Richard Clarke, Meet Linda Tripp

Democrats, it would seem, have developed a sudden new sense of protectiveness for those who tell tales out of school. Anyone who remembers the name Linda Tripp cannot help but be amused at the Democrats rushing forward to decry the 'trashing' of Richard Clarke. Where were these same Democrats when Linda Tripp was vilified on a daily basis?

 

It is worth taking a few moments to consider the two cases in a comparative light.

 

Alleged Offense

 

Clarke broke with over two hundred years of tradition, and revealed the national security deliberations of professional non—political career civil service advisers to the President and his chief aides. In doing so, he ensured that future Presidents will never be able to rely on their staff to respect the confidentiality previous Presidents of both parties have enjoyed. Certain views or potential courses of action may unexpressed, as a result of the threat of future publicity from a tell—tale aide. Clarke also reportedly contradicted previous (so far secret) testimony and background briefings he previously provided. Claims in his book have also been found to be at variance with the facts.

 

Tripp was asked by Monica Lewinsky to perjure herself, so as to protect their former boss, Bill Clinton, from the discovery of his sexual dalliance with a young woman entrusted to his care as an intern. To avoid being set up as a fall—guy, Tripp prudently tape recorded telephone calls from Lewinsky, who had attempted to suborn perjury. She thus 'betrayed' the 'friendship' of someone who wanted her to commit a felony to benefit the 'friend.'

 

Nature of Criticism

 

Clarke's writings and testimony before the 9/11 Commission have been subjected to comparison with his previous writings and testimony, some of which have been, or have been proposed to be, newly declassified or released. Clarke's motivation in writing his book has been questioned, in that his publisher has launched one of the most successful and highly—coordinated publicity campaigns in publishing history, encompassing moving the timing of publication to match his 9/11 Commission testimony, and tying—in sister company CBS's premier showcase venue, Sixty Minutes. Clarke stands to earn a million dollars or more. He has, in response, promised to donate an unspecified 'portion' of his earnings to the families of 9/11 victims and military survivors of the Afghan campaign. The most partisan critics of Clarke have gone so far as to call him a backstabber, betrayer, and disloyal.

 

Linda Tripp was also called a backstabber, betrayer, and disloyal. Her tape recordings spoke for themselves, and were uncontradicted. Tripp was accused of wanting to profit from a book, allegedly being 'in it for the money,' although no book was ever proposed, written, or published. Additionally, Tripp's morality, weight, and personal appearance were savagely ridiculed. John Goodman, a portly male actor, donned a dress and mocked her appearance and her very femininity on Saturday Night Live, on a regular basis.

 

Consequences

Clarke has dominated the past week's news, and his charges have been respectfully reported by nearly all of the major media. Only some of the media have subjected his charges to comparison with his earlier testimony and backgrounder views. There have been no reports of Clarke's pension or retirement benefits being challenged. The size of Clarke's advance from his publisher and his potential profits from his book have only today been revealed in a leak to Drudge. Clarke's close connection to John Kerry's foreign policy advisor (the two men jointly teach a course at Harvard's Kennedy School) has been barely noted, and is not the subject of daily commentary in most of the press.

 

No ridicule of Clarke's appearance, weight, or masculinity has so far come to our attention. If Saturday Night Live has plans to hire Roseanne Barr or some other fat comedienne to mock Clarke's weight, appearance, and masculinity, no publicity has yet been generated for the comedic festivities.

 

Linda Tripp was fired from her job with the federal government. Later, following litigation, a large settlement was paid to her, acknowledging that her firing had been improper. Unable to move about in public without cruel taunting, she subjected herself to a weight loss regimen and plastic surgery, to drastically change her appearance. The costs of this were reportedly borne by sympathizers, probably motivated by their animus toward Bill Clinton. Linda Tripp subsequently developed, and then recovered from, cancer.

 

Presidential aide James Carville added to his fame and reputation by relentlessly demonizing Linda Tripp. So far, no Republican equivalent of James Carville attack—dog tactics has appeared.

 

For some small things, we can be grateful.

Democrats, it would seem, have developed a sudden new sense of protectiveness for those who tell tales out of school. Anyone who remembers the name Linda Tripp cannot help but be amused at the Democrats rushing forward to decry the 'trashing' of Richard Clarke. Where were these same Democrats when Linda Tripp was vilified on a daily basis?

 

It is worth taking a few moments to consider the two cases in a comparative light.

 

Alleged Offense

 

Clarke broke with over two hundred years of tradition, and revealed the national security deliberations of professional non—political career civil service advisers to the President and his chief aides. In doing so, he ensured that future Presidents will never be able to rely on their staff to respect the confidentiality previous Presidents of both parties have enjoyed. Certain views or potential courses of action may unexpressed, as a result of the threat of future publicity from a tell—tale aide. Clarke also reportedly contradicted previous (so far secret) testimony and background briefings he previously provided. Claims in his book have also been found to be at variance with the facts.

 

Tripp was asked by Monica Lewinsky to perjure herself, so as to protect their former boss, Bill Clinton, from the discovery of his sexual dalliance with a young woman entrusted to his care as an intern. To avoid being set up as a fall—guy, Tripp prudently tape recorded telephone calls from Lewinsky, who had attempted to suborn perjury. She thus 'betrayed' the 'friendship' of someone who wanted her to commit a felony to benefit the 'friend.'

 

Nature of Criticism

 

Clarke's writings and testimony before the 9/11 Commission have been subjected to comparison with his previous writings and testimony, some of which have been, or have been proposed to be, newly declassified or released. Clarke's motivation in writing his book has been questioned, in that his publisher has launched one of the most successful and highly—coordinated publicity campaigns in publishing history, encompassing moving the timing of publication to match his 9/11 Commission testimony, and tying—in sister company CBS's premier showcase venue, Sixty Minutes. Clarke stands to earn a million dollars or more. He has, in response, promised to donate an unspecified 'portion' of his earnings to the families of 9/11 victims and military survivors of the Afghan campaign. The most partisan critics of Clarke have gone so far as to call him a backstabber, betrayer, and disloyal.

 

Linda Tripp was also called a backstabber, betrayer, and disloyal. Her tape recordings spoke for themselves, and were uncontradicted. Tripp was accused of wanting to profit from a book, allegedly being 'in it for the money,' although no book was ever proposed, written, or published. Additionally, Tripp's morality, weight, and personal appearance were savagely ridiculed. John Goodman, a portly male actor, donned a dress and mocked her appearance and her very femininity on Saturday Night Live, on a regular basis.

 

Consequences

Clarke has dominated the past week's news, and his charges have been respectfully reported by nearly all of the major media. Only some of the media have subjected his charges to comparison with his earlier testimony and backgrounder views. There have been no reports of Clarke's pension or retirement benefits being challenged. The size of Clarke's advance from his publisher and his potential profits from his book have only today been revealed in a leak to Drudge. Clarke's close connection to John Kerry's foreign policy advisor (the two men jointly teach a course at Harvard's Kennedy School) has been barely noted, and is not the subject of daily commentary in most of the press.

 

No ridicule of Clarke's appearance, weight, or masculinity has so far come to our attention. If Saturday Night Live has plans to hire Roseanne Barr or some other fat comedienne to mock Clarke's weight, appearance, and masculinity, no publicity has yet been generated for the comedic festivities.

 

Linda Tripp was fired from her job with the federal government. Later, following litigation, a large settlement was paid to her, acknowledging that her firing had been improper. Unable to move about in public without cruel taunting, she subjected herself to a weight loss regimen and plastic surgery, to drastically change her appearance. The costs of this were reportedly borne by sympathizers, probably motivated by their animus toward Bill Clinton. Linda Tripp subsequently developed, and then recovered from, cancer.

 

Presidential aide James Carville added to his fame and reputation by relentlessly demonizing Linda Tripp. So far, no Republican equivalent of James Carville attack—dog tactics has appeared.

 

For some small things, we can be grateful.