Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Lie That Refuses To Die: Hillary Was Fired From The Watergate Committee (!!!)

Hillary Clinton with Michael Caine and Robert Duvall.  Uh, check that . . .   
Back before there were iPhones, iPads or iAnythings, I used to keep notes and clippings on the big stories I covered in specially designated ring binders for quick and easy reference.   One such binder was for the Clinton impeachment circus in 1998, which I was assigned to cover as punishment for the terrific job I had done writing about the O.J. Simpson murders and trial. 
I slid a copy of the image above under the plastic cover of my Clinton impeachment binder as part joke and part reminder. The joke was that the gentlemen flanking the young Yale Law School grad in the 1973 photograph of the House Judiciary Committee in recess during its investigation of the Watergate break-in and other Nixonian crimes looked an awful lot like two famous movie actors.  And that 15 years later, the wife of the president who "did not have sex with that woman" was the target of a vicious right-wing smear campaign that included, among other blatantly false allegations, that she had murdered Vince Foster, the deputy White House counsel, and had been fired from the Watergate Committee for being a liar.   
Both lies have had long and fruitful lives.  The Foster lie was the centerpiece of one of the Republican National Convention speeches the other day and the Watergate lie was oft mentioned by the more feckless of Bernie Sanders's young acolytes. 
Rush Limbaugh (can you imagine?) got the Watergate lie going, but it picked up real steam in 2008 when Hillary Clinton first ran for president when conservative hack columnist Dan Calabrese referenced a book written by Jerome Zeifman, who was chief counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, which was to initiate impeachment proceedings, not the better known Senate Watergate Committee chaired by Sam Ervin. 
Clinton, then 26 and still a Rodham, had been hired by the committee led by Peter Rodino, and as Zeifman wrote in The Impeachment of President Nixon and the Crimes of Camelot, his semi-titillating 1998 book, he took a shine to young Rodham until he found out that she was collaborating with aides loyal to Senator Ted Kennedy who were trying to quash the Watergate investigation out of fear that Nixon would retaliate by exposing "the crimes of Camelot."  Rodham, according to Zeifman, was conspiring to deny the president legal counsel, and he wrote that as a result he fired her for "unethical" and "dishonest" conduct.
While Zeifman's account had the faint ring of fact, it was flat-out fiction.  Zeifman could not have fired Clinton even if he had wanted to.  He didn't have the authority, as she reported to others, while the Kennedy conspiracy was hogwash.   
Finally, Zeifman's contention that Rodham alone could have denied Nixon counsel is laughable -- even if it has been believed by generations of Hillary haters.

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