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Tailgate: The story has legs

Posted By Geoff Metcalf On 03/16/1998 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

When I wrote my first piece regarding Tailgate/Zippergate/Monicagate in early January, some of my ABC colleagues asked, “Are you nuts?” Two days later, it was the story. Even the mainstream was on it like white on rice. From the very beginning I have maintained that it isn’t the lurid sex elements of the story, but the obstruction of justice, the perjury and suborning perjury, and (perhaps most significant) the abuse of power under the color of authority. Executive privilege? Puleeeeez!

One fact which is no longer arguable, despite the cries of Bob Bennett and the beleaguered Mike McCurry … this story has legs.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes, “The character question is back like an avenging angle. It haunted Bill Clinton twice in his election campaigns, and twice he escaped … because the objective was to elect a president, not a saint. BUT there was a secret agreement behind this compromise: His old sins would be forgotten IF he remained “clean” in the White House. In the eyes of many Americans, this agreement has been broken. … Now the point has been reached where even Clinton’s supporters are asking whether he hasn’t used his credit.”

The London Independent writes, “Everyone knew that when they elected Clinton, they were not getting Jimmy Carter. Here was a man with a sexual past and a real and vote-wining presence…The idea that such a man has to prey on work-experience girls and the allegations of an affair with Monica Lewinsky may diminish him. Whether it calls into question his ability to lead is highly debatable.” Unless, one were to observe the comedy of Clinton’s mishandling of the recent Iraq brouhaha.

Even the liberal New Delhi Indian Express wrote, “…the inquisition has already started…” Paris’ Le Monde noted that “What makes it serious is that not only did his morals take a vacation, but he may have asked her to lie about it under oath. … If there’s one thing you can’t joke about in the U.S., especially if you’re the president, it’s not so much the ethics of love as depositions. The problem is not sexual friskiness, but perjury.

Munich’s centrist Suddeutsche Zeitung bounces from criticism to reality. “The aims are as apparent as the goals of all previous attacks on Clinton. BUT if there is something to it, it could mean his political demise.

Then there is the liberal Toronto Star that satirically observes, “There is some redemptive value in this lurid business. It is that American television journalism has at last been given a story well within its intellectual resources and editorial competence.” (Meaowww and Ouch!).

There is an emerging pattern, which is not partisan or mean-spirited sniping. The next shoe is about to fall. As we learn more about how Democratic Party contributor Nathan Landau tried to influence Kathleen Willey’s testimony, some will find it ‘curious’ that the last weekend of Vince Foster’s life was spent at Landau’s home.

There is much to be said about this, and this brief message from Hugh Sprunt discusses this issue. According to Sprunt, “From what I have heard re: Willey lately, she has indicated that Mr. Landau chartered a plane and had her flown to his home on the eastern shore of Maryland and made an effort to get her to keep quiet (or some such) re what transpired between her and WJC in the oval office (the subject of her recent depo).

“The estate in question is the one which Foster and his wife visited the weekend before his death. There is some question whether this was an impromptu encounter or not. Foster met with Hubbell and Landau son-in-law Michael Cardozo (and perhaps others — others whose names are not in the record) there (Michael Cardozo had held Foster’s exact position — White House Deputy Counsel — in the Carter administration).

“I think it is fair to wonder whether,” Sprunt opines, ” like Vernon Jordan, Mr. Landau (and Michael Cardozo) have the status of high-level “fixers” of one kind or another for the Administration, especially given the recent efforts re: Ms. Willey, she alleges Mr. Landau made to get her to stay quiet about what happened to her in the oval office with the President.

Sprunt “continues to believe that the official account of what went on that weekend with Foster at Landau’s home on the eastern shore of Maryland is, if not untrue, then vastly incomplete.”

Can even Mike Nichols and Elaine May sanitize the next screenplay?


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