By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Baby Boomers Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich share a theory that fellatio does not constitute a sexual act which violates marriage vows. In a 1995 Vanity Fair profile of the speaker, one of Newt's former female playmates was quoted as saying that he demanded oral sex "because then he can say, 'I never slept with her.'"
Many Americans outside the reach of the racier tabloid dailies first learned of the president's similar views last Friday on CNN's Inside Politics, when news anchor Bernie Shaw introduced a report by warning that it "might not be suitable viewing for children." Now there is hardly a tube-watcher in the country who does not know that Clinton for years has claimed "Bible research" convinced him that blow jobs are not adultery. All this gives new meaning to the phrase "head of state."
Those of us who are civil libertarians abhor intrusions by any branch of government--including Kenneth Starr--into our sex lives. But there is a certain poetic justice in seeing the president who made Family Values the central theme of his re-election brought low by his own reckless philandering (just like his F.V. ad guru, toe-sucking triangulator Dick Morris). Clinton is, after all, the man who shredded the social safety net for unwed mothers while lecturing them about "responsibility"; who signed the gay-bashing Defense of Marriage Act and boasted about it in his campaign commercials; whose Defense Department continues to condone anti-gay witch hunts in the military; who opposes frank sex education and condoms in the schools; and the like.
Whether the Office of the Independent Counsel can make a legal case stick against Clinton is another question. The circumstantial evidence--phone records of his calls to Lewinsky, White House documentation of her after-hours visits, gifts exchanged, public hugs--is strong, although not conclusive. The tapes Linda Tripp made of her chats with Lewinsky were recorded in Maryland, where laws don't allow recording a conversation without the consent of both parties. Clinton's lawyers could challenge their admissibility in court; similarly, they could argue that the tapes Tripp made while wearing an FBI wire are out of bounds because they were recorded before Starr got his jurisdiction expanded to this matter.
Starr's people are reported to be conducting DNA tests for the president's semen on a dress seized from Lewinsky's apartment. But Clinton's lawyers could claim that, since Starr only knew about the dress from the illegally obtained Tripp tapes, it is the fruit of a tainted tree. And obtaining a sample of the president's DNA for comparison could spell a lengthy legal battle as Clinton could invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
If Lewinsky flips for Starr and testifies to her affair with the president, these delaying tactics would probably be moot. And Starr has a potent weapon to use in forcing such a flip: The "talking points" Lewinsky gave to Tripp to induce her to lie constitute subornation of perjury. Lewinsky's lawyer has made it clear he's not going to let his client wind up in a jail cell adjoining Susan McDougal's. It is inevitable that she will testify to the affair. That is why the anonymous White House leakers are beginning to paint a portrait of Lewinsky designed to undermine her credibility.
But if Lewinsky is the unstable, bubble-headed, manic-depressive "stalker" the White House is trying to make her out to be, why was she given a Pentagon job with a top security clearance that allowed her access to highly classified material and afforded her a dozen trips around the world with the secretary of defense?
This brings us to the administration's massive effort to find a job for Lewinsky. U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson and his chief of staff had a long lunch with Lewinsky to interview her for a $24,000 receptionist's job; the notion that this is standard practice for such a low-level employee is absurd.
But it is in the person of Vernon Jordan that the Lewinsky affair and Whitewater come together. Jordan is a corporate fixer who operates at the highest levels of monied power; he sits on the board of directors of RJR Nabisco, Bankers Trust, J.C. Penney, Xerox, American Express, Dow Jones, Corning, Union Carbide, Sara Lee, and Revlon. When Webb Hubbell, the man who knows Bill and Hillary's Whitewater secrets, was ousted from the Justice Department, Jordan called Revlon chairman Ron Perelman, a big campaign contributor to Clinton.
The perfume magnate agreed to put Hubbell on the payroll at $25,000 quarterly for "public relations" work, an odd assignment for a man under indictment. Revlon paid Hubbell $63,000 before he pleaded guilty to theft and fraud and went to jail. Thanks to Jordan and other Clinton cronies, Hubbell made more under indictment than he ever had as a lawyer.
Revlon has already admitted that it offered Lewinsky a cushy public-relations job, once again at Jordan's behest. Jordan says he acted as a personal favor to Betty Currie, the president's oh-so-private secretary; but as former Clinton spin doctor David Gergen remarked last week, "When Jordan gets a call from Betty Currie, he knows she's talking for the president." It was also Jordan who sent Lewinsky to the lawyer--a member of his own firm--who would prepare her affidavit in the Paula Jones case.