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2 December 1998

A Howler follow-up: One more outrage

Synopsis: If Bill Bennett would just tell the truth himself, his trademark outrage would be a bit more persuasive.

Hearing on Perjury Shows Partisan Divide
Edward Walsh and William Claiborne, The Washington Post, 12/2/98

The Death of Outrage
William J. Bennett, The Free Press, 1998


The penitent perjurers appeared before Congress, keening and wailing in painful contrition. Meanwhile, Walsh and Claiborne, in the Washington Post, help us close the books on Bill Bennett’s Death of Outrage.

Yesterday, we pointed out how the perpetually-furious Bennett had pimped Barbara Battalino about in his book, asking angrily: “Why should exactly the same standard of justice, for exactly the same offense, not clearly apply to Bill Clinton himself?”

The dyspeptic Bennett, as is his habit, was raging, raging against the dying of the day! But today’s article helps us see that Dr. Rage was just pulling our leg in his account of Battalino (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/1/98).

Here’s what Walsh and Claiborne tell us about Battalino’s case. The boys have just said the good doctor had been sued for engaging in a sex act with a psychiatric patient, Ed Arthur:

WALSH/CLAIBORNE: She then requested that the federal government “certify” her under the Federal Tort Claims Act, thereby making the government responsible for any monetary damages resulting from Arthur’s lawsuit.

The writers go on to say that it was during a hearing on Battalino’s request that she lied about her conduct with Arthur.

Well, we couldn’t help noticing a small minor factor that Bennett had omitted from his account in Outrage. Like Pam Parsons, the co-perjurer whose conduct we parsed only yesterday, Battalino’s perjury had occurred in a case which she herself had initiated. In other words: she had filed a perjurious court case for her personal gain, in the course of which she lied about her conduct. There wasn’t a word in Bennett’s outraged account to tell us that this was the case.

None of this tells us whether Bill Clinton lied under oath. None of this says whether Clinton should be removed from his office. We can’t discern from this set of facts whether Clinton should be prosecuted in 2001. But we do perhaps get another look at why folks ain’t all outraged like Bennett.

Bennett tells readers that President Clinton committed “exactly the same offense” as Barbara Battalino. And it turns out that’s not quite the truth. It’s the very same pattern of spin and hyperbole we briefly scanned yesterday in Bennett’s big book. Once again, the Crown Prince of Cranky fails to give it up straight, in the effort to bring down Vile Clinton.

Why hasn’t the public just fallen in line, marching behind the Pied Piper of Pique? Maybe they got tired of being spun and deceived by those who call Clinton a spinner.

Now that’s a lawyer: Is it worse to lie in a lawsuit that you yourself brought? To falsely bring claims against others? J. Lewis Cromer seems to think that it is, and he was the lawyer to the penitent Parsons when she brought her lawsuit against poor Sports Illustrated.

Here’s what Cromer had to say in the article today in the Post:

WALSH/CLAIBORNE: Noting that Parsons had initiated the lawsuit, Cromer described her as “the architect of her own destruction,” and said “to compare Pam Parsons with the president is to compare mules with Man o’ War. It’s a totally different situation. It makes no sense to compare them...She was the architect of that case.”

Cromer says that the judge in the case had ordered the perjury investigation out of his feeling that Parsons “was manipulating the system.”

Incidentally, we’ve said all along that a reasonable person could make a case that President Clinton should be hounded from office. But we repeat a key point we made yesterday. The conduct of Parsons and Battalino is distinctly different from Clinton’s alleged conduct. Do people get prosecuted for what Clinton did? If these are the best cases the GOP can find, searching all the way back to 1984, that would support what’s been said all along: that it really is a rare thing indeed, to be prosecuted for what Clinton did.