Krugman would no doubt argue that the true scandal of the Bush administration was that “Mr. Bush has no empathy for people less fortunate than himself”—actually, he did write that.10 Although Bush had nothing to do with it, many people did lose their homes and life's savings in dirty deals. One company offered homes for “sale,” the purchase price to be paid in installments. But if a purchaser defaulted on a single monthly payment, there would be no foreclosure proceeding or short sale: The purchaser would automatically lose everything he had invested in the property—the house, the equity, and all prior payments. The small print of the contract said that if a monthly payment was not made within thirty days, all prior “payments made by the purchaser shall be considered as rent for the use of the premises”—not a mortgage payment, not a down payment on a house.
This is what happened to some of the people who fell behind on their payments:
Clyde Soapes was a grain-elevator operator from Texas who heard about the lots in early 1980 and jumped at the chance to invest. He put $3,000 down and began making payments of $244.69 per month. He made thirty-five payments in all—totaling $11,564.15, just short of the $14,000 price for the lot. Then he suddenly fell ill with diabetes and missed a payment, then two. The [corporation] informed him that he had lost the land and all of his money. There was no court proceeding or compensation. Months later they resold his property to a couple from Nevada for $16,500. After they too missed a payment, the [corporation] resold it yet again.
Soapes and the couple from Nevada were not alone. More than half of the people who bought lots [in the development]—teachers, farmers, laborers, and retirees—made payments, missed one or two, and then lost their land without getting a dime of their equity back. According to records, at least sixteen different buyers paid more than $50,000 and never received a property deed.11
Who were these unscrupulous businessmen? Jack Abramoff? No, Abramoff went to prison for scamming rich Indian tribes. Vietnam ace and former Republican congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham? No, he sits in prison for taking bribes from well-heeled defense contractors. Indeed, when has a Republican ever been accused of ripping off the less fortunate?
The business plan described above was, of course, the Clintons’ Whitewater Development Corporation. And that was the legal part. Although many states made such contracts illegal on the sensible grounds that it involves scamming the poor and gullible, Arkansas was not among them. I'm sure the technical legality of Whitewater provided great consolation to all the people who lost their homes when Hillary Clinton enforced the small print.
The Clintons always loudly boasted that they didn't put any money into Whitewater, as if that fact proved they had clean hands. But Hillary Clinton created the Whitewater Development Corporation, wrote the fine print, and ran it out of the Rose Law Firm, with purchasers’ checks sent to: Whitewater Corporation, c/o Hillary Clinton at the Rose Law Firm. As Peter Schweizer says, “Hillary herself sold a home to Hillman Logan, who went bankrupt and then died. She took possession of the home and resold it to another buyer for $20,000. No one was compensated (and she didn't report the sale on her tax return).”12 The Clintons’ involvement with Whitewater continued right up until the 1992 election.
Forget the multiple felony convictions growing out of Krugman's “pseudoscandal.” Would even the legal aspects of Whitewater constitute a scandal if George Bush had done it? How about Mitt Romney or Cindy McCain? But for Paul Krugman, liberal troubadour of the poor, a barely legal scheme to rip off the least fortunate Americans—which also happened to yield a dozen felony convictions, taking down the sitting governor of Arkansas—is a “fake scandal.”
“Troopergate” led to the Paula Jones lawsuit, which in turn led to the Monica Lewinsky scandal when Jones's attorneys subpoenaed Lewinsky. Unable to avoid answering Jones's charges in court, Clinton eventually was forced to pay her $800,000 to settle the case. What Krugman called a “pseudoscandal” created many new legal rulings, including the Supreme Court's august decision holding that a sitting president can be sued for flashing a female employee when he was a governor.
The “pseudoscandal” of Travelgate consisted of the Clintons’ using the full resources of the federal government in an attempt to destroy career employees of the White House, in order to turn over operation of the White House travel office to a Clinton contributor out of Hollywood. To make the travel office firings look like something other than rank cronyism, the Clinton White House publicly accused the fired employees of criminal acts and ordered the FBI and IRS to investigate. Unfortunately for the Clintons, the travel office employees were innocent of any wrongdoing.
Travel Office Director Billy Dale was criminally investigated by the FBI for two years, but the jury took less than two hours to acquit him of the embezzlement and conversion charges. The end result of the IRS investigation was that the IRS owed the head of the travel office's partner airline about $5,000.
Admittedly, a president's misuse of the IRS and the FBI to harass American citizens whose jobs he wants for Hollywood friends may not constitute a “scandal” on the order of cutting the capital gains tax in Paul Krugman's book. But for most people, that's a scandal.
Filegate was the discovery that the Clinton White House had collected more than 900 secret FBI files on individual American citizens, including hundreds and hundreds of files of Republicans who had worked in the Reagan and Bush administrations. Luckily for Clinton, he was only caught perusing classified FBI files of his enemies and not Muslim terrorists. Who knows what the ACLU would have done had the White House been caught with files on Mohammed Atta or Khalid Sheikh Mohammed! Even the Clinton administration gave up trying to defend its possession of the files, eventually simply denying any knowledge of who hired the White House employee who was pawing through them—former bar bouncer Craig Livingstone.
If that's a pseudoscandal, someone owes Nixon aide Charles Col-son three years of his life back. The New York Times article on Charles Colson's guilty plea for possessing a single FBI file in the Nixon White House was languorously reported under a headline spanning several columns on the front page:
COLSON PLEADS GUILTY TO CHARGE IN ELLSBERG CASE
AND IS EXPECTED TO AID JAWORSKI AND RODINO PANEL
MOVE IS SURPRISE
Watergate Prosecutor to Seek Dismissal of Other Counts13
When Clinton White House employee Livingstone was caught with 900 confidential FBI files the New York Times headline was rather more low-key: “White House Announces Leave for Official Who Collected Files.”14 This would be like an article on American Airlines Flight 11 crashing into the Pentagon headlined: “California-Bound Plane Fails to Reach Destination.”
When Senator Bob Dole merely mentioned the White House's collection of 900 confidential FBI files, NBC anchor Brian Williams virtually accused him of committing a hate crime: “The politics of Campaign ’96 are getting very ugly, very early. Today Bob Dole accused the White House of using the FBI to wage war against its political enemies, and if that sounds like another political scandal, that's the point.”15 Williams must be part of the “right-wing noise machine” that overreacted to the “pseudoscandal” of Filegate.
I gather that by “Christmas-card-gate,” Krugman is referring to a sleazy excuse the Clinton administration used for its violation of the campaign finance laws—heretofore considered by the Times to be the most sacred laws of the republic. It appears to be the only scandal involving Christmas cards. When Clinton was caught doling out Lincoln bedroom sleepovers, White House coffees, and dinners to big campaign contributors based on lists of political donors on file at the Democratic National Committee,16 the Clinton White House denied that the database was being used for campaign purposes, explaining that it was the president's Christmas card list. It was an odd Christmas card list, inasmuch as it included notations recording the amount each donor had contributed.
In any event, the Christmas cards weren't part of the accusation, they were the Clintonian justification fo
As for Krugman's final accusation that “there were false claims that Clinton staff members trashed the White House on their way out,” those claims were not false. Apparently, like the Willie Horton ad, we're going to have to keep citing the facts on this incident until liberals stop lying about it. Although there was never any formal complaint from the Bush White House, the story broke in the first days of the Bush administration, when anonymous Republican White House staffers were quoted in news reports accusing Clinton administration staff of doing “a lot more vandalism to the White House and other offices than just yanking ‘Ws’ off typewriters,” mostly in the vice president's offices, including “cut cables, phone lines and electric cords, plus a mess of rubbish.”17
Practicing a “new kind of politics” before a new kind of politics was cool, President Bush dismissed the rumors, saying, “There might have been a prank or two. Maybe somebody put a cartoon on the wall, but that's O.K.”18 So here you had a situation where the official White House position was to deny any vandalism and refuse to produce an official accounting of the damage, even as White House staffers were telling reporters what they had seen with their own eyes. For the first time in world history, the establishment media believed the official White House line from a Republican president.
With the White House refusing to produce records of the damage, the General Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that no damage had been done.19 The GAO didn't issue an official report; it merely provided a one-page letter reflecting the fact that the administration refused to produce records of the damage, noting that “White House repair records do not contain information on the causes of damage being repaired.”20
Suspiciously, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer refused to comment one way or another on any damage, saying, “The White House is going to continue to be gracious in its approach to the matter.” He added, “I think all parties are best served by letting this matter and what was done become a part of history.”21 In what was to become a pattern, Bush left his fellow Republicans twisting in the wind, accused of being liars, while he tried fruitlessly to appease Democrats.
Seeing that the White House was refusing to cooperate with an investigation into the Clinton staffers’ vandalism, Democrats got on their high horses, claiming to be offended, outraged, shocked, and appalled by the original reports of vandalism from anonymous staffers. The howling hyenas wailed that they were victims of Republican smears. Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner delivered a letter to the White House—and more important, the press—signed by thirty-five members of the Clinton administration demanding an official apology. Mark Shields expressed the prevailing dudgeon about the vandalism story, saying, “The whole story was a fabrication and, to be blunt, a lie. It was a deception carefully cultivated by the Bush White House and then fed to friendly conservative journalists who were duped into perpetrating this fraud upon their readers and their listeners.”22
The headlines blared the news that the vandalism was a “lie” and a “hoax”:
“ ‘Vandalism’ Looks a Lot Like a White House Lie” —Deseret News (Salt Lake City), June 12, 2001
“White House Vandalism an Exploited Lie?” —Grand Rapid Press (Michigan), June 11, 2001
“Hoax Adds to Readers’ Skepticism” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 4, 2001
“No Apologies for Lies About Clinton” —Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), May 24, 2001
Finally, exasperated House Republicans demanded that the GAO actually investigate, enraged that Republicans were being called liars on the basis of Bush's gallantry.
Forced to investigate something the Bush White House didn't want investigated, the GAO eventually concluded—as described in the New York Times, June 12, 2002:
The General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said today that “damage, theft, vandalism and pranks did occur in the White House complex” in the presidential transition from Bill Clinton to George W Bush.
The agency put the cost at $13,000 to $14,000, including $4,850 to replace computer keyboards, many with damaged or missing W keys.
Some of the damage, it said, was clearly intentional. Glue was smeared on desk drawers. Messages disparaging President Bush were left on signs and in telephone voice mail. A few of the messages used profane or obscene language.
“A Secret Service report documented the theft of a presidential seal that was 12 inches in diameter from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building,” next to the White House, on Jan. 19, 2001, the accounting office said.
So I guess it was Krugman's own newspaper that put out the “false claims that Clinton staff members trashed the White House on their way out”—by quoting the official GAO report. Foiled by the conservative bias of the New York Times again! This is how liberals rewrite history: No matter how many times we correct them, they just keep repeating provable lies. Over and over again, conservatives are forced to keep reminding people:
The Willie Horton ads were the most magnificent campaign ads in political history.
At the conclusion of the Anita Hill hearings, only 24 percent of Americans believed Hill, while nearly 60 percent of Americans believed Clarence Thomas,23 and the ratio was closer to 20 to 1 among those who worked with Thomas and Hill.24
Pat Buchanan's speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention was a barn burner, not only with the delighted delegates but also with liberal commentators, who gave the speech rave reviews, such as NBC's John Chancellor (“an excellent speech”) and ABC's David Brinkley (“an outstandingly good political speech”),25 Hal Bruno (“I've never seen a better first night”), and Ted Koppel (“[The delegates] walked out of here tonight enthusiastic, [with] a sense of optimism”). Apparently the viewers at home liked it too, giving Bush a 10-point leap in the polls, his biggest one-day bump in the entire campaign.26
The Bush campaign did not spread rumors that John McCain had a black illegitimate child during the 2000 GOP primary.27
Liberals behaved so abominably at Senator Paul Wellstone's memorial service, showering Republican senators “with boos and catcalls from the crowd,” that a disgusted Jesse Ventura stormed out. That's according to former Democratic senator Tom Daschle, who also said that the audience's behavior was so “inappropriate and wrong” that on the plane back to Washington that night, he and his fellow Democratic senators Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan agreed “we were going to pay a price for what had just happened.”28
The GAO investigation concluded that Clinton's staff trashed the White House on the way out.
Interestingly, Krugman dropped from his list of “pseudoscandals” the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which might strike some as a slight oversight. This is on the order of not mentioning Watergate in a list of Nixon administration scandals. How about the scandal that led to only the second presidential impeachment in U.S. history, which came out of what Krugman called the “pretty honest” Clinton administration?
But according to Krugman the “pretty honest” Clinton administration was victimized by unfair news coverage. The only living human who might agree with that assessment is Bill Clinton, who derisively referred to Newsweek magazine as “the house organ of Paula Jones”29—an unfortunate use of “Paula Jones” and “organ” in the same sentence.
Yes, he was referring to the magazine that refused to report Paula Jones's accusations against Clinton for months, described Jones as a “dogpatch Madonna,” killed Michael Isikoff s exclusive on the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and unaccountably employs braying left-wing slattern Eleanor Clift, who named Clinton the
This is the magazine that Clinton accuses of victimizing him.
WHILE MAINSTREAM JOURNALISTS COMPLAIN THAT THE SCANDAL that led to the only presidential impeachment of the twentieth century got too much media coverage, they are always bitterly complaining that their synthetic little scandals aren't getting enough media coverage. Hitler blamed the Reichstag fire on the Communists to consolidate power—but at least there really was a fire. America's establishment media just go about creating fake news stories and then demanding that the rest of us take them seriously. “No one is covering X” is mainstream media code meaning there has been nonstop coverage, the subject has been exhausted, the zone has been flooded—but, alas, the public doesn't care.
Thus, Paul Krugman claimed that the media allowed themselves to be manipulated by Bush into ignoring the Harken Energy and Halliburton scandals. Which is why, to this day, no one in America has ever heard the word “Halliburton.”
According to Krugman, the administration was on the ropes in “the spring of 2002, after the big revelations of corporate fraud.” Democrats were confident of a big win in the midterm elections, but “suddenly,” Krugman says, “it was all Iraq, all the time, and Harken Energy and Halliburton vanished from the headlines.”31
I'm not sure what Krugman means by “the spring of 2002,” but if he means anytime before July of that year, the news coverage of Halliburton and Harken was not overwhelming. Harken Energy was mentioned only once in the New York Times in the first half of the year (January 1 to June 30), compared with 40 times in the second half of the year (from July 1, 2002, to the end of the year), when it allegedly “vanished from the headlines”—no doubt on orders from the Bush administration to throw a midterm election. Similarly, Halliburton was mentioned twice as many times in the second half of 2002 (86 times)—as the election drew closer—as in the first half (43). And that was just in Krugman's own increasingly unread newspaper. Thousands and thousands of news organizations were howling about Halliburton throughout the 2002 election campaign and beyond. Rarely are people as self-righteous as Paul Krugman when they make up facts.