The Importance of Sidney Blumenthal
Jude Wanniski
January 25, 1999

 

Memo To: Rep. Lindsey Graham
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Blumenthal Deposition

At this point in the trial, all 100 Senators believe he is guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice, but most of the Democrats are taking the way out you left open to them that reasonable people still can justify in their own minds an acquittal. Sen. Robert Byrd [D-WV] perhaps has decided to do what he is doing out of disgust with his fellow Democrats who are trampling on the Constitution and their oaths. It is assumed that when it comes to a vote up or down that he will vote acquittal, but I think at that point he would vote to convict, and that a majority of Democrats will join him. It is Sidney Blumenthal who will do it, if you can get him into the well of the Senate and handle his cross examination.

Remember how Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA] hit the roof when you specified that the women on the committee should understand the nature of the President Clinton's action? That's the raw nerve that is the key to unlocking public ho-hum about the President's behavior. Your audience should be Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] when you do Blumenthal as she is the most likely to convert among the distaff Democrats. You only need one of them, and Sen. Barbara Boxer [D-CA] of course is enslaved to her position and the President. Feinstein thus far is resisting the idea that what the President did is impeachable because she sees it as a victimless crime. If what the President did was to protect himself from embarrassment, and there was no damage to anyone, they are comfortable in justifying his behavior, because he is a member of their family. If a Republican had done what he did, the Democrats would be clamoring for conviction, because Republicans are in the other family across the street. The Mommy Party. Republicans would also be clamoring for conviction, because they are less concerned with victims than they are with the rule of law abstract standards of behavior. This is why Republicans were so quick to jump on Nixon in 1973-74, as soon as they saw he was becoming an embarrassment to their family! The Daddy Party.

In the case before the Senate, Paula Jones cannot be considered a victim because she was financed by right-wing Republicans, and because Clinton really did not do anything to damage her did not grope her, for example, and at the end of the day she got $850,000 out of it. That's enough for her! And Monica Lewinsky, well Lewinsky consented to sex, and consensual sex always is justified because there is no victim. Lewinsky had a good time, didn't she? And she was 21, old enough to vote.

Liberals are troubled by what you have developed to date about Clinton trashing Lewinsky in his conversation with Blumenthal, but they still insist that we can't tell for sure if Clinton would have used the "stalker" excuse to defend himself if the blue dress had not messed him up. Your case is hypothetical. And Charles RufF thus far has been successful in keeping it hypothetical, insisting that there was no "coordinated effort" to trash Lewinsky, to "malign her." When Rep. Asa Hutchison [R-AR] expressed disbelief that Ruff could make such a statement, he read from an AP dispatch about how Ann Lewis and the White House press secretary both announced at the time that there was no such conspiracy to say anything bad about Lewinsky. I believed them at the time, thinking it was James Carville doing it. Ruff did not wish your team to point out that it was Clinton who was already trashing Lewinsky! (I still wonder why Hutchison was doing the answer when it was your initiative, but perhaps in the long run it was best that he did.)

The one thing you can be sure of with Blumenthal is that he will not lie under oath. He is one of the best wordsmiths I've ever known, so you must bear in mind that he is extremely clever with words and will not give you one scrap of assistance if you do not ask the right questions in the right way.

I think you should ask him how the conversation happened to occur, where it took place, what time of day, whether it was a regularly scheduled meeting, or if the President summoned him or if he asked for a meeting.

The guts of the deposition will come in developing any kind of inference that the President meant Blumenthal to leave his office with the stalker story in order to have him disseminate it. Of course he did, because Blumenthal was his most loyal counselor on political communications. Sidney was one of the best political writers of his generation, an indefatigable reporter who did not resist moving where the facts would take him. His profile of Bob Dole for the WashPost "Style" section in the 1988 campaign is still the best ever on Dole. I met him in 1980 when he came to my home and spent 3 1/2 hours filling his tape recorder with material for a Boston Globe magazine piece on Reagan's brain trust. That's when we became friends, in a way mutual political admirers although he has refused to talk to me since I criticized his work in the New Yorker in 1993 for being too fawning on the Clintons.

Blumenthal certainly was the source of the stalker story, but it is important that you get him to say that the President did NOT tell him to keep that between them. Blumenthal has to recall that the President told him what Blumenthal later told the grand jury with no restrictions on how he should use it. If the President told him to "Keep this between us, Sid," and Blumenthal did not, then he was betraying his word to the President. So you can be sure that did not happen. Blumenthal had to come away from the meeting knowing the President wanted him to broadcast it. You can ask him about each of the people who wrote stories about the stalker, including the AP dispatch, and if he personally knew them, and if he called them or they called him for reaction to the Matt Drudge story.

The key point cannot be made strongly enough that the President insisted to Blumenthal that Monica Lewinsky threatened him and THAT HE RESISTED, which is why Lewinsky now could be expected to tell false stories about him. Liberal journalists tell me that of course it is true that Lewinsky came on to him, she batted eyes and flashed her thongs. That's true enough, but the President's evil act was in broadcasting the news that after he had his way with her over those many months, he would cast her as the sinister sex predator, the blackmailer, in those moments. It would be nice to know what Lewinsky thought when she heard about the Blumenthal testimony, as she surely believed it was coming from Carville. She now must be aware that Clinton had set in motion, as he did, the story that she threatened him with charges of sexual harassment unless he had sex with her. This story disappeared from the public prints when the story of the blue dress surfaced.

The reason Rep. Waters went berserk when you put this story on her is that she does not want to live with her defense of a President who would victimize a young woman in this fashion. She knows for a man to do this to a woman of any age is ugly enough, but for an older married man to do it to a young woman who is in a subordinate position to him, and who he has had sex with him many times, is evil. On Sunday, Sen. Feinstein told Tony Snow on "FoxNewsSunday" that there is no sexual harassment under these conditions because it was all consensual, thus no damage to the nation.

Sen. Feinstein has to be made to face that evil squarely and then say there is no damage to the "nation" (which means our society of people, not the state). Nobody has done that to her yet. It has to be done before she votes on whether to convict or acquit. My guess is that if she does understand what this is about, she will vote to convict, as will most of the Democrats.