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Caveat lector

22 October 1998

A Howler postscript: Right on this too

Synopsis: Every time we look around this week, our past judgments are being supported.

Orrin Hatches an Egg
Matthew Rees, The Weekly Standard, 10/26/98

It’s painful to have to do this again--to show you how right we’ve been all along--but Rees here makes us revisit a point we made September 25. On The Today Show, Tim Russert had told Matt Lauer how easy it would have been for President Clinton just to have come clean back in August, since everyone-and-his-uncle had been saying that, if he were just truthful, it would all be OK. (See “Our current howler,” 9/25/98)

It’s the kind of simple story the press corps loves to tell, always with the same simple theme--That Crazy Clinton Just-Won’t-Tell-The-Truth, even when it would be harmless to do so.

We pointed out that, while some Republicans were assuring Clinton that things would be OK if he just came clean, it was absurd to suggest that “everyone” thought so. Rees’ article by shows how right we were, when we jumped on Tim for misleading poor Matt with his sweet-sounding morality tale:

REES: The teeth-gnashing on Capitol Hill these days isn’t coming from Democrats upset with Bill Clinton, but from Republicans exasperated with Orrin Hatch...(M)any Republicans believe his appearances [on national television] have thrown a life preserver to Clinton and provided Democrats with cover to vote against conviction in a Senate trial.

Hatch had been the principal GOP voice assuring Clinton it would be OK if he just came clean. Rees describes GOP distress with Hatch’s perceived Clinton-coddling. Rees’ piece makes the point we suggested last month: that Hatch was surely not speaking for all Republicans in his advice to Clinton before August 17.

What Russert told Lauer made a great-sounding story; but it simply wasn’t reality-based. Luckily, folks, you read THE DAILY HOWLER. But who will get the word to poor Matt?