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I had ascary dose of reality last Friday while snapping photos of wack-job ChrisBrodeur and Robert Lederman for Andrey Slivka's "NewYork City" piece this issue (page 15). Brodeur's a trip: an intelligentman, with honest convictions about Manhattan's problems in general,and Rudy Giuliani in particular. But without a proper kick in the groinhe'll rave on for hours. Lederman is as steadfast in his opposition tothe Mayor, but is more controlled: He's one of the most articulate activistsI've met in my 11 years here. Anyway, we were speculating about the 2000Senate race in New York and I instinctively brought up the assumed Giulianirun on the Republican side. No way, Lederman, countered: Rudy's got hiseye on the attorney general slot in a George W. Bush administration (orperhaps another winning candidate). Lederman was cagey about his sources, butclaims a deal has already been struck: Rudy helps the presidential candidatecapture New York in the general election and presto! he's A.G., all setto abridge the freedom of all Americans, not just New Yorkers.
I'dnever considered this turn of events but it makes a lot of sense: Giuliani doesn'twant to be one of 100 bodies rattling around the old cloakroom in the Capitol,slapping each other on the back and going for cocktails after their abbreviatedday of work is done. No, he'd rather be his own man, free to prosecutethe hell out of political enemies and maybe take a whack at the First Amendmenttoo. That's scary.

If Lederman'scorrect, it leads to an equally horrific possibility: Sen. Hillary Rodham(D-NY). Without Giuliani in the way?who'd probably defeat the FirstLady, given his popularity in the city and upstate?who's going toknock her down? The supposedly conservative Congressman Pete King, who'sbeen co-opted by Bill Clinton because of the President's successfulintervention into the British-Irish "Troubles"? Notlikely. George Pataki, dreaming of a veep slot with a GOP nominee, won'trun, and after that, New York is bereft of influential Republicans who couldsmash a cash- and endorsement-rich Hillary.

It'sa distressing but completely possible scenario, given Hillary's inexplicablepopularity in the state. (As a journalist friend of mine says, "I thinkHillary is just as demented as Bill, which is why she might run.") Butit's just her first step, I think. With her husband's presidency destinedto be recorded by historians (even the most liberal ones) as one that ranksjust above Warren G. Harding's, Hillary is hell-bent on makingsure she doesn't share the same fate. So, with a successful run in NewYork, aided by Chuck Schumer (who owes her for his defeat of Al D'Amatolast fall) and New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli, the man who'sbeen floating?with her nod of approval, undoubtedly?a possible candidacy,Hillary returns to DC as her own woman. On Jan. 5, The New York Timesgave its tacit approval to a Hillary run in an editorial: "[W]e are stronglyon the side of large fields, intense competition and the general theory of themore the merrier, including those who move to New York to find work."

Then?andyes, it gets much worse?she plots to take back the White House in 2008.It's possible she'll stick with Bill: In that case, President Rodhamwould have two missions: rehabilitate his image while foisting her own agendaon the country. Or, if she dumps the lug, which any sane woman would, she'llmake a go of it on her own, unencumbered by the baggage of a discredited president.Women and Michael Moore (an honorary woman) on the Upper West Sideof Manhattan will rejoice.

Intermission.

There, Ifeel better, just having deposited my lunch of broccoli and noodles in the johnand watching the "Tommy Troubles" episode of Rugrats with mywife and two boys.

The firststep in Hillary's Senate campaign is probably already under way: It'sunusual for a magazine to order a second printing, but I wouldn't be surprisedif the February issue of Vanity Fair has another million copies on theloading dock right now, ready to be delivered to the White House. Gail Sheehy,who writes a fawning profile of the First Lady called "The Clintons: WhyHillary Won't Dump Bill," has never been more smarmy in her prose.As an old pro in the business told me Sunday, Sheehy is Sidney Blumenthal.Without the facelift. But why get catty? Anyway, the entire piece is litteredwith nauseating paeans to Hillary, but the following is surely a classic:

After describingthe Clintons' stormy summer, including when Hillary allegedly discoveredthe truth about Monica Lewinsky shortly before her husband'sAug. 17 non-apology to the nation, and her subsequent cold-shoulder treatmentof him, even when Clinton invited "more black brothers than ever"to a White House prayer breakfast, Sheehy exults in the First Lady'sstump performance in the '98 elections. She writes: "The Clinton whofound redemption in the fall of '98 was not Bill, who continued to infuriateRepublicans with his unrepentant answers to questions sent to him by the JudiciaryCommittee. It was Hillary, who erased the memory of the '94 Democraticcongressional defeat by emerging as the biggest draw of the fall '98 elections."(Interestingly, Sheehy reveals that Alan Dershowitz, the obnoxious lawyerwho defends Clinton at every opportunity on cable talk shows, was a guest lastsummer at a Martha's Vineyard dinner at financier StevenRattner's home. Dershowitz and Clinton, the latter shunned by mostguests, "discussed the Bible.")

Sheehy'snot quite accurate, as the Republicans held control of both the House and Senate,but who am I to interrupt the all-knowing hagiographer? "She was a womanwhose public world was now an oyster full of pearls. Hillary's valiantyear may turn out to be comparable to Jacqueline Kennedy's example of dignifiedgrief after the assassination of her husband."

Second place?Here's my nomination: "She is also a protector. Her life strategy,decided long ago, was to take the raw material of a brilliant, emotionally batteredchild with a good heart and a desperate ambition and shape him into a politicalstar to which she could hitch her wagon full dreams for changing the world.It took a Hillary to raise a president."

Finally,the Jesse Jackson factor. How Jackson, who's self-righteous aboutracial inequality to the point of threatening a primary challenge to Al Gorenext year, got mixed up with the Clintons is anybody's guess. Just anotherattention whore. But there he was at the White House, the night before Clinton'sgrand jury testimony, "ministering" to a "distraught" Chelsea.Jackson told her stories from the Bible, likened her father to King Davidof Israel, "a talented musician, just as Bill is. And yet he becameweak when he saw Bathsheba." Jackson added, for good measure, "What's different here is that Ken Starr is able to play God with government funding."

You getthe gist. It's said in the gossip columns that Sheehy and Carl Bernsteinare competing for whose bio of Hillary comes out first. My money's on Sheehy,since Bernstein's seemed to have writer's block since the wild 80s,but I can only hope her tome will be remaindered as fast as Dan Quaylegets in and out of the GOP presidential race. Then again, as a Red Soxfan, I don't hold out for miracles, especially when an author so well-connectedin the publishing racket is involved.

Shame onVanity Fair's Graydon Carter for publishing, and paying for,such utter garbage.
Put the Lid on Dole: Both of Them Leaveit to Bob Dole to muck up presidential politics. Again. It wasbad enough that he ran the most lackluster campaign in memory three years ago,but now his wife, Elizabeth Dole, no doubt at his Viagra-chargedurging, is contemplating a run at the GOP nomination in 2000. I don't haveany ax to grind with the woman the pundits love to call Liddy, and shegave a swell performance at the '96 convention, but she'd be a lousycandidate for several reasons: One, the party needs a leader from a youngergeneration; at 62, Dole isn't ready for the glue farm, but she doesn'tportray the youthful image that Clinton so artfully exploited in '92.Second, she's never run for any elective office, is wound very tight, sowho knows how she'd perform in debates or on the campaign hustings? Finally,if it's the veep slot she's really after, that just doesn't makesense for George W. Bush, the probable nominee. (Bush, by the way, whosays he won't announce his plans until this spring, has been making surreptitiousvisits to Iowa, away from the media's glare, according to a sourceof mine there.) Dole's from North Carolina, a state that Bush willwin handily; he'd be better off with a Northeastern or rust belt pick,say Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania (a Vietnam vet) or Michigan'sGov. John Engler. In a perfect world, I'd like to see Alan Keyesas Bush's running mate, but he's too radical for a national candidacy.
It'ssaid that Sen. John Ashcroft's departure from the field isa plus for Steve Forbes, who's been assiduously, and shamelessly,courting the religious right the last two years. I don't buy it. Forgivemy repetition, for while Forbes is excellent on economic issues, and seems soundon defense, he's just too damn dorky to get elected. Dan Quayle,the annoying Gary Bauer and Sen. Bob Smith are all nonstarters.

Sen. JohnMcCain will receive early support from a fawning media, but his temper anda scandal-tainted past will leave him as a poor antidote to Bill Clinton.An example of his boosters in the press include Jonathan Alter, whowrote in the Jan. 11 Newsweek: "Most important, to make a race ofit with Bush, he'll need to exploit his status as a war hero to expand'character' beyond the narrow confines of social and sexual sins.If he accomplishes that, he'll help American politics even if he loses."Thank you, Father Alter. I prefer the Jan. 6 comments of George Willin The Washington Post: "Arizona Sen. John McCain had a splendid1998, as such things are reckoned in Washington. That is, he pleased Washington, and the New York Times. His task in 1999 is to recuperate from that." However,seeing McCain speak in Phoenix two weeks ago just pointed out that he'sthe Republican Bill Bradley, and even those years in a cage won'tovercome a dull message and messenger.

As entertainingas he is, I hope Pat Buchanan can keep his ego in check and not run fora third time in a row; his weird strain of populism, anti-immigration and foreignpolicy views that border on the anti-Semitic aren't needed in the GOP skirmish.

Which leavesthe determined Lamar Alexander. He's got the right conservativecredentials, but like Forbes doesn't have a whit of charisma. Granted,pitted against Al Gore that quality might not matter as much, but theGOP will need every advantage it can muster. Already Alexander is attackingBush, ridiculing the latter's slogan "compassionate conservatism"and claiming that Bush is leading in the polls just because of his last name.

Last Thursdayhe told Chris Matthews on Hardball: "I don't like thosewords. I think those are weasel words. I think they mean nothing. They'rejust like Al Gore's words, 'practical idealism.' What they'vedone, both Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore, is they put a couple of words together and?andthey mean exactly nothing. And they confuse the voters. And if we're goingto bring out the best in the country, what we've got to do is restore somerespect for the presidency. [Clinton's] presidency has just destroyed thelanguage: 'Is' doesn't mean 'is'; 'sexual relations'doesn't mean 'sexual relations.' And now we have two leadingpeople on both sides, Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush, using weasel words to build theirwhole political identity."

Obviously,Alexander is petrified that Bush will wrap up the nomination prematurely withhis barrels of cash, loyal family connection and strong record as governor ofTexas. And "compassionate conservatism" aren't "weaselwords." What Bush has demonstrated is that he can reach out to voters previouslyignored by the GOP; that he's for the immigration that's given thiscountry its proud identity; that he won't stake his entire candidacy onthe thorny social issues that the Christian Coalition has so successfullydivided the party on. Alexander's been running for president since he lostin '96; he may have visited every damn farm in Iowa and general store inNew Hampshire by January of next year, but with a truncated primary schedulehe won't have the money, or the appeal, to compete in the huge media-saturatedstates. With his bitterness toward Bush already in full bloom, I doubt he'lleven get a cabinet post or ambassadorship as a consolation prize in the inevitableBush administration.
Waiting for Dignity to Fall Myfriend Al From Baltimore called Friday afternoon in a despondent mood:"The GOP got rolled by the Gramm-Kennedy compromise," he said."Once again, Trent Lott is acting like a Democrat. This means nowitnesses; no Blumenthal, no Lenzner, no Palladino, noLindsey, no Jordan." I told him to hold off on judgment;if The New York Times endorsed the plan he might be right. And sure asBill Clinton is the most corrupt president in a generation, the Timesthundered on Saturday, under the headline "At Long Last, Leadership":"Every now and then sanity breaks out, even in Congress."
The paperwas even more magisterial on Sunday, editorializing: "Friday's accordon the rules for the impeachment trial of President Clinton did offer a stirringpicture of divergent ideologies blending together for the greater good... 'Todaywe have acted in the very best tradition of the Senate,' said Mr. Lott,the majority leader, in announcing a plan to finesse the witness issue, whichwill move the Senate toward its proper goal of censuring Mr. Clinton for lyingunder oath." Never mind that the 100 senators/jurors are supposed to hearevidence and then make a decision, the Times is certain that their misguidedgoal, censure?a wrist-slap?has been achieved.

Time'sNancy Gibbs lampooned the pomposity of the senators after their dealhad been struck. In this week's issue she writes: "And yet to watchthese men and women stream out of the Senate chamber and into their press conferencesand live-satellite feeds, praising themselves as though they just passed theMarshall Plan, was to realize how hard this was to do, and how far they stillhave to go."

But I'mnot so sure this grand decision is a defeat for the men and women who desirea proper punishment for Clinton, i.e., tossing his sorry butt out of the WhiteHouse. It's true that the hurdle to bring forth witnesses is now moredifficult; on the other hand, the Senate is such a deliberative body (some mightsay lazy) that it will be at least six weeks before this trial is over, possiblylonger. In Clinton-time, when a fresh scandal, bimbo eruptions, new indictmentsor an unsanctioned war can surface at any time, that's an eternity. AsDavid Gergen, a former Clinton aide, said on Nightline last Wednesday,"There are a lot of folks in this town who are still trolling through thesewage. And who knows what they would come up with over next eight, or 10 or12 weeks? That's a danger that is ever-present for the White House."

It'spossible, if not likely, that in two months, 67 brave senators will be so disgustedby Clinton and his criminal administration that they'll vote to convict,even if the President's poll ratings are still higher than the Pope's.I put the odds of his removal at about 40 percent.

As I'vewritten before, every day that impeachment remains unresolved, the worse itis for the White House. And the Senate, which is fond of eight-hour days, isn'tabout to finish this off in two weeks, which was the Clinton team's originalhope. As a bonus, the Gramm-Kennedy measure, passed by a unanimous vote, highlightsthe illusory notion of bipartisanship, so Democrats can't complain. Infact, considering what Chicken Little Lott was proposing just a week ago, thisis probably the best Republicans could hope for.

Al e-mailedme Saturday morning, after I explained my position, and was more upbeat, althoughwith several caveats. He wrote: "I knew I could count on you for the upsideto the Gramm-Kennedy deal. You make a good point: if the Republicans can operateunder the bipartisan umbrella, that could be the start of turning it around.The other good thing is that while there's no Tom DeLay in the Senate tolead the charge, there's also no Newt or Bob Barr to vilify,either.

"Butremember, the risk underlying all of this is that bipartisanship, in recenthistory, has always meant that the Democrats get what they want. Big successes,like welfare reform, were never termed bipartisan; it was a Republican ideathat Democrats were forced to go along with, and Clinton got the credit forit. Bipartisan is essentially a media term that invariably favors Democrats.

"Ithink you ought to address why so many people are impressed with Henry Hyde.It's simple: it's clear to almost everyone that he's operatingwith very little political calculation and with absolutely zero self-interest.He's trying to do the right thing, which presents such a stark contrastto the man people now call William Jefferson Clinton."

Maybe nowthere'll be a cessation of all this ridiculous talk of the nation's"paralysis" because of a Senate trial. It's a fraudulent argumentcalculating liberals like Dick Gephardt and David Bonior havebeen spoon-feeding the media for weeks, but it's plain wrong. First, "paralysis"in government is good: The less Congress interferes with the lives of Americancitizens the better off the country is. Again, for slow learners: Cut taxes,defend the nation against rogue dictators, keep crime low and stop trying toregulate business. End of story.

Besides,as Jack Germond and Jules Witcover wrote in the Baltimore Sunlast Thursday, Clinton continues to stage photo ops, whether it's minusculehandouts to urban areas, serving turkey in a soup kitchen or entertaining ahead of state from a country no one's ever heard of. They write: "Mr.Clinton has already emphatically demonstrated his ability to pursue his presidentialagenda, either as a smoke screen to fog the impeachment unpleasantness or ina genuine effort to deal with the nation's pressing business... Meanwhile,history has shown that the country is not so fragile that it can't endure'long national nightmares' caused by reckless personal behavior oferrant political leaders." I think the Baltimore duo is generousin giving Clinton the benefit of the doubt that he might actually have anagenda, but they're from the old school.

Hardball'sChris Matthews, whose anger at the felonious President and his toadyingteam of advisers grows more palpable daily, had a spectacular spat with formerCongresswoman Liz Holtzman last Thursday night. Holtzman, who once enjoyeda reputation, was reduced to agreeing with Matthews' first guest, the cartoonfigure James Carville, insisting the case against Clinton is about "sex,sex and nothing but sex, and an effort to conceal a consensual sexual relationship."Like other Democratic lemmings she said there would be "a terrible priceto pay" for Republicans in the 2000 election.

Holtzman:

I would not like to be running for office in the year 2000, explaining why wedidn't get Social Security reformed or why we didn't deal with someeconomic crisis or why we don't have a patients' bill of rights, butinstead we spend days and months on this issue.

Matthews:

There's only one problem with that Liz, and you know as well as I do, Congressisn't especially productive in January and February. Not a whole lot ofbills come out of either house in those months. It's a time for gettingyour act together, getting your committees organized, maybe taking a coupletrips. It's not the time to pass legislation. So tell me a bill that wasever passed in January or February.

Holtzman:

But his is?but if they start with...

Matthews:

Just name one. Just one. Name one bill ever passed in January or February inthe United States Congress.

Holtzman:

...witnesses?in the first year or second?you're probably right,I'm not disagreeing with you.

Matthews:

I'm not probably right, I'm damn right.

Holtzman: But...but.

Lookingat a crestfallen Liz on the screen, I doubt if she'll ever appear on Hardballagain.

Besides,what is more important to the country right now than determining if Bill Clintonshould remain in office? Whether the leader of the free world has committedcrimes that make him unworthy of his post and is someone who can be dependedon in a real economic or defense crisis? When he lied for months about an affairwith an intern?an intern, for God's sake?why should webelieve he won't lie about matters of far more gravity? It's not asif there isn't a history here: like how he swapped missile technology tothe Chinese for some fast campaign cash in the '96 campaign; the airstrikesagainst Sudan for political cover; the bombs blasted in Baghdadon the eve of his impeachment.

Don'tget me wrong: I'd like this chapter in Clinton's sorry presidencyto be resolved sooner rather than later. It would give the GOP congress a chanceto pass significant conservative legislation?and without Newt Gingrichas a lightning rod, presidential vetoes are less likely?and set the stage for a Republican return to the White House. I just can't stand Clinton'shypocrisy of calling for the end of the "politics of personal destruction"while sending goons like Carville and Larry Flynt to do his dirty work.I'm sick of his constant smirks, epitomized by the pep rally he held atthe White House just hours after he was impeached. As Democratic Sen. RobertByrd said, that spectacle was "an egregious display of shameless arrogance,"giving a hint of how he'll vote after a six- or seven-week trial. It'sthe Democrats, typified by Robert Wexler and John Conyers, who are defaming the Constitution, despite what the mainstream media says, not thenoble Republican House members who voted for impeachment. Once the Clinton questionis decided, whether it's conviction or acquittal, Congress can truly, aseditorialists have said too often, "move on."

The storyof Clinton's love child by an underage black prostitute in Arkansashas now been dismissed, since DNA tests didn't match. Matt Drudge, who stirred up the rumor a week ago, after chasing leaks from The Star'sRichard Gooding, has lost this round. Drudge told The WashingtonPost's Howard Kurtz, who rubs his hands with glee when media"scum" are upended, that he pursued the story "because the DNAchase was happening. The woman was out there making these fantastic claims...The president said he never met her. I reported it all."

Joe Conason,who I assume is drawing three salaries?from The New York Observer,Salon and the White House?used his Jan. 11 Observer column to once again smear Tom DeLay and other Republicans for perceived offensesagainst his hero. He dismissed the possible love child bombshell as pure folly,an ancient story that has no validity, even as he admits that Joe Kleinused it as a subplot in his novel Primary Colors. Where do you thinkKlein got that nugget, Joe? Judging by his political commentary, Klein'simagination isn't quite so prodigious. Maybe Danny Williams isn't Clinton's child, but would it surprise anybody if it's learned thatChelsea has a brother or sister somewhere out in the world?

Conasonpractically admits that Flynt is in league with Blumenthal, Hillary,Carville and Clinton himself. His upcoming one-shot issue will be released exposingmore Republicans' sexual misadventures. It's been leaked that DeLay,Bob Barr and GOP chairman Jim Nicholson will all see their names in themagazine that should net Flynt a couple of million bucks. I wouldn't besurprised to see John Kasich and Bill Paxon in there too.

Conason,a gopher to the end, had the gall to write: "Meanwhile, powered by tabloidmoney and partisan animus, the politics of personal destruction proceeds unabated.Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler magazine, is excoriated daily forencouraging its harmful effects on our political culture. And no doubt his forthcomingaccount of Republican peccadilloes will provide still another occasion for breast-beatingand soul-searching. But the pundits and politicians who find Mr. Flynt'sbehavior so deplorable have no problem controlling their outrage whenever thePresident is in the bull's-eye."

Meanwhile,Terry Golway, whose Observer column runs next to Conason's,made a necessary point about one of the myths of the entire impeachment proceedings.He writes: "The impeachment of Bill Clinton is noting less than an attemptedcoup. As they say in those car-rental commercials, not exactly. If BillClinton were driven out of office and replaced by the repellent Tom DeLay, yes,that would be a coup. But if Bill Clinton were to give way to Al Gore, and AlGore then chose a fellow Democrat for his Vice President, Democrats still wouldcontrol the White House." Well, blow me down. Why haven't any otherpundits and slimy Democrats come to this simple conclusion? Over to MaxineWaters, you wicked witch of the West.

It was refreshinglast week to see a Hollywood actor express his disgust with Clinton. JamesWoods, joining The Wall Street Journal's editorial page in labeling Clinton a "sociopath," told CBS' This Morningthat as a Democrat he can't understand why members of his party excuseClinton's behavior as consensual sex, "as if it were a couple of teenagerson a summer vacation." He continued: "It's consensual sex betweenthe President of the United States while he humiliates his wife and his childin front of the entire world... I think that impacts on all of us."

Time isnot on Clinton's side. While he still has sycophants in the press, a numberof columnists have flipped in the past week, coming to the conclusion that thecountry would be better off if Al Gore sits in the Oval Office.Walter Shapiro, a Boomer who's about Clinton's age and hasalways been sympathetic to him, was unusually harsh in his Jan. 8 USA Todaycolumn: "The problem with Clinton the Policymaker is just the oppositeof Clinton the Impeachment Defendant. When it comes to governing, the presidenthas been risk-averse, always bending his vision to fit polls and congressionalvote counts. But in his private conduct and his legal gambits, Clinton has beena high-stakes gambler willing to risk his presidency on a single roll of thedice. That is the enduring tragedy of the man now before 100 sworn and silentSenate jurors."

RobertKuttner, who was rhapsodic after discussing fiscal policy with President-ElectClinton in '92, now believes the man should be removed from office?andnot for sex. Writing last Friday in The Washington Post he belittledClinton's latest mini-measure for the American people: the long-term careinitiative. Kuttner said the program, which would offer a maximum of $1000 topeople in need, "bore all the marks of Clinton's signature?thecynicism, the tokenism, the cheap symbolic politics... If he needs a job whenhe leaves office, the man should consider taking up three-card monte." Mind you, I almost never agree with Kuttner, who was in favor of Hillary Clinton'seconomy-breaking health care reform bill, but it's gratifying to see a former acolyte realize what a lying bastard the President is. Kuttner concludes:"Let me be clear. I think Clinton's impeachment was a travesty. Ithink it would be absurd to remove him for lying about sex. No, I wish Clintona swift departure on far more consequential grounds. If he is in fact drummedout of office, I suspect few tears will be shed in any quarter."

Kuttnermight have a chat with Thomas Oliphant, a Globe pundit who'llbe by Clinton's side till the last innocent person is smeared. Oliphant,a decent if misguided man, toes the President's line on every initiative,even his cynical bombing of Iraq, which he called a "demonstrationof Clinton's incumbency that was so obvious and powerful." Oliphantmaintains that while the right-wingers are plotting against Clinton, the Presidenthas more important matters on his mind. "His in-box is stuffed with importantmaterial that the last, more Republican Congress couldn't handle: HMO abuses, school-construction financing, campaign finance reform, long-term restructuringfor Social Security and Medicare. And yesterday, the country got a better lookat the president's proposal to use targeted tax credits to help 2 millionfamilies cope with the nightmare of long-term care of seriously ill relatives."Kuttner must've retched when he read the words of his naive colleague.

BaltimoreSun columnist Dan Rodricks, a political centrist who probably votedfor Clinton, is now taking betting action on Clinton's removal. He wrotelast Friday about his conversation with Mac Mathias, a former moderateRepublican senator from Maryland. Mathias, who goes back to the daysof "civility" in Washington that Wall Street Journalin-house liberal Al Hunt longs for, can't figure out why Clintonwas so dishonest with the House Judiciary Committee, let alone the nation,why he gave the House the finger with his dissembling answers to those 81 questionsput to him. The former senator told Rodricks: "Perjury before a grand juryis an attack on our judicial system. This is the man sworn to uphold the judicialbranch... Each day could bring some burning question that demands attention.If something turns up, if they start lifting the rocks and looking under them,who knows where it will go? It's highly dangerous to Clinton."

BillReel, a Newsday columnist who's never liked Clinton, was appalledthat the President, according to a Gallup poll, is more admired thanthe Pope. Referring to the respondents, he wrote: "Why? Are they partialto con men? Do they appreciate being lied to? How could they look up to a cheaterand liar like Clinton? How could they put him above the Pope?... Anybody whoadmires Bill Clinton is morally retarded."

And Newsday'sJimmy Breslin, hardly in the tank with Republicans, is disgusted withClinton not for the Monica angle but because he's a liar. He didn'toutright call for his resignation but it's there between the lines: "[T]hereal case against Bill Clinton is gone and almost forgotten. He made lousy anation that grew, prospered and inspired the world with its reliance on onegreat national standing: To Assist? Clinton first came to us with Roosevelton his lips and George Wallace hidden in his guts. He pretended to be a Democratwho felt the life and hope and brilliance and anguish of New York and turnedout to be a southern president." I don't quite follow Breslin'slogic; after all, everybody knew in '92 that Clinton wasn't the realliberal Breslin describes above, but the columnist's anger is indicativeof the turn against Clinton. People from both sides, liberal and conservative,are ready for Al Gore to take over and rid the White House of a narcissisticscoundrel.

Breslin'sNewsday colleague Marie Cocco, an absolute moron, will need moretime to arrive at Breslin's conclusion. Taking the Gallup poll seriously, believing that people really do admire Clinton, Cocco turns her wrath on?whoelse??the GOP. "They do not seek victory. It is still impossible forany self-respecting vote-counter to imagine there are 67 votes to remove Clintonfrom office. They just want to drag the bloody body around the ring."

Finally,the syndicated columnist James Glassman takes my favorite Dr. Seussbook, Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now, as his advice to Clinton.He writes: "The only answer is resignation. By his actions?the sex,the lying, the obfuscation?Clinton has stained the presidency. Not only can the nation live without him, it will be better for his departure, whichwill teach a moral lesson... In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss... You can goby foot/You can go by cow/Marvin K. Mooney/Will you please go now!"
Tribeca's Not-So-Secret Rosemarie'sIhaven't fully recovered from a stomach virus?haven't been thisgastro-challenged in 20 years?but last Wednesday night I was so sick ofsaltines, chicken broth and gallons of water that I set out for a real meal.John Strausbaugh and his wife Diane joined Mrs. M and me atRosemarie's, one of our favorite restaurants in Tribeca. It'snot "hot," never was really, but has prospered for over 10 years byserving outstanding Northern Italian food. The proprietress keeps a beady eyeon the small dining room, rarely cracking a smile, but making sure no customerleaves dissatisfied. None of us did that evening: Diane and I started with endivesalads, studded with generous chunks of Gorgonzola, walnuts and croutons, whileMrs. M and John opted for Rosemarie's signature fried calamari with lemon-anchovymayo.
Not yetready for a veal chop or huge slab of fish, for an entree I ordered a deliciousbowl of rigatoni with lamb Bolognese that sure beat crackers for my aching stomach.Mrs. M was equally pleased with her gnocchi with spicy sausage and borlottibeans, while John had the he-man's meal of osso buco, about the size ofC.J. Sullivan's fist, complemented by vegetable risotto. Thelast entree, Diane's arctic char with truffle mashed potatoes and chivesauce, completed an eight-for-eight score on the grub. With several glassesof wine and a bottle of mineral water, the tab came to about $140, not bad forsuch a fine meal and convivial atmosphere.

The onetic in Rosemarie's service is that every time you make a trip to the john,or go outside for a smoke, a dutiful waiter folds up your napkin into a littletent for a welcome back to the table. What if, John wondered?and sincehe's a confirmed handkerchief fellow, the question made sense?you'd just soiled the linen with tomato sauce or, worse yet, a big honk of the nose?Wouldn't that turn off the waiter? Whatever: Rosemarie's will neverattract a cattle call from worshipers of tourist guides, but the restaurantis always packed, a testament to its consistent quality and decorous service.

Before headingdown to Rosemarie's we met Kurt Andersen at the Triple Crown,right across from 333. Kurt looked a little ragged that night, with severaldays' growth of beard, but for good reason: He's near completion ofthe final draft of his sprawling novel?600 pages?Turn of the Century,which Random House will publish in late May. It's my guess thatthe book, which has an initial print run of 100,000, an astounding number fora first-time novelist, will be the hit of the season, and will leave Andersenwith the moniker of the turn of the century's Tom Wolfe.

It makessense: As the blurb from the Random House catalog says, the book is "Abig, fresh, energetic, hyperrealistic, up-to-the-second comedy of manners andinsider's social satire set in Manhattan in the year 2000, containing botha paranoid sexual thriller and a farcical billion-dollar heist. It has a happyending."

Yes, I'mbiased in predicting Andersen's success, but years before I even met theman I praised him in print as Manhattan's most gifted writer. At The New Yorker now, writing "The Culture Industry" column,after a stormy tenure as New York's editor, where he wasjettisoned by dilettante owners, he still sets the standard for quality journalismin a city that's so poisoned by mediocre, overpaid glossy magazine writers.(Speaking of which, I'm told Michael Caruso will receive his well-earnedwalking papers from Details any day now.) Still several years away from50, Andersen has a future in which, as the 80s song went, he'll have towear shades.

Two weeksago, in praising NYPress writers with books either on the shelves orforthcoming, I was shamefully absent-minded in neglecting David Lindsay'sThe Patent Files, which will be released by The Lyons Press inFebruary. A collection of his "Patent Files" columns that ran in NYPress from '93-'98, this book might not reach the mainstream, but it should:Lindsay writes with rare intelligence on the most arcane of subjects, and was always an asset to these pages.

Now, asSpy magazine used to chide in the late 80s, pushing subscriptions, Iask this question of The New York Observer's editors:"Joining Us Late?" In an editorial last week, almost as jarring asits call for Bill Clinton's ouster a few weeks ago, was ascreed against three of Manhattan's most repellent figures in journalism:Mort Zuckerman, Steve Brill and Ed Kosner. This is turfthat's been well-covered in NYPress, for years, if only becauseit's so obvious. I'm glad for the company.

(By theway, the Observer, and editor Peter Kaplan, made Newsweek'sJan. 18 list of "20 Stars of the New News." Funny that a newsweeklypublished in Manhattan could botch a short item so badly. "Boasting anold media format and a decidedly new media attitude, Kaplan's pale pinknewspaper is regularly seen folded under the arms of the self-styled New Yorkelite. Both a high-class gossip rag and a home for sharp voices on the left[Joe Conason and Philip Weiss] and the right [Hilton Kramer, Michael Thomas]."Guys, the paper is pale orange, or peach, if you want to get fancy.Second, Phil Weiss has written some of the most damaging anti-Clintonpieces in the country this year and is hardly a "voice of the left."In addition, Michael Thomas, who voted for Clinton in '92, is allover the map, and can't be considered part of the vast right-wing conspiracy.)

The Observeron Zuckerman: "Hats off to Mr. Zuckerman, who has managed the seeminglyimpossible: He has made a tabloid unreadable. With even politics now part ofthe tabloid news cycle, the Daily News?which exemplified Americantabloid journalism for decades?should be in its glory. Instead, it inducesin readers a permanent state of narcolepsy. Why? It certainly doesn't helpthat Mr. Zuckerman has never met a tabloid reader, wouldn't know whereto find one and wouldn't understand his or her concerns. Imagine Mr. Zuckermanstumbling across a Daily News subscriber. What would he say?" Probablysomething like, "Fuck off, itinerant, can't you see you're touchingmy coat!?"

On Kosner:"Mr. Kosner is fresh from ruining Esquire, turning an eminent literaryshowcase into a men's consumer pamphlet about the six best mustards intown and premature baldness. No doubt Mr. Kosner is going to bring that sameinane sensibility to the Daily News, which will further dilutethe newspaper of the New York worker into a dispensable curiosity, a pale simulacrumof its former self." A little condescending, I'd say, with the invocationof the "New York worker," and I'm quite sure editors at the Observerdidn't read the News before it became a carbon copy of a daily inthe hinterlands. And the shot at Esquire isn't quite right: Themonthly with a fancy pedigree has been a shell for years, far before Kosner'sshort and forgettable tenure there. Still, the Observer's spiritis on the money.

And Brill:"Now, if the puffed-up Mr. Brill reads his own publication, we feel sorryfor him. Only someone as profoundly solipsistic as Mr. Brill could have inventedBrill's Content, which sounds like a hair cream, and should be."Okay, the joke's not too funny, but the Observer is spot-on oncemore: Brill's Content is a self-righteous snore that will disappearonce the first snowflake of a recession falls.

I took partof the afternoon off last Thursday to get some rest and subjected myself bothto the February issue of Brill's Content and the latest RollingStone. You thought deposed editor Michael Kramer, a schmoozing journalisticretread, was bad? Wait till you see the work of I'm-on-happy-pills! replacementEric Effron, who could double for the Voice's nouveau richeRob Brezsny. (On second thought, don't: That's why you'rereading this column.)

Brill wrotethe lead story, a snoozer called "Why CBS News and CNN Should Merge,"that was dense beyond belief even by the founder's standards. There'snothing else in the issue that couldn't be found in other publications,one of Content's main problems: As a mainstream magazine, it hasno reason to exist. On page 26, Brill takes a whack at Rupert Murdochand his New York Post for reporting about Chelsea Clinton'sboyfriend difficulties at Stanford. He writes: "On November 25,the New York Post, the trashy daily comic book that is a hoot to readbut can usually be safely ignored, achieved a prominence that must make itseditors (and proprietor Rupert Murdoch) proud." He then complained thatmany "usually serious" news organizations picked up the story. A fewpoints: At least Brill admits the Post is a "hoot to read,"unlike his magazine. In addition, the Post is a tabloid and includesgossip. Finally, the Post has an engaging editorial section, as wellas the crack Washington reporter Deborah Orin, and just creamsthe Daily News for substance.

In "TheNotebook," on page 32, Content informs readers that Timemagazine twice this year ran two separate covers! The first, when the Yankswon the Series, pictured the team on the cover for New Yorkreaders; the rest of the country saw Tom Wolfe. The second featured "TheFall of Newt" while Minnesota readers got even more of JesseVentura. This common ploy by a magazine is news or even worthy of observation?

On page34, we learn that Carl Bernstein's favorite magazine is VanityFair, where he's a contributing editor; also, he prefers DanRather over Tom Brokaw or Peter Jennings, while admittinghe's a consultant at CBS. Yawn, that's a fun fact I could'vediscovered in Entertainment Weekly. On the same page, Ted Roseapes a New Republic piece by Jason Zengerle about law professorJonathan Turley's prominence as a talking head. With one twist:Rose's headline is "A Pundit's Rise and Fall," when in reality,Turley is still on the tube almost as often as James Carville.

CalvinTrillin, the two-century man I wrote about a few weeks ago, appears inContent with a column absurdly called "The Wry Side" and provesthat he can double-dip just as adeptly as Alex Cockburn (only at NYPresswe nab the genial iconoclast). Trillin writes about the "Sabbath gasbags,"a phrase that shows up in his Jan. 11 Time column and on a recent interviewwith Tim Russert on CNBC. Trillin refers, of course, to the talkingheads who appear on Sunday news shows. Again, evidence that Content hasnothing original to offer readers.

In "StuffWe Like," I have no problem with Brill plumping for The WeeklyStandard or Leslie Heilbrunn praising The Economist's"Lexington" column, but Effron gooing over Jim Mullen'sdreadful "Hot Sheet" in Entertainment Weekly gives a majorclue about the new editor's questionable taste. Jeff Pooley recommendingthe Harper's "Readings" section is only about eight yearstoo late.

I did likeLorne Manly's piece about the feud between James Wolcottand Jay McInerney. The novelist told Manly: "I'm a little tooold and jaded at this point to be shocked by vindictiveness and perfidy."But this kind of piece certainly fits in more at Manly's previous publication,The New York Observer.

Then there'sBen Stein on how the 50s wasn't the boring decade that Boomer journalistsmake it out to be (duh, although including Perry Como as a highlightof those years is suspect) and a feature about the revitalized crossword puzzleat The New York Times. And... I can't go on. Sleeping pills tooexpensive? Get a subscription to Brill's Content.

In a subscriptionpitch I received from Content last week?the magazine already sulliesmy postal box; they could cut down on direct-mailing costs by ferreting outduplications?president Margaret E. Samson gushes about the founder."In years past," she writes, "Steve parted the curtains on America'slegal system with The American Lawyer magazine and the COURT TV cablechannel. Now he has brought the same refreshing jolt of honesty, clarity andunbiased, lively reporting to the world of American media. And he's succeeded!"Uh, yeah. So "unbiased" that in the magazine's debut issue, inwhich Brill trashed Ken Starr's work as independent counsel,he didn't reveal that he and his wife were contributors to Bill Clinton's'96 presidential campaign. His credibility tarnished, Brill has yet torecover.
Hip ReplacementNeedany more reasons why the Village Voice is so lame? Try Linda Stasi's"From the Hip" column, a piece of work that's even stupider thanLynn Samuels' in the Long Island Voice. In last week'sissue, combing through stories from 1998, she found room to slander Margaret Thatcher, the great British prime minister. Stasi bleats, in typical Voice-speak:"The nation was rocked, the citizens were shocked that House Speaker Livingston[speaker-designate, hon] admitted to extramarital sex. Me? I was more shockedthat he ever even had marital sex. Look at the guy. Who did he fool aroundwith? Margaret Thatcher?"
I must repeatonce more my disgust with syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage. Even thoughhe's a partial owner of The Stranger, the alternative newspaperthat competes with the Seattle Weekly, owned by Leonard Stern,he still allows his work to appear in the Voice. Even though Stern istrying to put The Stranger out of business. Savage once told me thathe gets freaked out about money and considers any talk of it dirty. Listen pal,what you're doing by accepting Stern's dough is plenty dirtyand don't you forget it. It's a disgrace and publisher Tim Keckought to kick you in the teeth.

JANUARY 11





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