All Kiss and No Tell

WHAT DO JONBENET Ramsey, Paula Jones, and the first Mrs. Newt Gingrich have in common? Each in her own way symbolizes the hypocrisy of this sexually obsessed society's cant about family values.

Little JonBenet came from a family that on the surface seemed to epitomize everything that the official discourse decrees to be desirable for raising a child: two parents, plenty of money, a lavish home, a "good neighborhood." But the endlessly replayed videotapes of the tiny pageant-queen reveal a child forced to behave like an adult sex symbol. The little girl was, according to press reports, obliged to take lessons in dancing, singing, poise, presentation, and makeup from the age of 3 by her mother, a frustrated ex-beauty queen. With her painted face, expensively teased hair, backless dresses, and grotesque vamping--doing the bump-and-grind like some Vegas showgirl--JonBenet smiled from the mouth and not the eyes, as models and actresses are taught to do to prevent wrinkles, but the eyes seemed dead already. Robbed of normal childhood by her parents, turned into a poster child for pedophiles--some of the published pics could well get you arrested for child porn if you placed them on the Internet--JonBenet was tortured long before the mad strangler got hold of her. At the very least, her parents should be unindicted co-conspirators in her death.

Now let's look more specifically at the crowd that gave us the gay-bashing Defense of Marriage Act. Newt, of course, dumped the first Mrs. G., presenting her with divorce papers while she was in a hospital bed with cancer. Dick Morris triangulated Bill Clinton's family values speeches and scripted the attacks on single welfare moms that helped purge them from the welfare rolls while fathering an out-of-wedlock child, and his cavorting and shrimping with hookers took place in a hotel de luxe that was only a stone's throw from the White House.

The extramarital sex lives of Clinton and the rest of the political class would be a matter of deep unconcern were it not for their sermonizing. In the case of Clinton, there is the additional problem that he used the power of his office to nourish his crotch. What raised the Gennifer Flowers case to the level of public policy was her placement on the state payroll--where she took a job away from a black woman with infinitely superior qualifications.

Then there is Paula Jones, whose case will be heard this week by the Supreme Court. Clinton used state troopers to fetch her so that he could drop his drawers and wave his willy in a demand for oral sex. And Jones herself was a state employee at the time.

There was a great deal of class bias against Paula Jones by the establishment media and liberals in denial about the Clinton scandals when Jones first aired her charges. Most followed the lead of Newsweek's echt-WASP, D.C. bureau chief Evan Thomas, who at the time flayed Jones as "some sleazy woman with big hair coming out of the trailer park." Now Newsweek has run a cover story on Jones that is remarkably sympathetic to her case--a story written by the same Evan Thomas.

The recent trend toward media revisionism in the Paula Jones case was sparked by an article in the October American Lawyer by Stuart Taylor, the magazine's senior correspondent. Taylor assembled contemporaneous testimony from six witnesses who corroborated Jones's telling of the incident long before Clinton became president, and his article caused second thoughts among those who had previously sneered at Jones's charges because he was one of the journalistic establishment's own: a former New York Times reporter and a regular commentator on PBS's Jim Lehrer Newshour.

It says a lot about the inside-the-Beltway press corps that they swallowed the White House's attempts to smear Jones as a tramp the first time around. Take our two premier national dailies. At the Washington Post, star investigative reporter Michael Isikoff quit when his editors wouldn't print his findings on the Jones case (now at Newsweek, he did the reporting on the new story penned by Evan Thomas). And this past Sunday's New York Times carried a story on the case by Washington bureau chief R.W. Apple that cited a witness who corroborated Jones's story to the Times in 1994 but whose comments were "previously unpublished." In other words, the Times sat on this relevant information for two years.

Jules Feiffer has written that "sex is still America's dirty little secret," and the difference between public preachings and private conduct proves it. Paula Jones was the victim of an abuse of power. Presidents are not kings, and she deserves her day in court.

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