Paying For Coffee

by digby

This post at FDL discusses the refusal of the Department of Justice under the Bush administration to enforce the FACE Act, which stands for the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances Act. The man who shot Dr Tiller had been violating that law repeatedly for years. Read the whole thing, it's an important part of the story.

It reminded me of an article from 1997, that puts it into even greater perspective:

Tuesday, April 1 1997; Page A04

When Wichita physician George Tiller made a $25,000 contribution last year to the Democratic National Committee, he asked a Kansas party fund-raiser for a special favor in return.

One of the few doctors in the country who perform third-trimester abortions, Tiller wanted a chance to personally thank President Clinton for 30 months of door-to-door protection by the U.S. Marshals Service. The service provided to Tiller, who was shot in 1993 by an antiabortion extremist, goes far beyond what the government has afforded to any other abortion provider faced with threats and on-the-job violence, interviews show.

Tiller got his wish and last June 17 was one of 13 guests at an intimate coffee hosted by the president. The chain of events and circumstances surrounding the coffee illustrate the 1996 campaign's unusual minuet of fund-raising and government action in a year when controversial figures such as Chinese industrialist Wang Jun, convicted felon Eric Wynn and others gained an audience at the White House as the party made a pell-mell effort to raise campaign funds.

Tiller abruptly lost his Marshals Service protection last month, shortly after Kansas news media reported his presence at the coffee.

Those coffees and the Lincoln Bedroom were among the stupidest of the Clinton scandals --- if all people wanted was to meet the president or spend the night at the white house in exchange for campaign contributions, that's the most benign form of corruption possible. (We soon learned that having closed door meetings with an unknown list of energy giants to game the system in favor of their industry is far more "seemly" to the villagers. Clinton just didn't think big enough.)

But I digress. The DOJ said that the two events were unrelated, but that's very hard to believe. If you were around during that time, we were in the grip of an hysteria not sen since the Salem Witch Trials. As far as the Village was concerned those coffees were worse than Watergate. I don't believe for a minute that that the withdrawal of Tiller's protective service was related. The prevailing narrative was that anyone who contributed to Clinton and attended those coffees had no legitimate claim to government services. It was automatically corrupt.

You can't blame Tiller's assassination on this, of course. It was over ten years ago. But it underscores the fact that the culture wars are inherently political and that you can't separate the conservative movement from the fringe. It's a seamless system.