintons were in favor of it or not (the fact that their aides and some 50 frends were willing to participate does seem to suggest that they weren't exactly opposed to the idea, but who knows). And I think what Sullivan means about "all but insisted we analyze it" is about 1992, not the Lewinsky saga. It may be that the Clintons didn't create the nosy, gossip-y, tabloid-y world around them; but they've shown a curious power to live within it, not above it. I'm not trying to be some crusader here about fidelity in marriage, but that is sure to be part of a Presidential cycle with Hillary in the race. What I can't tell is if the article helps them by making their marriage seem more commonplace than not, or if it hurts because the tale of their closeness is knit together by assistants and loyal entourage (and contains lovely moments of things like Clinton palling around LA with "bachelor" Ron Burkle). And it is something for Dems to contemplate - there will be more of this, not less of it, if she runs and she gets the nomination. Do we really want that? I'm just asking... I really don't know if I care so much one way or the other. But I suspect others do.

Posted by: weboy | May 23, 2006 1:32:17 PM

Yes, has Andy moved into the Phillip Johnson house, the one made of glass walls? Wanker.

Posted by: Mr. Bill | May 23, 2006 1:33:49 PM

Yeah! How fucking gruesome would it be to have to deal with tabloidesque shit spalshed across the pages. SPARE ME!

I would much rather get an update as to how many people have been killed thanks to the policies of the President!

Posted by: media in trouble | May 23, 2006 1:38:23 PM

Press Release
Contact: Mike McCurry

President Prepares to Have Sex With that Woman, Miss Lewinsky

In an effort to convince voters that his marriage is a mess and he likes overweight interns, President Clinton today said, "I hope the country knows that I fully intend to be fellated, repeatedly, by one Monica Lewinsky."

Mrs. Clinton will play up her jilted wife pose for political gain as soon as she senses it will help her.


Posted by: Oliver | May 23, 2006 1:54:22 PM

IIRC Michiko Kakutani did something very similar in a review of a book about the Clintons--blamed them for the press coverage.

Blame the victim, baby--is there anything we as Americans do better?

Posted by: Dr. Pedant | May 23, 2006 1:55:13 PM

That was a joke, right? I mean, that had to be some sort of attempt at meta humor. There's no other explaination for the fact that a columnist would write about something he doesn't feel should be written about, is there? I mean, someone who is paid to write about stuff and bloviate on things like this wouldn't overlook that glaring bit of idiocy and actually say that the Clintons asked for their personal lives and sexual encounters to be continuously written about.

Posted by: salty | May 23, 2006 2:16:18 PM

weboy: I had also wondered about whether the Clintons were opposed to the article, but on closer reading it states, "The Clintons and, for the most part, their aides declined to cooperate for this article and urged others not to cooperate as well. "

Posted by: alkali | May 23, 2006 2:22:52 PM

And of course, he has just endorsed the script for why it will be okay to vote against a gay man as President--"can you imagine the attention-seeking shenanigans he'd pursue if he were First Husband? They love their psycho-drama. And they're entitled to it. Just leave us out of it this time, ok?"

Golly gee, I can't imagine homophobes will try to justify their prejudice by claiming that the problem with gays is that they won't keep it private, but that their sexuality will be such a public issue. Because they'll just FLAUNT their sexuality. Let's all not get sucked into the DRAMA, and not vote for the gay.

What a stupid ass that Sullivan is. He doesn't like the Clintons, fine, but pretending his personal distaste is somehow high-minded and justified sets up horrible precedents that will be used to hurt good people.

Posted by: theorajones | May 23, 2006 2:26:23 PM

Um, shouldn't that be "spurted" across his front page?

Posted by: ignoreland | May 23, 2006 2:51:13 PM

Anabolic Andy is suffering from both delusions and short-memory syndrome.

Posted by: Brad Street | May 23, 2006 2:54:28 PM

Ezra, I'm not sure whether your tenures at TNR overlaped. But are you just amazed that your pathetic former editor is still employed by deep pocket corporations?

How many stupid comments can he make before people stop hiring him?

Please don't make me write about your personal life again! What an inane premise.

And to pretend that a few acts of infidelity are a serious issue after Sullivan's poster boy Bush led the country into a disastrous war crippling thousands - that's just crazy.

L'il Roy - Alterman's got the nickname down.

Posted by: Samuel Knight | May 23, 2006 3:22:10 PM

OTOH, when is the NYT companion piece on Condoleeza Rice gonna appear---and will it speculate on her relationship with her "husband" or will it be silent in regards to her dubious sexual orientation-or apparent lack thereof?

will it stoop to speculate as to whether Republican America could accept an African-American "first husband" (beard??) versus a white one married to a Black woman.

hmmmmm. I won't hold my breath waiting for that.

Posted by: susan | May 23, 2006 3:50:12 PM

That's a common type of statement uttered by abusers as they beat up their victims. "Don't keep making me hit you!"


Posted by: JohnQPublic | May 23, 2006 4:04:09 PM

Stop me! Before I smear again!

Posted by: AndyPandy | May 23, 2006 4:14:09 PM

"How many stupid comments can he make before people stop hiring him?"

Stupid comments are hardly a barrier in the modern media universe. Consider the careers of Friedman, T., Dowd, M., Safire, W., etc.

Posted by: sglover | May 23, 2006 4:17:43 PM

Sam -- I've never worked at TNR, I just freelanced an article for them a few months ago. Not to mention, I was about 10 when Andy was at TNR.

Posted by: Ezra | May 23, 2006 4:50:18 PM

The 2000 election was so close that there is no doubt in anyone's mind that if Bill Clinton had kept his promise to honor the office of the presidency and not make the oval office his private massage parlor, GORE would have won the White house handily. Mabe the Dems would have control of the Senate as well.

Say it ain't so...

Posted by: Fred Jones. | May 23, 2006 5:14:49 PM

About 10? G*d. But, you were very lucky not to have had to read TNR in those days.

To be frank going from Hertzberg and Kinsley to Sullivan and Kelly was one of the most stunning transformations in magazine history. Really, BTW Kinsley used to be a genius!

Anyway, on Fred's note. Yup it would have been better for the country if Clinton hadn't fooled around. But frankly if you have to choose between the sin of a bJ and wasting $70 million taxpayer bucks and peaking into someone's private lives for no good reason, well I think Ken Starr had Clinton beat.

Frankly it wasn't Clinton's sex that beat Gore. Gore beat Gore by not running on their record, and not flat out saying: "You've got to be kidding, he had oral sex, that's bad. But he did a great job running the country, and that's all that really matters. And, holy moly, Clinton was a piker next to Kennedy and not too many people hold that against him. Give me a break and find someone else to lecture. Maybe Newt, Hyde or Livingston for example.."

And I say the latter strongtly believing that Clinton was a horrible leader of the Democratic Party. Gore learned from his beating, it doesn't appear that Bill Clinton has.

Posted by: Samuel Knight | May 23, 2006 5:25:54 PM

The whole country cared, even if *you* believe they shouldn't have.

Even GORE was smart enough to not let Clinton campaign for him.

Posted by: Fred Jones. | May 23, 2006 5:54:39 PM

Some of the country cared. Plenty didn't. I didn't. Lots of people I know didn't. Lots of people I know did. I don't think any of us can speak for "the whole country."

Posted by: gravie | May 23, 2006 6:00:13 PM

For the most part the country did not care, and there are polls that were taken that show this was the case, Fred.

Gore lost the presidency due to a flawed Supreme Court decision.

I don't understand why the NYT is so intent on underming their own credibility as a "paper of record".

Posted by: anony | May 23, 2006 6:09:00 PM

The prospect of revisiting the gruesome details of Andrew Sullivan's private life for another instant is why I avoid reading anything with his name on it or in it, as much as possible.

Posted by: Kevin J-M | May 23, 2006 6:57:08 PM

Fred sed: "The 2000 election was so close that there is no doubt in anyone's mind that..." blather and on...

Unsupported generalization. There are many reasons put forward for why Bush took the oath of office in 2001 rather than Gore. To say that there's "no doubt" is to crate consensus where there is none. You and some others may believe that anti-Clinton frenzy kept Gore out of the White House. I doubt that, and I know others who doubt it and have theories with actual data to support them.

Posted by: Kevin J-M | May 23, 2006 7:06:13 PM

I find all the rehashing vaguely depressing - this weekend's Gore-fest brought back much of the awfulness, and this article goes that much further. I think Clinton was a great President and a flawed (deeply flawed, really) man. I don't know that one can separate one from the other. Does it matter that he was involved with Monica Lewinsky? Sure. It doesn't matter in the way the Clinton-hating machine wanted it to, and the impeachment proceedings were their big mistake, but their excesses don't negate that for the President to have engaged in such foolishness was mistaken and, well, tacky. I know "tacky" is somehow un-PC, and we all have our mores on where extramarital dalliances fall, but the Clintons sold a notion of themselves and their marriage and their values and this was clearly not part of that picture. That said, I don't think people, many anyway, if they're honest with themselves about it, had a lot of illusions who Clinton was. They just didn't want it thrown in their face, or to be confronted with the possibility that it might happen again.

I'm sympathetic to the notion that Gore had a thankless task in 2000, of running on a positive legacy, but distancing himself from some personal bad behavior. It may be, generously, that even a master politician couldn't have gotten past it. I don't necessarily buy that, though, and I think the way Gore and the people around him lurched (if pro-Gore people have a nicer term for this, I'm all ears) from solution to solution to the "Clinton question" underlined why Gore wasn't quite closing the deal.

And Hillary did, and she could do it again, but she won't do it without intense scrutiny and speculation on her marriage. Surely she knows it, and surely there's a team thinking about it. And to attack Sullivan - my goodness, he drives the left and the right crazy... and suddenly, I find myself liking him a bit more for sticking to his own idiosyncratic course - for pointing out the obvious seems harsh and a bit over the top. I'll be plain - I don't think the Times should have done the story; I think it's invasive and designed to subtly undermine Hillary while looking like the opposite. But in doing the story, they got in front of what is sure to be part of the run to 2008, more of the deconstructing of the "Bill and Hillary show" and what it says about Them. And Us. And I don't think Sullivan is that off in saying that it's depressing and a little painful to see this stuff rehashed again. I think giving Sullivan (and by extension, The Times) the lion's share of the blame for reigniting this is similar to the right wing's "iberal bias" anti-media chorus: it could be bias. It could also be that you're wrong. It could be that the Clintons are just hapless victims of hate-filled noise machine that decided long ago to try and destroy them. Or, it could be that perhaps the problem isn't the reporting; it's the stuff that's being reported. And "hapless victim" really doesn't cut it. Everyone's at least a little dirty on this one.

Posted by: weboy | May 23, 2006 7:16:10 PM

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