Why Is No One Talking About FX’s 'Impeachment' Series?

Now that I am seven episodes in, I feel confident saying that “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” airing Tuesday evenings on FX, is the fairest and arguably the best real-life political drama Hollywood has ever produced.  What mystifies me is that no one on the Right appears to be talking about it.

The third in the “American Crime Story” series, this 10-part drama faithfully tracks the perjury and obstruction of justice scandal that very nearly ended the Bill Clinton presidency. While the first two in the series -- “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” and “Versace” -- dealt candidly with the issues of race and homosexuality, “Impeachment” takes candor a step further and deconstructs the Left’s revisionist history of Bill Clinton’s “sex” scandal.

The Bill Clinton character, served up with equal parts charm and menace by British actor Clive Owen, is something of a monster. When Paula Jones, played with minimal condescension by Annaleigh Ashford, testifies that Clinton exposed himself we believe her, not him. Her vivid description of Clinton’s royal member will not please the ex-president.

It is only in the seventh episode that the Hillary Clinton character, played -- unconvincingly, alas -- by Edie Falco of “Sopranos” fame emerges from the shadows. Although it is too early to tell, my guess is that Hillary will not like the portrait of herself as cold and controlling. That said, I expect the producers to pull their punches when it comes to revealing Hillary’s role in quelling the “bimbo eruptions” that threatened Clinton’s political career from the get-go.

Those “bimbos” -- the Clinton term, not mine -- include not just Paula Jones, but sexual assault victims such as Elizabeth Ward Gracen and Juanita Broaddrick, the latter of whom Clinton raped. (Viewers see Broaddrick briefly once in an early episode but will not see her again.)  When Bill ran for president in 1992, Hillary was instrumental in hiring private investigators to bribe and/or threaten these women into silence.

Said Sally Perdue, a former Miss Arkansas and Clinton paramour, "[The PI] said that there were people in high places who were anxious about me and they wanted me to know that keeping my mouth shut would be worthwhile.” As Perdue explained, “Worthwhile” meant a GS-11 or higher job with the federal government.  If she rejected the offer and talked to the media, “He couldn't guarantee what would happen to my pretty little legs.” My guess is that the Hillary in “Impeachment” will get to play dumb about all of this.

The conservatives involved in Clinton’s undoing generally come off better in “Impeachment” than they did in the media of that era. Far from being a sex-crazed inquisitor, the Ken Starr character shies from even talking about sex, let alone pursuing Clinton on sex-related charges.

Starr deputy Mike Emmick, played by Colin Hanks, Tom’s son, comes across as thoughtful and considerate in his handling of Monica Lewinsky. The Ann Coulter and Lucianne Goldberg characters compensate for their manipulative bitchiness with some really shrewd one-liners. I suspect that each of the two will like the way she is portrayed.

The Monica we meet in “Impeachment,” played here by Beanie Feldstein, is the Monica the media gave us in 1998 -- spoiled, self-absorbed, delusional, and ripe for the plucking. Unanswered here, as everywhere, is the question of whether a 22-year-old woman should be held responsible for her own behavior. In that Monica was involved in the production, the producers give her a pass and give us a zaftig mass of child-woman badly in need of her mommy, more victim than vixen. 

The real surprise of “Impeachment” is how the producers portray Linda Tripp. As Tripp learned the hard way, there is no such thing as a “whistleblower” with a Democrat in the White House. There are only traitors and snitches. The media of that era encouraged their audiences to hiss at the very mention of her name. With Hillary’s active encouragement, they drove Tripp’s approval rating down to the low teens.  

Tripp died of cancer a year ago, largely forgotten and unredeemed. She never did get a book deal, never told her side of the story. “Impeachment” tells that story for her. As the last known witness to see White House counsel Vince Foster alive, Tripp rejects rumors he was murdered, but she does question the illicit purging of his office files upon Foster’s presumed suicide.  She also discounts Kathleen Willey’s tale of being molested by Clinton. Of the women involved, Willey will least appreciate the way she is depicted.

Exiled to the Pentagon, quite possibly because she knew too much, Tripp meets fellow exile Monica Lewinsky.  She has a mix of motives for “betraying” her friendship with the blubbering Lewinsky. Betrayal or not, had a woman with comparable motives done the same to bust a Brett Kavanaugh or a Clarence Thomas, let alone a Donald Trump, the media would have celebrated her.

In 1998, Tripp was seen less as an Anita Hill than as a Cruella de Ville. In “Impeachment,” she is something other -- a tough, calculating divorcé whose deserved contempt for Clinton overrides whatever feigned loyalty she has to Lewinsky. Instead of being treated as a heroine, however, Tripp finds herself with her adolescent children watching as the heavyweight John Goodman plays her for laughs on Saturday Night Live.

The producers know that what the media did to Tripp was wrong. Actress and co-producer Sarah Paulson (Marcia Clark in the OJ saga) corrects the record. If the voters can let go of their Clinton worship, she will win an Emmy for her portrayal.

Jack Cashill’s latest book, Barack Obama’s Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply, is now on sale. See www.cashill.com for more information.

Image: FX

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