Tuesday, June 03, 2008

You have to ask?

Todd S Purdum is a former White House correspondent for the New York Times who covered the Clinton administration. He was in a position to see Bill Clinton close up and was in daily contact with other reporters who were similarly situated. The only people who were in a better position to observe the day to day operations of Bill Clinton were those who were actually inside his inner circle.

So how is it that people like myself who spent the entire Clinton era in far away North Carolina understand Bill Clinton far better than Mr. Purdum?

Todd Purdum writes this in the current issue of glossy ultra left-wing rag Vanity Fair:

Old friends and longtime aides are wringing their hands over Bill Clinton’s post–White House escapades, from the dubious (and secretive) business associations to the media blowups that have bruised his wife’s campaign, to the private-jetting around with a skirt-chasing, scandal-tinged posse. Some point to Clinton’s medical traumas; others blame sheer selfishness, and the absence of anyone who can say “no.” Exploring Clintonworld, the author asks if the former president will be consumed by his own worst self.

It was a wedding straight out of Sex and the City: a rehearsal dinner looking out over the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero, a garden ceremony and dancing reception in a grand château outside Paris, topped off by a private fireworks display. The groom was a thirtysomething American lawyer with friends in high places, the bride a dark-eyed designer with social sheen, and the guest list a mix of family and what Noël Coward once called Nescafé Society.

But the real cynosure of the occasion last August was the smiling, snowy-haired man who is the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral he attends, the 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton. He had come to the City of Light with the motley crew that constitutes some of the post-presidential rat pack to celebrate the marriage of Douglas Band, the man who for the last decade has been his personal aide, gatekeeper, enforcer, and—more recently—counselor in the multifarious business, philanthropic, and political dealings that keep Clinton restlessly circling the globe.

Also in attendance was Ron Burkle, the California supermarket billionaire and investor who is Clinton’s bachelor buddy, fund-raiser, and business partner. Burkle had come with an attractive blonde, described by a fellow guest as “not much older than 19, if she was that.”

Burkle’s usual means of transport is the custom-converted Boeing 757 that Clinton calls “Ron Air” and that Burkle’s own circle of young aides privately refer to as “Air Fuck One.” Clinton himself had arrived on the private plane of another California friend, the real-estate heir, Democratic donor, liberal activist, and sometime movie and music producer Steve Bing, whose colorful private life includes fathering a child out of wedlock with the actress Elizabeth Hurley and suing the billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian for invasion of privacy, alleging that private investigators for Kerkorian swiped Bing’s dental floss out of his trash in a successful effort to prove that Bing’s DNA matched that of a child delivered by Kerkorian’s ex-wife, the former tennis pro Lisa Bonder. (The suit was later settled out of court.)

[. . .]

But among the not-so-small cadre of Clinton friends and former aides, concern about the company the boss keeps is persistent, palpable, and pained. No former president of the United States has ever traveled with such a fast crowd, and most 61-year-old American men of Clinton’s generation don’t, either. “I just think those guys are radioactive,” one former aide to Clinton who is still in occasional affectionate touch with him told me recently, referring to Burkle and (to a lesser extent) Bing. “I stay far away from them.”

Another former aide, trusted by Clinton for his good judgment, said, “On the sort of money, women, all that stuff … I’m the bad guy. All this stuff is kept away from me. Whatever they’re doing, they definitely view me as somebody you cannot confide in.”

A longtime Clinton-watcher, who has had ties to the former president since his first campaign for governor of Arkansas, said of Clinton’s sometimes questionable associations, “I don’t know what to make of any of that, if it’s a voyeuristic experience, or if he’s participating in it.”

Yet another long-serving Clinton aide said simply, “If you figure it out, would you let me know?”

[. . .]

This winter, as Clinton moved with seeming abandon to stain his wife’s presidential campaign in the name of saving it, as disclosures about his dubious associates piled up, as his refusal to disclose the names of donors to his presidential library and foundation and his and his wife’s reluctance to release their income-tax returns created crippling and completely avoidable distractions for Hillary Clinton’s own long-suffering ambition, I found myself asking again and again, What’s the matter with him?

As I sought to answer that question for myself, in conversations with dozens of current and onetime Clinton aides, many of whom I have known all these years (Clinton himself declined to be interviewed), I realized just how much about the former president is not known, and not knowable, at the moment, mostly because of his unapologetic stonewalling. Virtually no one, except Ron Burkle, knows just what Clinton put into Burkle’s investment business, or just what he has done since to earn millions of dollars, with the prospect of reaping millions more. Most of the names of the donors who have contributed some $500 million to Clinton’s library and foundation over the past decade are not known, either. Virtually no one, except his doctors and family, knows the precise state of Clinton’s health. Virtually no one really knows what strategic role he has played in his wife’s campaign.

So what can be known, or fairly inferred, from the available record?

There is reason to believe that Clinton, who never made more than $35,000 a year as governor of Arkansas and left the White House about $12 million in debt, has had his head turned by his ability to enjoy his post-presidential status; that the world of rich friends, adoring fans, and borrowed jets in which he travels has skewed his judgment or, at a minimum, created uncomfortable appearances of impropriety. There is ample evidence that his eight-year absence from a political workplace that has changed radically in the interim has left him conspicuously rusty at the craft of which he was once a master. There are those friends who worry that Clinton has never been the same since his quadruple-bypass surgery, in 2004, and the unexpected follow-up operation six months later to remove accumulated scar tissue on his lung.

You can read the rest if you want to but I'll save you the trouble. What follows is 7 more pages of left-wing hand wringing in which Purdum casts about for some explanation for why Bill Clinton is acting like Bill Clinton.

Purdum whines out the question of why Bill Clinton would allow men like Ron Burkle and Steve Bing into his inner circle. However the real question that Purdum should be asking is why billionaires like Burkle and Bing are willing to tolerate someone like Clinton leaching off of them. The answer is simple and obvious.

Shit draws flies.

Mr. Purdum is surely aware that when Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas he was in the habit of doing things like taking one of the SUVs used by the state troopers who made up the Governor's security detail and cruising the nighttime streets of Little Rock looking for women to pick up. He is surely aware that at one point in one of Clinton's early statewide campaigns when Hillary couldn't be in Arkansas that she attached her father to the campaign to keep an eye on Bill because his adulteries were becoming so frequent and flagrant that his aids feared that the press wouldn't be able to look the other way for much longer.

Mr. Purdum was there covering the White House when Clinton turned the Lincoln Bedroom into a Motel 6. He was there during the era of the infamous White House Coffees when Clinton sold access to the White House and himself to a rogues gallery of international criminals.

Mr. Purdum was there when Clinton sold our nuclear secrets to Red China and when he greased the way for an American aerospace company which contributed to his campaign to help the Chinese fix their heavy launch booster so that now they can hit any point in the United States with one of those hydrogen bombs that Clinton sold them.

Mr. Purdum was there and he knows all this stuff and for him to piss and moan about what has suddenly gone wrong with Bill Clinton is nothing more than rank hypocrisy. This is simply the latest mainstream media coverup for their golden boy.

Bill Clinton has always attracted shady company and he has always reveled in it. The real question isn't why billionaire dissipates like Burkle and Bing are buzzing around Clinton it is rather how Clinton has managed to muster the discipline to avoid having his ring publicly kissed by the heads of the five families, at least so far.

Purdum is angry at Bill Clinton for failing to care enough to maintain the charade. But the joke is that the charade never fooled anyone. It certainly never fooled Mr. Purdum and his colleagues in the mainstream media who always walked around with bloody noses because the need to constantly keep their eyes averted from Bill's peccadilloes meant they were forever running into doors. The charade never fooled Republicans who mounted the rooftops and shouted themselves hoarse trying to warn the public of what they already knew. And it never fooled Democrats who daily twisted themselves into ever more intricate pretzel shapes making "everybody does it", "it's just sex", "it's his private life", "who cares about character anyway" arguments.

In the final analysis the illusion whose passing Mr. Purdum morns is nothing more than the elites' unspoken compact that they would all pretend together that no one else knew about Bill Clinton what everyone knew about Bill Clinton.