Those Uncouth Clintons Have Once Again Given Peggy Noonan The Vapors
The Clintons! The damn Clintons! She ground her teeth as she dumped Alka-Seltzer into her gin, sending waves of liquor splashing over the lip of the glass and along her wrist. She paid no attention as she lifted the glass and drops of gin ran down her arm, soaking the sleeve of her dressing gown. Would no one ever rid her of the pestilence that was those Arkansas grifters?
Had not the nation been through this before? Had we not had enough of the scandals of the 1990s – the missing billing records, the fired civil servants, the (shudder) fellatio, the murdered advisors? Had she not written her own book on the topic?
And still the damned Clintons kept rising from the grave like immortal zombies, tottering across the political landscape, gobbling up money with the single-minded abandon of the undead tearing into living flesh. Here she stood in her tastefully appointed aerie above Manhattan, bought with money made as she ascended to the top of her chose profession, a successful writer, Sister Peggy Noonan of the Eternal Order of the Ativan Mists, and even here, now, in 2015, the wretched Clintons could still reach her.
Her glass was empty. She refilled it all the way to the top, sat down at her ancient Underwood, checked the ribbon, and began pecking at the keys.
With the exception of the moment Wednesday when a hardy reporter from TMZ actually went to an airport and shouted a query at Mrs. Clinton — it was just like the old days of journalism, with a stakeout and shouted queries — Mrs. Clinton hasn’t been subjected to any questions from the press.
Hillary and her people are getting a free pass! Why, she, Peggy, barely heard anything about this story at all on any network or in any paper, which is why she chose it as the subject of this week’s column. The people must know!
Why doesn’t the legacy press swarm her on this? Because she is political royalty. They are used to seeing her as a regal, queenly figure. They’ve been habituated to understand that Mrs. Clinton is not to be harried, not to be subjected to gotcha questions or impertinent grilling. She is a Democrat, a star, not some grubby Republican governor from nowhere.
The story was only broken because some enterprising Republican handed it to a reporter at a little alt-weekly known as The New York Times, which was also the scrappy upstart that broke all those Whitewater stories that dogged the Clintons all through the 1990s. Thank God for papers like the Times that don’t kowtow to political royalty and are never afraid to pursue the truth.
Sixteen years ago, when she was first running for the Senate, I wrote a book called “The Case Against Hillary Clinton.” I waded through it all — cattle futures, Travelgate, the lost Rose law firm records, women slimed as bimbos, foreign campaign cash, the stealth and secrecy that marked the creation of the health-care plan, Monica, the vast right-wing conspiracy.
And then the president was impeached for lying about precisely one of those things, and the vast right-wing conspiracy turned out to actually be true. Hmmm, perhaps this column was not going the way she wanted. How to save it?
As I researched I remembered why, four years into the Clinton administration, the New York Times columnist William Safire called Hillary “a congenital liar … compelled to mislead, and to ensnare her subordinates and friends in a web of deceit.”
Do we have to go through all that again?
Ha ha, William Safire! From the liberal, uh, New York Times! Liberal media cited! Let’s see the Democrats counter that!
As for that last question, she did wonder. Perhaps America’s press could avoid screaming “Scandal!” every time Hillary sneezed without covering her mouth. Perhaps this election could be about the issues, and the great nation could avoid combing through every podunk business transaction and land deal from the 1990s on which it had already spilled so many millions of hours and words. Perhaps the press, of which she was a part, could make sure every Clinton “scandal” was actually about something more than “optics” before it went off half-cocked because some shady Republican operative hollered “Squirrel” and waved a half-formed and vague story at every little twerp with a cheap tie and an iPad. Perhaps…
She came to hours later, flat on the floor of her parlor, covered in shattered glass and gin. Her trusty Underwood still sat on her desk, a page of good American paper stock jutting up from it like a white flag. The remnants of a dream, something about having a conscience and making a choice, floated in her skull for just a moment before slipping off into the mists. She shuddered at the horror. Then she hollered for her house-boy Manuel. She was going to need help off the floor and a fresh drink, for she had a column to finish.