Dan Rather must have learned a lot covering Bill Clinton. You can see it in the way he has responded to this scandal. When Bill Clinton was faced with a scandal, no matter his culpability, he denied it. This gave him time to rally his forces and to see what evidence the other side had. Then he would repeatedly make the same tactical moves.– Tell me if these sound familiar.
Clinton would deny the charges in the most vehement of terms and feign righteous indignation. All Dan is missing is the shaking finger.
Then team Clinton would attack his accusers and attempt to discredit them. Hillary had the “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.” CBS has the bloggers.
Later Clinton would make an impassioned speech to the public saying, “I’m a nice guy, you believe me don’t you?”
Then the denials would become increasingly legalistic. Clinton needed a clarification of what the meaning of the word is is and he left the Office of the President still unsure what the words “sexual relations” meant. This morning on CBS Rather said, “The story is true (pause) in that it raised serious and legitimate questions about what then Lt. George W. Bush did or did not due, during his Texas National Guard service.” Nobody has denied you asked questions Dan, we wanted to know about the documents.
Above all, the overriding tactic of the Clinton damage control team was to stall. If you stonewall long enough, the media will get bored. CBS has refused to say where it got the documents. They have refused other media organizations access to the documents or even to independent forensics exerts. They, like Clinton before them, have hunkered down and hoped for the media storm to blow over. Then when the
billing records memos magically appear sometime in the future, the moment will have passed.
There is another similarity to the most famous of Clinton scandals. When Clinton was faced overwhelming evidence he lied about Monica Lewinsky he knew he could stall. He sent his surrogates to claim Lewinsky was some pathological stalker. For a time it worked, the media told his story. He almost got away with it… until the blue dress. It was DNA evidence, not a crisis conscious, that forced his confession. Without that blue dress, Lewinsky would have been trashed by the administration and Clinton would have denied it forever.
The problem with today’s story is that CBS has the blue dress. Without access to those memos, Rather can deny forever that there is a problem with them. They have, in effect, the perfect defense. They have the smoking gun and refuse to let anyone see it.
Which brings us to the last similarity to the Lewinsky affair, Monica had Lucianne Goldberg telling her to come forward with the dress. We are forced to wait for the media to shame CBS into releasing the documents. Baring a scathing editorial from the New York Times or a lawsuit of some kind, they have no reason to release the incriminating evidence.
Unless something changes, it looks like Dan Rather will get away with this… and he’ll have Bill Clinton to thank for showing him how.