Memo To: Frank Rich, NYTimes columnist
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Scandals Sans Bimbos
Your Saturday column complains that nobody is interested in scandals that don't involve sex. You point out that both Rep. Bob Barr, the Georgia Republican who was first in line to urge impeachment of the President, and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, are involved in non-sex scandals that the news media is yawning about. Both have addressed a group called "the Council of Conservative Citizens," which is a "white-supremacist, immigrant-bashing organization that even David Keene, head of the American Conservative Union, has labeled racist" You say Lott and Barr "have been tarred by scandals that only yesterday would have caused a major public and media uproar." You further say "When they were outed for their involvement with this group, both politicians dutifully repudiated its views and then instigated cover-ups to try to camouflage the extent of their actual relationships with it." You also cite Rep. Dan Burton as being tarred by a scandal involving raising campaign money from his office telephone.
Frank, my wife Patricia reads the Times from first page to last, including sports and business, but after six months of trying, she said she would no longer read your column because it is raw blather. She says you were okay as a drama critic, but then you actually had to watch plays that you had seen before you wrote about them. This was a form of reporting. Your column, by contrast, is just mindless opinion, unleavened by basic reporting or minimal reflection, she says. I always read your column, though, because it gives me a sense of the thinking of your kind of dying breed, which continues to maintain a foothold on Manhattan Island.
You know what Patricia means, Frank, is that any kind of a reporter would make some effort to find out if Bob Barr or Trent Lott are actual "bigots," which is the word you associate with them based on what your read somewhere about the group to whom they spoke. (Lott in 1992.) I know you automatically assume all Mississippi white guys are racist, especially if they are Republicans, so Lott must have some specially tailored white sheets in his closet somewhere. Right? He gets more than 40% of the black vote, though, which must mean the bigotry standard is much higher in Mississippi than it is in the Rich household. (To tell you the truth, Frank, I'm sure I qualify as a bigot in your book because I have defended Louis Farrakhan against charges of racism and bigotry.)
The thing about sex, Frank, is that your intellectual buddies started this whole smear. And you set the standard VERY LOW! It was the feminist ladies at the National Organization of Women who got hot under the collar when Anita Hill told the United States Senate that Judge Clarence Thomas of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals once talked dirty to her when she worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (He said the words "pubic hair," she said.) Do you remember, Frank, that your friends went absolutely bananas? They practically threatened to burn down Our Nation's Capital in order to prevent Justice Thomas from taking his seat on the Supreme Court — and you were there cheering for them, weren't you?
Well, now, your fellow columnist at the Times, Maureen Dowd, who was in the media lynch mob that tried to string up Clarence Thomas, has become totally disgusted with her old feminist friends. Did Bill Clinton say "pubic hair" to Gennifer Flowers, to Paula Jones, to Monica Lewinsky, to Katherine Willey, or any of hundreds of young women — of whom he seems to have boasted to Monica — that he cornered in his offices or hotel rooms, while Governor of Arkansas or President of the USA? The girls to whom you refer as "bimbos." Hey, Frank, he did a lot more than that, didn't he? Did you hear about his cigar? Have you recently done a hypocrisy check with Eleanor Smeal, Patricia Ireland, Gloria Steinham, Betty Freidan? To accommodate the President, they seem to have set the Sexual Harassment Standard so high that Hannibal Lecter could not reach it if he jumped.
What goes around, comes around, Mr. Rich. William Jefferson Clinton is in deep doo-doo because he has devoted a significant amount of his time in political office abusing it in this manner. And even then, he would be okay with me if he could persuade the Senate that he did not lie under oath to a federal grand jury — which even The New York Times says he did. I do set the impeachment bar very high, but you clear it with ease if you commit felonious perjury — whatever political party you belong to. One Size, One Standard, Fits All.