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Sunday, November 1, 1998

Drop, Drop, Drip, Drip
Eavesdropping, Pants Dropping,
Dresses Dripping and a Bunch of Drips

by Clinton Fein

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And what a spectacle it was. The great showdown came and went with as much dignity as a nun doing cartwheels without her panties. It all began when Congress saw fit to bless the nation by bestowing upon us the most frightening privacy violation in the nation's history, with the release of the illegally taped telephone conversations between Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky. Ken Starr would later refer to this sort of "common" practice eavesdropping - common being a theme he used to describe his tactics often in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee that followed the day after the release of the audiotapes - as "consensual monitoring". Only consensual in this context means that only the person doing the eavesdropping needs to consent. Kind of like using the phrase consensual population control for committing murder.

The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o'clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days

In any event, the Linda Monica gabfest with a touch of Lucianne Goldberg reminded us that despite a healthy dose of denial and a philandering drip for a husband, Hillary Clinton's right wing conspiracy theory was not that far off the mark. Except that good conspirators don't get nailed by the very mechanisms they are using to conspire with in the first place. This is no conspiracy. It's an outright setup, as subtle as Susan Carpenter McMillan's ousting of Gloria Allred as queen of the talk show circuit. The release of the tapes was nothing short of a solid gold jackpot for America's festering media machine who swallowed it all up a lot better than Monica ever did. As MSNBC's Don Imus aptly coined it, "MSNBC's Gulf War". Talking heads attempting to analyze nuance, tone and context in a rehash that only they watched, commenting endlessly on their own interpretations, and giving Laura Ingraham something better to do than interview Monica's hairdresser.

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That time resumes,
One thinks of all the hands
That are raising dingy shades
In a thousand furnished rooms.

And then there was the Ken Starr hearing. The one no one cared about anymore, except for the talking heads and the brainless talkers. The predictable questions by the predictable players yielding the predictable answers with the predictable reactions. The burnt-out ends of smoky days, oh how we wish! From the second the judicious (gushing seems more fitting) Henry Hyde shuffled into the chamber revealing where Jim Henson's inspiration for the evil Skeksies came from, just a few of us were reminded that his own "youthful indiscretions" were more than we ever wanted to or needed to know. Thanks, of course, to the even-more-pathetically-obsessed-than-Ken-Starr, Salon Magazine. The things we do for lust, the things we do for content.

You tossed a blanket from the bed,
You lay upon your back, and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted

If anyone ever had an iota of doubt about the partisanship of Ken Starr, all they needed to do was watch the gushing Republicans, still bruised from their pathetic election results that flushed away Newt, wax syrup with Starr - provided they were able to withstand the diabetic coma it induced. Or the smug, holier-than-thou-all-forgiving, quick-forgetting Democrats with their two-faced bashing of the Prosecutor they gave Bob Packwood's diaries to read. By the time President Clinton's attorney David Kendall took on the Prosecutor with the lofty constitutional principles, we were so starved for excitement that even Al Gore would have rocked the house. For a brief moment in time, Starr got flustered, annoyed and grumpy. For a brief moment in time, America got even.

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A few interesting pickings emerged from this marathon alternative to Rohypnol. For one thing, the President and the Prosecutor are more similar than we ever could have imagined. While the President doesn't recall anything, the Prosecutor doesn't "recall his recollection". While they both believe very strongly in the constitution, the President feels justified in violating it because everyone lies about sex, whereas the Prosecutor feels justified in violating it because it's common practice for prosecutors to illegally deny counsel or leak grand jury testimony. And while the President cites executive privilege (and any other privileges he can come up with), the Prosecutor prefers pending litigation as an excuse for his unwillingness to answer questions.

Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

And so what are we left with after all of this? After a four year, forty million dollar witchhunt, a nearly twelve month bombardment of media speculation, innuendo, misinformation, horrific punditry, a thriving economy and a President with a small dick, a huge libido and the smartest wife on the planet? Nothing, except more of the same. After all we've suffered, Paula settled without an apology, Susan McDougal is free, Webster Hubble is indicted yet again, Filegate - dead, Travelgate - dead, Whitewater - dead. Monica got the book deal after all, Linda didn't - Lucianne got her semi-literate son a column ala Matt Drudge. We got Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer, CNN, MSNBC, John Gibson, Bay Buchannan, Greta van Susteren (still), Tom Brokaw, Sam Donaldson. Impeachment, censure, reprimand, divorce! Drop, drop, drip, drip, drop, drop, drip, drip...the Chinese sure knew what they were doing when they invented this torture.


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