Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Joe Conason's non-hypocritical Spy piece. Media Log has obtained a copy of Joe Conason's 1992 article for Spy on the alleged infidelities of George H.W. Bush - the subject of much chortling over the weekend by Mickey Kaus, given Conason's outrage over the John Kerry sex rumors.

As I suspected, the so-called hypocrisy Kaus thought he had unmasked was anything but. Yes, Conason did indeed give a full - a very full - airing to longstanding rumors that the first President Bush liked to cat around. But Conason did it entirely in the context of the sexual witch hunt to which the media had subjected Bill Clinton and, earlier, Gary Hart. Conason wrote:

But the media deflowering of "Gennifer with a G," cabaret singer, former Arkansas state employee and self-proclaimed (and, for snitching about it, handsomely paid) Bill Clinton sex partner, again poses the problem that agitated the press during the 1988 election: If stories about womanizing could ruin Gary Hart and cripple Clinton (not to mention Senator Chuck Robb), then why isn't anybody looking into the stories about George Bush?

And this, in the windup toward the end:

Even more to the point is that the Republicans have not hesitated for an instant to employ such information against their opponents. They have been involved in the exposure of Bill Clinton, and the GOP is reported to have three dozen researchers working full-time to produce even more dirt. There is, or there ought to be, such a thing as a level playing field.

Certainly it's past time for American politics to grow up and reach a point where stories about our leaders' sex lives are treated as the titillating, perhaps largely irrelevant trivia they usually are. But that maturity will never be achieved as long as the public is permitted to see the messy human truth only about Democrats, while Republicans are displayed inside a bubble of happy, wholesome illusion.

Is that clear enough, Mickey? Of course, since he was relying on a USA Today description of Conason's article, it's likely that he hadn't even read it.

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