Sunday, April 22, 2007

Conservatives protest the Whitehouse Correspondents Dinner





(pictures at title link). Longtime readers of this blog know that while my brushes with the famous have been few and far between I milk them for everything they've got. So it goes that the FreeRepublic people, an online rightwing community, have evolved since the one and only time I saw them in person. Or maybe it's just a case of this object of protest being more popular than the one I saw.

Funny story; I'm in Washington D.C. for MoveOn's confab, which I pretty much just bought my way into, the "Take Back America" conference, and decide to find the mythic bookstore known to all people who read DC travel guidebooks widely available at stores near you, known as Politics & Prose. Get on the subway to the closest stop from downtown DC and this guy gets on with a sign. Can't read the sign but from the looks of him he isn't likely to be either a liberal or a leftist (ha!), and I have one of those feelings you get when you think that another person's karma is tied up to yours in a web of associations so deep and meaningful with purpose that the very force of the universe itself is being advanced by it. In otherwords, I think he might be going to the same place I'm going although I can't say for sure why he'd be going there.

The stop comes up, we both get off, go up the escalator, and I start the long walk to the bookstore. Being out of shape but in better shape than a large man in a flannel shirt and utility vest I get there before he does, to find that there's a little protest of FreeRepublic people outside the bookstore. I still don't know what it's about. Go inside, see some books, then decide to pay attention to the hundred or so people in the next room and what they may be there for.

Turns out that Sidney Blumenthal, Clinton's pseudo-profundis in extremis aide is giving a talk. And that's what the protest is about. He's written a book on his years in the Clinton White House, and seems to be talking about how the right did a smear campaign through Whitewater. Eh, probably, but even though they emphasized it Hillary probably was guilty of insider trading etc... However, this is about the shine of a presidency that once was, lead by a courageous man who cut welfare and was assailed by the right for a blowjob. Blumenthal basks in the world-historical significance of the fact that the people who took down Clinton are now in charge of the Whitehouse. Ah, you can picture Blumenthal under lights, with a fan causing his hair to shift in the breeze, telling the youngsters about those courageous years, adding "I AM GOD!" after the talk, just to make a rhetorical point about his humility.

Then, amazingly, when the questions open up, after the many people in the audience have literally almost shed a tear over how non-fucked up the Presidency used to be before Bush, some guy starts asking questions about Sidney Blumenthal and domestic assault. That came out of left field. Wikipedia has something on this:

"Blumenthal v. Drudge

In 1997 Blumenthal instigated a libel lawsuit against Internet journalist Matt Drudge stemming from a report in which Drudge said that Blumenthal beat his wife and was covering it up. Drudge retracted the story later, saying he was given bad information, and according to the opinion in Blumenthal v. Drudge, 992 F. Supp. 44 (D.D.C. 1998), he later publicly apologized to the Blumenthals. Blumenthal then filed a $30 million libel lawsuit against Drudge. After a long process, Blumenthal was forced to drop his lawsuit. In his book, The Clinton Wars he comments on how he was induced to settle because he could no longer financially afford the suit. He agreed to a settlement that required him to pay $2,500 to Drudge's attorneys to resolve the matter for "family and financial reasons"."

Notice that this was settled in '98. He was talking in 2003. Blumenthal answered, referencing court cases, and the guy switched tactics to something else, which I can't remember at the moment and probably wasn't as near as controversial as the above. Sometime in the exchange Vince Foster came into the picture.

After it became clear that the rest of the talk would just be between right wing hecklers and Blumenthal I left, to wander back to DC and, well, what the fuck did I do? At some point I ate. At another point...I slept. Then I woke up. I did some stuff. Then I drove back thirteen hours to Florida.

But I'll never forget the man who "The Big Dog" (as Clinton is sometimes referred to) sniffed asses with or the pathetic middle aged men who protested him.

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