PEEPING TOMS WITHOUT END, AMEN: Goldberg, haunted, says she believes!


Part 3—We don't exactly believe her:
Last Tuesday morning, Michelle Goldberg revealed herself as one of the great woman-haters.

Goldberg is the New York Times' newest hapless columnist. In her column that day, she stooped so low as to say that she actually doesn't "believe the accusers," not even if they're women:

"[W]e can't treat the feminist injunction to 'believe women' as absolute."

Believe it or not, she said that! In fairness, we should probably present Goldberg's fuller statement, in which she reveals that her thought were triggered by the tweet heard round the world.

Dramatic headline included, here's how Goldberg's column began. The tweet in question had come from Chris Hayes, with whom Goldberg has erred in the past:
GOLDBERG (11/14/17): I Believe Juanita

On Friday evening the MSNBC host Chris Hayes sent out a tweet that electrified online conservatives: ''As gross and cynical and hypocritical as the right's 'what about Bill Clinton' stuff is, it's also true that Democrats and the center left are overdue for a real reckoning with the allegations against him.'' Hayes's tweet inspired stories on Glenn Beck's The Blaze, Breitbart and The Daily Caller, all apparently eager to use the Clinton scandals to derail discussions about Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in Alabama who is accused of sexually assaulting minors.

Yet despite the right's evident bad faith, I agree with Hayes. In this #MeToo moment, when we're reassessing decades of male misbehavior and turning open secrets into exposes, we should look clearly at the credible evidence that Juanita Broaddrick told the truth when she accused Clinton of raping her. But revisiting the Clinton scandals in light of today's politics is complicated as well as painful. Democrats are guilty of apologizing for Clinton when they shouldn't have. At the same time, looking back at the smear campaign against the Clintons shows we can't treat the feminist injunction to ''believe women'' as absolute.
Hayes had tweeted out an exciting thought, one he doesn't seem prepared to discuss on his "cable news" program.

That said, we agree with Hayes too, up a point. We'll discuss this matter on Friday, with reference to Lawrence's treacly propaganda from last Monday night.

Goldberg's fuller statement may persuade us that she isn't the world's most heinous misogynist. It's true that she doesn't believe all accusers of President Clinton, but she says she does at least believe one.

She even says she's "haunted" by that accuser. We don't exactly believe that statement, and we think her column was sad.

At the New York Times, it has always been good politics to believe the worst about both Clintons. Along the way, the paper's stars also spent several years inventing claims about Candidate Gore.

This sent Candidate Bush to the White House. Of one belief you can feel certain—pseudoprogressive careerists like Goldberg and Hayes will never discuss such facts.

Triggered by Hayes, Goldberg joined the latest stampede, the one in which the children say we should thrash back through the accusations directed at President Clinton. Again, we don't exactly disagree, as we'll discuss in Part 4.

Goldberg joined the stampede last Tuesday morning. Five days later, Ross Douthat followed, having "skimmed" some yellowing news reports and "leafed" through several books.

In our view, the IQ level of Douthat's column was extremely low. In the main, he said that he's sadly come to think that President Clinton "deserved to be impeached."

Does Douthat know that he was impeached? He never quite made that clear. He principally focused on Monica Lewinsky. Along the way, he clanged several gongs, in passages such as these:
DOUTHAT (11/19/17): [W]ith Paula Jones and Monica Lewinsky, we know what happened: A president being sued for sexual harassment tried to buy off a mistress-turned-potential-witness with White House favors, and then committed perjury serious enough to merit disbarment. Which also brought forward a compelling allegation from Juanita Broaddrick that the president had raped her.

The longer I spent with these old stories, the more I came back to a question: If exploiting a willing intern is a serious enough abuse of power to warrant resignation, why is obstructing justice in a sexual harassment case not serious enough to warrant impeachment? Especially when the behavior is part of a longstanding pattern that also may extend to rape?


[The Democrats] had an opportunity, with Al Gore waiting in the wings, to show a predator the door and establish some moral common ground for a polarizing country.

And what they did instead—turning their party into an accessory to Clinton's appetites, shamelessly abandoning feminist principle, smearing victims and blithely ignoring his most credible accuser, all because Republicans funded the investigations and they're prudes and it's all just Sexual McCarthyism—feels in the cold clarity of hindsight like a great act of partisan deformation.
We'll make a sad admission. We've spent much more time than most other folk exploring these old episodes. Despite our painful experience, we're not entirely sure what Douthat means in various parts of those passages.

Is Lewinsky the "mistress-turned-potential-witness" Clinton tried to "buy off with White House favors?" If so, was she a "potential witness" in the Paula Jones matter?

We'll be honest. We don't understand what Douthat means—but then again, neither does anyone else who read his excited column. Meanwhile, was Clinton a "predator" in the case of Lewinsky? Did he really "exploit a willing intern" in their sporadic affair, which extended over several years?

It's thrilling to use such exciting language. Also, to describe Lewinsky as Clinton's "most credible accuser," if that's who Douthat is talking about in that somewhat fuzzy passage.

That said, has Lewinsky ever "accused" Clinton of anything? We refuse to waste our time parsing back through this exciting sexy-time story, but hasn't Lewinsky made it clear that she doesn't regard herself as a victim, and that she hasn't ever "accused" The Big He of anything?

Douthat's column was exciting for the peeping Tom crowd, but it was hard to parse. He seems to have been somewhat selective in the books he chose to "leaf" through last week, though it may well be that's he's never heard of some of the volumes he missed.

He also excised one whole element of these accusations—the extent to which this era's various accusations were intertwined with "the smear campaign against the Clintons" to which Goldberg refers.

Goldberg's aware of that crackpot campaign. In the column in which she proclaimed her selective belief, she was even prepared to describe it:
GOLDBERG: The Clinton years, in which epistemological warfare emerged as a key part of the Republican political arsenal, show us why we should be wary of allegations that bubble up from the right-wing press. At the time, the reactionary billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife was bankrolling the Arkansas Project, which David Brock, the former right-wing journalist who played a major role in it, described as a ''multimillion-dollar dirty tricks operation against the Clintons.'' Various figures in conservative media accused Bill Clinton of murder, drug-running and using state troopers as pimps. Brock alleges that right-wing figures funneled money to some of Clinton's accusers.

In this environment, it would have been absurd to take accusations of assault and harassment made against Clinton at face value.
That's all true. It's also true that the existence of that crackpot "right-wing conspiracy" doesn't mean that every accusation against Bill Clinton simply had to be false.

An accusation can be true even if it's being pushed by people waist-deep in The Crazy. As she continued, Goldberg—reasoning like a 10-year-old child—explained why she doesn't believe one accuser, but does believe another:
GOLDBERG (continuing directly): On Monday, Caitlin Flanagan, perhaps taking up Hayes's challenge, urged liberals to remember some of what Clinton is said to have done. ''Kathleen Willey said that she met him in the Oval Office for personal and professional advice and that he groped her, rubbed his erect penis on her, and pushed her hand to his crotch,'' Flanagan wrote, recalling the charges Willey first made in 1998. It sounds both familiar and plausible. But Willey also accused the Clintons of having her husband and then her cat killed. Must we believe that, too?


Of the Clinton accusers, the one who haunts me is Broaddrick.
The story she tells about Clinton recalls those we've heard about Weinstein. She claimed they had plans to meet in a hotel coffee shop, but at the last minute he asked to come up to her hotel room instead, where he raped her. Five witnesses said she confided in them about the assault right after it happened. It's true that she denied the rape in an affidavit to Paula Jones's lawyers, before changing her story when talking to federal investigators. But her explanation, that she didn't want to go public but couldn't lie to the F.B.I., makes sense. Put simply, I believe her.
Goldberg says she doesn't believe Kathleen Willey. She vastly under-reports the challenges to Willey's credibility, including the time that a blatantly false accusation by Willey almost got a journalist killed.

Goldberg skipped past much of that. But then, she's trying to assess an entire, crackpot decade in just 800 words.

She ends up saying that she rejects Willey's story because of the craziness concerning the alleged dead cat. Heroically, she proceeds to say that she does believe Broaddrick.

She even says she's "haunted" by Broaddrick. We aren't real sure we believe that.

Is Goldberg haunted by Broaddrick? When Norman Maclean was "haunted by rivers," he wrote an autobiographical novella about it (A River Runs Through It).

Has Goldberg been haunted by Broaddrick all these years? If so, where's the beef? Has Goldberg ever written about the person who has her haunted? Or have we possibly captured Goldberg in a bit of a pose?

People, we're just asking!

Down through the many long years, posing and faking have been endemic among our corporate pseudoliberal journalists. Is Goldberg posing and faking here?

We can't answer that question.

That said, is Goldberg really able to say whether Broaddrick's story is true? We'd have to say that she pretty much isn't. We can think of several "credible" novels in which Broaddrick's claim would either be knowingly false, or would represent an unfair assessment of an actual encounter.

How does Goldberg know what's true? We're inclined to suggest that she doesn't.

Is it possible that Broaddrick's story is accurate? Yes, it certainly is.

It's also possible that it isn't! With that point in mind, we'd also say that people older than ten years old know how to write sentences like these:
I'm inclined to believe Juanita.
On balance, I tend to believe Juanita.
I can't really say that I disbelieve Juanita.
I can't be sure of course.
Grown people, even including upper-end journalists, are willing to traffic in nuance. Under-skilled people like Douthat and Goldberg have produced death all over the world in the past twenty-five years.

Having said these things, we'll say it again! We don't exactly disagree with the highly explosive tweet from the morally upright Hayes.

He won't discuss the tweet on his show. On Friday, we'll limn it right here.

Friday: Lawrence's latest fine pose

Mika praises Charlie's tool!


But here's what the Post report says:
The Washington Post's report about Charlie Rose is a report for the ages.

We'll be perfectly honest. As of perhaps six months ago, we didn't know that anyone ever behaved like this. As it turns out, it now seems that everyone does!

We regard this morning's report as stunning. For today, we'll only mention what Mika Brzezinski has said.

This morning, Mika was ripping and snorting about the report in ways which were largely incoherent, as tends to be her practice. Eventually, though, at 6:29 AM Eastern, she said this:

"Yvette Vega, at CBS, thank you for your apology. You should be promoted for your honesty. You should not be fired."

You can see Mika's fuller remarks on this videotape.

As far as we know, Vega doesn't work at CBS, but that's beside the point. Our point concerns Vega's reported role in this appalling mess.

Mika thinks Vega deserves a promotion. She seems to think that Vega issues an honest apology in today's report.

We're not real big on punishment here; we also won't assess Vega's honesty. But based on that lengthy Post report, Vega played a leading role in Rose's years of craziness and exploitation.

If it were anyone but Mika, it would be stunning to see someone go on TV and praise Vega for her conduct. Our advice would be this:

Search on Vega's name as you read that Post report. Review the five separate places where her 16-year role in this lunacy is described. It seems to us that you're reading about Rose's top enabler/procurer/helpmate.

Below, you see the final passage in which Vega's role is described. We'll highlight the reference to Vegaat the end of this lunatic passage:
CARMON AND BRITTAIN (11/21/17): Kyle Godfrey-Ryan was in her early 20s and had taken time off from her college studies in the mid-2000s when a friend offered to introduce her to Charlie Rose. She was unfamiliar with his show but was soon hired to be his assistant.

From the beginning, there was a blurring of the boundaries between Rose's professional and private life, she said. On her first day on the job, Rose injured his foot. She tended to him as he recovered.

But soon, Godfrey-Ryan said, he began yelling at her, calling her stupid and incompetent and pathetic.

"He repeatedly attacked her in front of other people," recalled a former producer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "He once said that because she hadn't gotten a college degree she would never amount to anything better than his secretary."

After the bouts of rage, Godfrey-Ryan said, Rose would often be conciliatory.

"It would usually entail some version of him also touching me," she said. "A hand on the upper thigh. He'd give a hug but touch the side of the breast."

She said she ignored his actions. Then he began calling her as late as midnight and as early as 6 a.m.

"It would be wanting to know details of my sex life," she said. " 'Who's next to you? What do you do? Is he touching you?' And I was like, 'Okay, Charlie, I'll see you tomorrow.' I just acted like it wasn't happening."

She said other calls involved a "very specific, repetitive fantasy" of her disrobing at the Bellport home and swimming "back and forth in the pool in the moonlight" as he watched from his bedroom.

Her boyfriend at the time, now her husband, told The Post that he was often present for these calls but said he did not know what was being discussed. The content of the calls, however, was openly discussed in the office and even joked about, according to Godfrey-Ryan and the producer who worked there at the time.

Godfrey-Ryan also said Rose would repeatedly walk in front of her naked at one of his New York City residences. Her husband confirmed that she complained to him about it at the time.

She said she ignored the nudity. "He was getting more and more frustrated that I wouldn't engage," she said.

Godfrey-Ryan said she reported the touching and the calls to Vega, but nothing happened.

"She just made me feel like I was being a dramatic little girl," Godfrey-Ryan said.
She stopped reporting the behavior.
Who knows? It's possible that Godfrey-Ryan's assessment of Vega may be unfair in some way. But Vega's role in this madness is described that way throughout.

Her apology comes near the beginning of the report, which may explain why Mika read it. But it's all downhill from there.

Watching Mika this morning, you might have thought that Vega was the heroic whistle-blower here. In fact, Vega was outed by the Post report, like Rose, her long-time employer.

Vega does state an apology, but then again, so does Rose.

Mika seems to say that Vega is being honest because she's a woman. At one point, she seems to suggest that no one like Vega turned up in the reports about Harvey Weinstein.

In fact, Weinstein seemed to have a lot of female employees who served as his enablers and procurers, as seems to have been Vega's role. We'll take a wild guess:

Mika never quite got around to reading those reports about Weinstein. We wouldn't assume that she read today's report all the way to the end.

Only in the upper-end American "press corps" could someone actually go on TV and say that Vega deserves a promotion based on today's report! Needless to say, no one questioned what Mika said. Mika and Joe are in charge!

Rose's conduct seems to have been deranged, but so is our collection of pundits, with Mika perhaps the weirdest of all. This has been true for many years, producing death all over the world.

So far, no whistle has been blown about that. Dearest darlings, use your heads! As with Vega, so too here:

It simply isn't done!

PEEPING TOMS WITHOUT END, AMEN: Gennifer Flowers' "accusation!"


Part 2—Alter's vicious response:
Just a guess:

With this morning's report about Charlie Rose, the revival meeting-inflected chase after Bill Clinton is probably mostly over.

The children may blow with the breeze. In this morning's New York Times, Michelle Goldberg has already flipped about the need for Al Franken to resign. We'll guess that these idiots' latest return to the 1990s has also come to an end.

It's hard to keep up with the raging stampedes of a group which is so unfocused. That said, we might gain some insights from the recent cries about Bill Clinton, including the recent cri de coeur from the hapless Goldberg herself.

Yesterday, when we left off, Ross Douthat had caught up with some old friends from the 1990s. Almost inevitably, the New York Times' "excitable boy" had mentioned Gennifer Flowers first.

If we want to understand the current journalistic era, Gennifer Flower isn't a bad place to start. Let's get clear about the defining values of the nation's peeping Toms as of January 1992, when Flowers injected herself into a White House race.

At that time, Bill Clinton had long been regarded as the nation's most talented upcoming Democrat. For that reason, the RNC had been conducting some rather unreliable "opposition research" about him dating all the way back to 1988.

These events are described in The Hunting of the President, the 2000 book by Conason and Lyons which Douthat forgot to "skim" or "leaf" in his pseudo-review last week of the era in question.

At any rate, Clinton's entry into the 1992 race resulted in instant attacks. One such "attack" came from Flowers, who was paid $100,000 by the National Enquirer to tell her exciting tale.

At this point, we start to see the values of the Toms as of 1992. Once again, let's get clear on what Flowers wasn't saying:

She wasn't accusing Governor Clinton of sexual assault. She wasn't accusing Governor Clinton of sexual harassment.

She wasn't saying that Governor Clinton had dated her when she was 19 and he was 32. Flowers was born in January 1950. Clinton was only three years older—not even three and a half!

In short, Flowers wasn't accusing Clinton of the types of conduct being discussed with respect to the ludicrous, possibly criminal alleged conduct of people like Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore and now Charlie Rose. In fact, it isn't clear that she was "accusing" Clinton of anything at all.

She was saying something different. She was saying that she and Governor Clinton had conducted a torrid, twelve-year love affair—a love affair between consenting adults of roughly the same age.

We'll guess her statement wasn't true. But given the values of the time, it did set the peeping Toms off.

From Douthat's column, it isn't clear that he fully understands the difference between Flowers' "accusation" and some other accusations that have been made against Bill Clinton. In all honesty, it isn't clear that the excitable child understands much of anything about his old friends at all.

Douthat was only 12 years old when Flowers arrived on the scene. It isn't clear that he knows much about the era is question. But as excitable figures like Douthat and Goldberg start setting the nation's mental agenda, it's worth getting clear on a basic point:

When Flowers began attempting to take Candidate Clinton down, she was alleging an (extramarital) love affair, full and complete freaking stop.

At that time, that was enough to trigger our barrel of Toms. In 1987, they had eliminated the previous Democratic front-runner by hiding in bushes outside his house and catching him in the act of spending the night with a conventionally attractive woman who wasn't his actual wife.

They then eliminated Candidate Biden over a college plagiarism incident. After that, they began trying to eliminate Candidate Gore with questions about whether he'd smoked marijuana when he was 19 years old.

There were the values of these idiots at that point in time. Even now, it's important to understand who and what we're dealing with when the Douthats and the Goldbergs, along with the Thrushes and the Roses, tell us what we should care about, along with what we should think.

The extremely well-paid Gennifer Flowers alleged a love affair. At this point, we reach an extremely dark part of the era in question.

Over at Newsweek, Jonathan Alter didn't seem to know that he must "believe the accusers." He didn't even seem to know that he must "believe the women."

We've chatted with Alter a time or two. Long ago and far away, we lunched with him on one occasion.

Alter seems like a perfectly decent person to us. Surely, though, he ought to step forward at this time to explain the misogyny he so viciously demonstrated in the following way:

When Flowers launched her accusation, Alter didn't necessarily seem to believe what she'd thoughtfully said! It almost seemed that he was suggesting that some accusations, in this world, are perhaps maybe possibly false!

We can't tell you where the fellow got a weird idea like that. But he quickly presented a report in Newsweek—and no, we really aren't making this up—which said that Flowers, the accuser, had credibility problems!

Horrific, isn't it? Alter sounds like the kind of guy who might have waited for all the evidence in the Duke lacrosse case, then later at UVa! People like this need reeducation. Here's part of what he wrote:
ALTER (2/3/92): Gennifer Flowers also has credibility problems. Among them:


* Flowers claims she met Clinton at the Excelsior Hotel in 1979 or 1980. The hotel didn't open until late 1982.


* Flowers claims to have been part of an opening act for Roy Clark's band and to have joined the band's U.S. and European tours. But her own booking agent says she exaggerated her role.


* Flowers claims to have taken 50 hours of classes at the University of Arkansas. There is no record of her having attended the school.

* Flowers claims to have been Miss Teen Age America, 1967. She wasn't—that year, or any other.
Mistakenly, Flowers claimed that she'd been Miss Teen Age America. She'd claimed that she met "her Bill" at a hotel that didn't yet exist.

Anyone can make such minor understandable errors, but Alter was in need of reeducation. On the basis of these honest mistakes, he said that that Flowers had credibility problems—even seemed to suggest that she might be making false claims!

Last week, the excitable Douthat revisited a bunch of old friends, naming Flowers first. He forgot to mention what Alter wrote when Douthat had just turned 12. Because he apparently didn't skim, or even leaf, the Conason/Lyons book, he also didn't mention this gruesome excerpt:
CONASON/LYONS (page 25): Musicians and club owners who had worked with Flowers described her as manipulative and dishonest. Her resume falsely proclaimed her a graduate of a fashionable Dallas prep school she’d never attended. It also listed a University of Arkansas nursing degree she’d never earned and membership in a sorority that had never heard of her. Her agent told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that contrary to her claims, Flowers had never opened for comedian Rich Little. A brief gig on the Hee Haw television program had come to a bad end, the agent would later confirm, when Flowers simply vanished for a couple of weeks with a man she’d met in a Las Vegas casino—and then concocted a tale about having been kidnapped. She had never been Miss Teenage America. Even her “twin sister Genevieve” turned out to be purely a figment of Flowers’ imagination.
Nor did Douthat mention what his old friend said in her own 1995 book, Passion and Betrayal, from which she scored more cash. Thoughtfully, Douthat's friend recalled the first time she set eyes on Hillary Clinton, then Arkansas' first lady:
FLOWERS (1995): I was shocked. She looked like a big fat frump with her hair hanging down kind of curly and wavy. She had big, thick glasses; an ugly dress; and a big, fat butt.
Should any sane person rush to believe the statements made by such an "accuser?" Absent confirming evidence, we wouldn't suggest rushing in.

Douthat failed to mention any of this in Sunday's column—a column so clownish that, in a less ridiculous world, it would get a journalist fired, or at least shipped off to the countryside for years of reeducation. That said, you've never seen any of this in the pages of the New York Times, an enterprise which operates on the general level of the private Charlie Rose and his three million enablers, who stampede after Clinton/Gore/Clinton while kissing the ascots of people like Rose.

Did Bill Clinton, when he was governor, conduct extramarital relationships or affairs? We would assume he did. He seemed to say as much on 60 Minutes in January 1992, when he said he'd caused pain in his marriage, and that everyone knew what he was talking about.

("You know, I have acknowledged wrongdoing. I have acknowledged causing pain in my marriage...I think most Americans who are watching this tonight, they'll know what we're saying. They'll get it.")

Presumably, everyone did know what he and his wife were talking about. But just for the record, Gennifer Flowers wasn't accusing him of harassment or assault. She was accusing him, probably falsely, of a fully consensual love affair.

In those days, that was all the peeping Toms needed to stage their own crackpot affair.

In the face of all the excitement, Alter questioned Flowers' credibility! Why have you never seen any further reference to the points he mentioned about the remarkably coarse, error-riddled accuser who intruded on a White House election, attempting to take Clinton out?

Easy! As of 1992, your "press corps" was conducting its own love affair, a love affair with accusers! They blew right past the credibility problems of Flowers. They then blew past the credibility problems with Kathleen Willey, in remarkable ways we'll recall before the week is done.

Were other accusations against Bill Clinton true? It's very hard to know such things, especially when 1) the press is conducting a love affair and 2) the RNC is conducting a war.

Too funny, though! On Sunday, Douthat penned the dumbest statement in journalistic history:

"The story seems like it was probably mostly true."

That was his thrice-qualified assessment of "Troopergate." His next sentence may have been even dumber:

"I have less confidence about what was real in the miasma of Whitewater."

Whitewater was the murky assemblage of pseudo-scandals which gave its name to an era. Twenty-five years later, it remains a "miasma" to Douthat.

Just a guess! Because Whitewater didn't involve sex, it seems it may be largely probable that it didn't interest our young peeping Tom a whole lot. But go ahead! Enjoy a good laugh! He has less confidence about Whitewater than he does about Troopergate, concerning which he's so certain that he says it seems like it's probably mostly true!

It seems like it's probably mostly! This is the kind of brain disease which swirls through the conduct of Rose.

Tomorrow, we'll join Douthat as he revisits Monica Lewinsky. Friday, we'll look at Goldberg's work, in which she agrees that Clinton's a rapist, unless she has decided to change her mind by now.

They've jockeyed for spots on the Charlie Rose show. It's time for them all to go.

Tomorrow: The "predator" and the "willing intern"

How quickly should an accuser be believed?


Back to the Post's first report:
We're glad to see that Leigh Corfman went on the Today show this morning to describe her alleged encounters with Roy Moore in 1979, when she was 14.

Corfman seemed extremely sensible and sane. As a general matter, it's much better to be able to see a person who is making a claim against somebody else, although a person's demeanor isn't an infallible guide to the truth.

We're glad that Corfman did this. That said, let's ponder an important question: how quickly should someone be believed if she makes an accusation?

In the past few years, the gods have sent dramatic examples of a basic fact—sometimes, people make highly dramatic accusations which are flatly false.

That said:

No matter how many times this happens, many people seem inclined to believe the next accuser, and to do so instantly, full freaking stop. This phenomenon played out two Fridays ago, when the Washington Post published its initial report about Corfman's accusation.

Should Corfman's report have been believed with no further questions asked? Should other people have been assailed, that very day, for withholding instant belief?

Corfman seemed very sane today. That said, some accusers aren't. First at Duke, than at UVa, we've had dramatic examples of this basic fact. With apologies, how could anyone know, on that first day, that Corfman might not turn out to be the next such accuser?

We're inclined to think that Corfman isn't the next such accuser. But how was someone supposed to know that on the very first day, especially when she hadn't told her story in a forum where other people could evaluate her demeanor?

We can imagine two possible answers. We'll look at them tomorrow.

PEEPING TOMS WITHOUT END, AMEN: The Times' Ross Douthat visits old friends!


Part 1—A whole lot of skimming and leafing:
According to his column in yesterday's New York Times, Ross Douthat spent some time this past week catching up with old friends. But first, a bit of background information:

A tax bill may be passing through Congress. Ranking military figures are describing their concern about the possibility that Donald J. Trump could employ this nation's nuclear weapons in an impulsive way.

Charges swirl as an important Senate election draws near in Alabama. Vladimir Putin may own the sitting American president. Climate change is on its way to devouring the earth.

It's not like nothing is occuring in the world right now! But here's the way the New York Times' earnest young quasi-conservative decided to spend his time last week:
DOUTHAT (11/19/17): I spent this week reading about the lost world of the 1990s. I skimmed the Starr Report. I leafed through books by George Stephanopoulos and Joe Klein and Michael Isikoff. I dug into Troopergate and Whitewater and other first-term scandals. I reacquainted myself with Gennifer Flowers and Webb Hubbell, James Riady and Marc Rich.
For ourselves, we often have a hard time following Douthat's trains of thought. The earnest young fellow managed to emerge from four years at Harvard (class of 2002) with his moralistic Catholic values intact.

We're not saying there's anything "wrong" with those values, or that a person shouldn't hold them. We're just saying that, in Douthat's hands, these values often lead to chains of reasoning which we find hard to follow.

(According to the leading authority on his life, "As an adolescent, Douthat converted to Pentecostalism and then, with the rest of his family, to Catholicism." That's all fine with us, but these peregrinations seem to have led to abstruse chains of moral reasoning which often seem murky to us. Before matriculating at Harvard, he prepped at Hamden Hall.)

In fairness, there was nothing about yesterday's column which was hard to follow. Like everyone else in the upper-end pundit corps, Douthat spent his time last week catching up with old friends—with old friends from "the lost world of the 1990s," even from years before that.

Inevitably, the first name he mentioned was Gennifer Flowers! Truly, these people are mad.

Might we offer a discourse on method? Based on the paragraph we've posted, it sounds like Douthat performed a lot of "skimming" and "leafing" as he caught up with these old friends last week.

Soon, he was presenting the type of journalistic judgment such skimming and leafing will typically produce. We highlight one laughable statement:
DOUTHAT: The sexual misconduct was the heart of things, but everything connected to Clinton's priapism was bad...

Something like Troopergate, for instance, in which Arkansas state troopers claimed to have served as Clinton's panderers and been offered jobs to buy their silence, is often recalled as just a right-wing hit job. But if you read The Los Angeles Times's reporting on the allegations (which included phone records confirming the troopers' account of a mistress Clinton was seeing during his presidential transition) and Stephanopoulos's portrayal of Clinton's behavior in the White House when the story broke, the story seems like it was probably mostly true.

After his week of skimming and leafing, does our anti-priapist actually know if those troopers' various stories were true?

We've highlighted only one statement from that passage, the statement we think is most salient. According to Douthat, his perfervid week of skimming and leafing allowed him to make this assessment:

"The story seems like it was probably mostly true."

How's that for journalistic precision? In a hard-hitting, nine-word statement, three different qualifiers appear—three qualifiers, some thirty years after the (alleged) fact.

In fact, there were an array of conflicting claims from an array of troopers. Even as he ignores this fact, does Douthat claim that the troopers' "story" was true?

Well actually no, he doesn't! He is only able to say that the story seems to be true. Except he doesn't say that either!

Actually, he says the story seems to be mostly true—except he hasn't even reached that shaky assessment. According to Douthat, it actually seems like the story is probably mostly true. That means it may be mostly false! Indeed, does this worried young fellow actually know that "the story" is true at all?

The story seems like it was probably mostly true! Who on earth would spend a week constructing such claims—constructing such claims about events which no longer matter, assuming they ever did?

Citizens, don't even ask! That nine-word sentence is the fruit of Douthat's week of leafing and skimming—his week of leafing and skimming concerning events which are alleged to have happened starting in 1988, to cite the particular matter to which he refers in that passage.

We refer to Douthat's worried claim that Bill Clinton, when governor of Arkansas, had "a mistress" with whom he was still in contact in late 1992, in the weeks after being elected president. It seems to trouble this earnest young boy to think that such a thing could have happened. That said, we note the way he still prefers to lard this story with the air of mystery which has always excited the prurient and the deviant among us.

We say that for a reason. If Douthat had dropped his skimming and leafing—if instead he'd read a dozen pages of a well-known, relatively recent book—he could have considered an authoritative-sounding report about that particular matter. We refer to Carl Bernstein's 2007 book, A Woman In Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, which describes the alleged relationship in question 1) with the air of prurience stripped away, and 2) in appropriate detail, including the name of the woman in question.

We'll skim that part of Bernstein's book tomorrow. For today, we'll think about what Douthat has done, along with virtually everyone else in the clan of peeping Toms into which he has gained admittance.

Uh-oh! The alleged affair to which Douthat refers was an alleged affair between two consenting adults. Also, between two people of the same age.

No teenagers were involved. There was no issue of consent. And the woman said to be involved wasn't a public employee.

In short, all the worrisome factors which let these people rummage through underwear drawers are absent in this alleged matter. But here is Douthat, worrying hard about an alleged extramarital affair—an affair which Bernstein describes as a serious love affair.

Long ago and far away, this is the sort of thing the peeping Toms tried to use to get Bill Clinton eliminated. Five years before, in 1987, the peeping Toms had eliminated Gary Hart on this very same basis.

At that time, the peepers had literally hid in the bushes to catch Hart in the deeply unseemly act! They then began calling around to the college roommates of other candidates, asking if worrisome people like Candidate Gore had ever smoked marijuana when they were teenagers.

(Today, they pretend to worry about teenagers. Back then, they tried to exploit them!)

In the passage we've posted above, Douthat is worrying about an alleged consensual love affair which is said to have started in 1988. Thirty years later, he leafed and skimmed the Los Angeles Times, thrilled again, as all prurients are, by the deeply troubling conduct.

He spent a week doing this, thirty years later! What kinds of people engage in these tasks, are so steeped in prurience? We're sorry to tell you that these same people are sometimes so intellectually bankrupt that, thirty years later, they produce assessments like this:

"The story seems like it was probably mostly true."

Go ahead—laugh out loud! It's a hedge against tearing your hair, once you start accepting the truth about the beings to whom you're inseparably tied.

("Fastened to a dying animal!" We quote what Yeats once thoughtfully said about a related problem.)

The story seems like it was probably mostly true! Where the fark do these people come from? In what sense and to what extent are they actually "people" at all?

Tomorrow: Sailing toward the Byzantium of Dowd, Goldberg and Hayes