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Hullabaloo


Thursday, October 01, 2009

 
Doomed To Repeat It

by digby

Ok, my head just exploded. I apologize for the mess.

Chris Matthews is interviewing Taylor Branch about his new book about Bill Clinton. He lived through the 90s. He was reporting from Washington throughout them. He had a show during much of them. And he seems to not know anything about what happened during that time.

He is, naturally, obsessed with the dirty, dirty, but beyond that his knowledge of events is just bizarrely wrong. For instance, he asks Branch why Clinton "never dealt with" the Lewinswky scandal, (apparently thinking he needed to apologize for the 793,125th time.) He asked him if he ever confessed to "cracking up" and screwing up his presidency. Here's what followed:


Branch: Well, first of all, he was frustrated that his presidency was off course and besieged by tabloid scandals for six years of which the Lewinsky one was the only one that proved any substance. He forfeited the attempt to rise above the cynicism of the tabloid era by validating that cynicism with Monica Lewinsky. And his only explanation was that he felt sorry for himself, yet he was trying so hard to to be a good president and all anybody wanted to talk about was filegate, travelgate and whether or not he had killed Vince Foster.

Matthews: Did he think that people ... well let's get to some of the more extreme charges against him. Did he think that anybody thought that, anybody real, I mean we talk about the nut jobs all the time. But does anybody really think that Bill Clinton put a hit on his friend Vince Foster?

Branch: No, but it stayed in the news for six years.

Matthews: What news?

Branch: .... that's astonishing. It was all over the place.

Matthews: What newspapers carried that?

Branch: Well first of all..

Matthews: The Clinton Chronicles, you know and Fox

Branch: Ken Starr could make stories about it all the time. It was an official investigation of the Whitewater special counsel.

Matthews: I forgot, you're right. What's his name, the guy from the mid west who shoots the canteloups. He got involved with it.

Branch: So the only purpose of that was to lead toward impeachment which, of course, is where it wound up. That's what you have a special counsel for.

This isn't the first time Matthews has completely mangled recent history in ways that make you wonder if he's even sentient. But this one is really stunning.

The Vince Foster investigation was not only investigated by Ken Starr. It was investigated by the police and the FBI and it was ruled a suicide. That wasn't good enough for the Republicans in both the House and Senate who conducted their own investigations. Coming up empty,they nonetheless insisted that the Whitewater Special Counsel Robert Fiske also conduct an investigation, which he did, and also determined that it was a suicide. At that point, the three judge panel made up of Republican operatives that assigned Independent Counsels, fired Fiske and appointed Ken Starr who took up the investigation again.

You can make the case that there would have been no Lewinsky scandal if it hadn't been for the Foster investigation since Robert Fiske seemed to be at least somewhat sane and he probably wouldn't have thought it within his purview to make a federal case out of an extramarital affair.

That Matthews doesn't remember any of this and seems to think it was confined to the margins of Limbaugh and Falwell is just mind-boggling. But I think that's how the entire Village sees that. They refuse to admit that it was the mainstream media that pimped the scandals that made the whole Village swoon with excitement for eight long years:

Matthews: Why did he hate the press?

Branch: Because he looked up to the press and he thought they should be trying to do the agenda of the country but instead they were falling in behind the Republicans who were chasing all these tabloid stories.

Matthews: But you know... most people watching this show say that ... I'm not talking about our show because I have a tough sort of attitude ... but they would say that the mainstream broadcast nets, ABC, NBC, CBS are all sort of somewhat left of center, certainly conservatives say. They're not lefty, they're establishment liberal.

Why would he think that the liberal establishment, reflected in newspeople's opinions were anti-Clinton? [head explodes here --- ed]

Branch: (looking at this point like he's walked into an insane asylum) That's what drove him nuts. But more specifically, the New York Times and the Washington Post drove the Whitewater scandals and he always looked up to them and he though they were sucked into some tabloid netherworld that was detracting from his agenda for the country.


Taylor Branch is so clearly not a villager it's almost like he's talking to aliens from another planet in this press junket. They simply cannot believe what he has to say. And yet, it is exactly as I remember it: the truth being before my eyes while the likes of Chris Matthews refuse to acknowledge it -- don't even see it apparently, so dizzy are they still with the potent musk of Monica madness.

There is simply no doubt that Taylor Branch is correct --- the media turned into a bunch of gossipy scandalmongers eager for any right wing piece of dirt they could smear on Clinton and the Democrats, all the while protesting that they had nothing to do with it. Matthews doesn't even know the most basic facts and he was reporting it at the time. (And he is paid five fucking million dollars a year!)

I'm sorry, but this is so disturbing. It isn't just Matthews. It's the whole village, which constructed this alternate universe that is, as Branch went on to say, still with us today. They turned politics into a scandal machine and rewrote the story to their own liking as it was happening. It was the most frustrating thing I ever lived through. it led to the excoriation of Gore, and the eight years of George W. Bush and the legacy of failure and debt he left behind. I blame them as much as anything for this.

And as you can see with all these jackasses drooling and slavering over this Branch history, in which the only thing they still care about is Monica, Monica, Monica (and whether or not Hillary really is a frigid bitch) they haven't changed a bit. (Acorn! Hookers! Homos!)

If you are a religious person, be sure to say a prayer for Taylor Branch. He's about to have his sterling reputation destroyed and not only by the wingnuts who will eviscerate him. The smirky smugness of Chris Matthews makes it clear that the Villagers are not going to stand by and let this man tell the truth.


Update: While I appreciate the fact that Matthews defended Grayson today (and defended him well) the problem remains that he and the villagers don't have an ethical compass on these things and that's a problem for our politics in general.



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