Dr. Strangelove in the White House
By Christopher Hitchens | August 24, 2000

No One Left to Lie To:
The Triangulation of William Jefferson Clinton
by Christopher Hitchens
160 pp., Verso Books, $10

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS was the guest speaker at our Wednesday Morning Club
luncheon last week. The relentless Clinton critic and author of No One Left to
Lie To lashed into the Clinton regime before an appreciative audience of
Hollywood conservatives at the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel. Here is a full
transcript of his remarks.

Introduction by Ann Coulter

Thank you. It’s an honor to introduce Christopher Hitchens. I actually wasn’t
prepared for this. I’m just Chris’s stalker. I just show up wherever he’s
speaking, because he’ll call the President a rapist, and that always perks me

I don’t actually have any biographical information for you, but I know he
writes for Vanity Fair, and he exposed the President not only as a rapist but a
murderer in the bombing of the aspirin factory and many other foreigners that
Clinton was willing to kill in order to distract from his personal problems. I
will say that the first time I met Christopher Hitchens was not when we were
smoking in a non-smoking area - though we’ve done that a lot. We were supposed
to be having a debate. I attacked Clinton from the right, then he stood up and
attacked Clinton from the left. So I thought it was a really, really excellent
debate. But I really don’t think you want to hear any more from me. Let me
introduce the wonderful Christopher Hitchens.


Remarks by Christopher Hitchens

Thank you very much, Ann, and thank you very much David [Horowitz].

I’m here to try to make trouble for the Democratic Convention. I was at the
independent media center for the “Shadow Convention” last night when the forces
of law and order came to close it down and the riot police came to move people
out of the building on the spurious pretext that there was a bomb scare. We
didn’t get to make our point against the platform. And for a while out there on
the streets, it looked quite crunchy and tasty and promising and menacing. I’m
in favor of polarization and always have been. There was something rather meek,
still, about the liberals in the crowd. I remember thinking, “What we need here
is a couple of hardened street fighters.” And I thought, “I wish I had
Horowitz’s cell phone number at that exact moment.” Strange how these things
come to you.

I have the sensation that at a meeting like this, people come with the
intention of speaking as well as listening. So I’ll condense, as best I can,
what I have to say, and then we’ll be together.

We have an eyewitness account of Benjamin Franklin leaving the meeting at
Philadelphia, where the Constitutional discussions were concluded. And as he
came out into the street, an old lady with the last name Griffith - it was
certainly a Welsh name - came up to him and said, “Well doctor, what have you
given us?” And Franklin turned to her and said, “Madam, we have given you a
republic - if you can keep it.

Now, I don’t know how many of you watched the speech last night, but I watched
it twice because an addiction to polarization is an indicator - the leading
indicator - of masochism. And I thought, “Yes, I know what kind of republic
this is. It’s a banana republic.

You have to recall to your minds that fair, complacent, contented face - the
face that says, “I got away with the whole thing and there’s nothing you can do
about it.” And he’s reading to you - I don’t know if it reminds me more of Huey
Long or George Orwell - but it is said of Huey Long that when he first
meditated his campaign for running, he called all the fat cats of his state
together and said, “Those who come in with me now will get big pieces of pie.
Those of you who delay and come in later, you get smaller pieces of pie. Those
of you who do not come in at all will get… good government. Fine government.”

Well, there’s the implicit moral blackmail of that, and then of course, there’s
the 1984 moment where the audience listens helplessly while the radio produces
endless statistics about how everybody’s life is better all the time. Idiotic
statistics about greater prosperity, greater production, greater fulfillment of
norms. Everything. Women will soon cease to menstruate, there’ll be five crops
a year, and we’re on the road to conquering all known diseases. We have a
happiness pill already in production, and you’re supposed to listen and be
grateful to the government for its ceaseless work on your behalf.

There’s always a sinister downside to the reeling off of statistics like that
by the great leader, from whom all blessings flow, the fountainhead of all this
prosperity which he’s done nothing himself to generate -- in fact, having done,
to my knowledge, not a day’s work in his entire life. And having no skills,
except the obvious ones of the huckster, there’s a sinister implication to
this. That is that, given that this cornucopia, this Niagara of blessings and
prosperity is being showered upon you by the agency of your Federal Government
and its plump spokesman, you should be grateful enough to not ask too many
questions. That’s the sinister downside of these idiotic implications of
prosperity and happiness, this Brave New World.

One of the legacies of Clintonism is that a large number of our citizens, I
fear, have become accustomed to the idea of saying, “Yes, you may be right
about, say, the rule of law” - just to take an example at random, which appears
to be extensively trampled - “but the Dow Jones is doing pretty well.” Now,
that’s a legacy of a sort. The question is what Dr. Franklin and Mrs. Griffith
would have thought about such a tradeoff - especially in a country where you
can’t be forced to make such a tradeoff, and in point of fact, you can have
democracy and the rule of law, and still enjoy the fruits of your own labor
without presidential permission. But the syllogism doesn’t quite run that way.
Or does it?

Now among the people who work hard and play by the rules - of whom, I’m sure,
no one here would exempt themselves - let me ask you to consider two people who
have had a real share in this cornucopia of prosperity whose names were not
mentioned last night and whose names will not be mentioned all this week: James
Riady and Roger Tamrez. Mr. James Riady is the front man for the Indonesian
dictatorship and also for the Chinese military-industrial complex. We don’t
know anything like enough about him, and we hope and I intend to find out a lot
more. But I can tell you two things about him right now. One: he has no vote in
any United States election, not being a citizen. The second thing is that he
easily outvotes all of you in this room and all your families and all your
friends. He has far more political power than you do. He outvotes you all the
time. That’s because he can meet President Clinton in the back of a limousine
and hand him a personal check, which he did, to the sum of perhaps a million
and a half - maybe more - dollars.

Some of Mr. Riady’s generosity was also showered on Mr. Webster Hubbell, Mr.
Clinton’s choice - after all, he wanted a Cabinet that looked “more like
America” - for the post of Deputy Attorney General. Is your image of America a
place where the Justice Department is run by Webster Hubbell? I don’t know. It
wouldn’t be mine. The sweepings of the criminal class in Arkansas are promoted
to the Department of Justice. And the man is hardly in town before he’s going
straight to jail. It’s an indoor record for a Deputy Attorney General to go to

As a jailbird, he’s not much good as anybody’s legal advisor. Let’s stipulate
that as uncontroversial. But he might be induced, perhaps, to testify against
his boss. So on the very day that he’s going to jail, he receives a very large
subvention of money retaining his legal services from Mr. James Riady who, two
days ago, met the President in the Oval Office-the center of your democracy.
The ventricle chamber of the heart of your democracy, the presidency. Now it’s
considered a “private question” where events that go on in it are “matters of
privacy.” Let that pass. At that meeting, Mr. Clinton meets Mr. Riady. Mr.
Riady then gives Mr. Hubbell lots of money. Mr. Hubbell then goes to jail and
keeps his mouth shut. Mr. Hubbell’s telephone conversations from jail are
legally monitored and he’s heard to say, “I guess I’ll have to roll over one
more time.”

This is a banana republic, ladies and gentlemen, comrades and friends. The
Mexican electorate has stopped putting up with this kind of thing. And they’ve
stopped putting up with it, by the way, because they’re more prosperous. So the
argument that prosperity means you should keep your mouth shut and still your
critical faculties is an even more degenerated one than looks at first sight.
So there’s Mr. Riady, and when Mr. Clinton is asked by Justice Department
investigators last month, “You met Mr. Riady and you took a large check from

“Yes I did.”
“What was it for?”
“I don’t remember.”
“You met him again in the Oval Office. Wasn’t that the case?”
“Yes I did.”
“Do you remember what you talked about?”
“No, I have no recollection of the subject of the conversation.”
“You accept that Mr. Riady gave a large sum to Webster Hubbell the following
“Yes, That I now understand to be true.”
“Was there anything in your conversation that might have led Mr. Riady to have
made this donation?”
“I have no recollection of that, Your Honor.”

This is Mr. Briefing Book, Mr. Details now. The man who knows every clause of
the Family and Medical Leave Act. A man of very potent recall has acquired
amnesia syndrome when these matters come up. This too, and the insult that’s
implied in it to those who have to listen these answers, are the signs and
symptoms of a banana republic.

Now Mr. Tamrez I needn’t waste much time on. He’s a man who, in the Lebanese
business community, is slightly [unintelligible]. [Laughter] And I mean no slur
on the Levantines, of whom are a number of my friends. But the Beirut business
community has, in the past - their Chamber of Commerce, let’s say - has often
been forced to blush at its own excesses. Roger Tamrez is thought of as a rank
outsider in those circles. We have a video of him turning up also in the White
House-in a public room of the White House, in the Map Room of the White House.
We don’t know if he could ever afford the rent for the Lincoln Bedroom. But we
do know that unmarried couples were not allowed to use the Lincoln Bedroom
because, after all, this is an ethical administration, possibly the most moral
one, in fact, in history. But he said he got into the Map Room for a White
House coffee, and the video tape shows him greeting the President and the
President saying, “Nice to see you again, Mr. Tamrez.” Suddenly the memory is
terrifically good.

He knows him right away and knows what name to call him and knows that they’ve
met before. Which means he’s met him at least twice, which was more times than
Mr. Clinton met with his cabinet that year. He only met his cabinet twice: once
to lie to them about Monica Lewinsky, and send them out into the Streets. Miss
Albright, Mr. Gore, all of them, every one of them with no resignation, no
protest and no demur, out into the street to bleat like sheep the party line
and to disgrace themselves, and yes, to make it look like a banana republic.
That was the first meeting of his cabinet that year. The second was a few
months later to tell them, “Sorry about that. We’re having to modify the line.
Now, I lied, but I’m a victim of a right-wing conspiracy.” And you know what?
They swallowed that too. And nobody resigned. And nobody walked. There isn’t a
single person left, therefore, in this administration - and that includes the
top of its ticket - who can claim to look on you, or at you, or should be
allowed to address you with a shred of self-respect or pride or manhood about
them. These are people who have lowered themselves, disgraced themselves - for
nothing - and who now dare to come before you as “reformers.” This is not
conscionable. And though, of course I like it when you laugh, I hope you may at
least consider weeping or puking as well.

I go back a long way with this. I covered Mr. Clinton during the New Hampshire
primary in 1992, and I formed the opinion then - and wrote and published the
opinion then - that there was something monstrous about him, that it was not
true that you just had to expect a certain amount of corruption and deceit and
mendacity and ruthlessness and want of scruple from any candidate. Everyone is
familiarized by now to that idea. We’re all encouraged -- as citizens of a
banana republic, as we are -- to think “They all do it.” That, by the way, is a
banana republic by definition. Members of the male sex in this audience are
encouraged to believe and are told all the time by the media that they’re all
the same when it comes to women. But any man who can look at Bill Clinton and
say, “Yeah, we’re all like that” is degrading himself and abandoning his self-
respect. It’s an insult to be told that everybody’s like this. There wouldn’t
be a woman left standing in America if it were true, of course, but there are
other reasons to know it’s not. There are reasons in your own dignity to know
that that’s a degrading thing to let go unanswered.


So I thought, “Well this guy, I can prove, is unusually squalid about money,
unusually nasty about women, and unusually - unusually - committed to lying,
even when the truth would do - which by the way, is a bad sign: the sign of a
pathological liar. So that’s what I thought of him in New Hampshire. And you
know what? I haven’t had to take back a word of what I said then. And I have to
say this for myself, because I don’t have a witness to say it for me - I could
find one - but the other members of my profession wouldn’t want to read what
they were writing about the New Democrat, “Morning in America,” “A Fresh, New
Approach,” “the liberated and open culture of the 1960s at last gets its
chance.” They didn’t know what they were getting, some of them. But some of
them did, and they just wrote the party line story.

Why did I think, potentially, that he was monstrous? It’s a mistake, often, to
say “I’ve got three points,” because then people start counting as you make
them. And then they don’t just start looking at their watches, but start
shaking them. So I know I’m taking a bit of a risk, but I will give you three
reasons why this President is not like all the rest, hasn’t been like all the
rest, why his legacy, therefore won’t be like all the rest.

The first one is this: Faced with the lies that he had told about a woman who
loved him named Gennifer Flowers, who he’s since had grudgingly to admit under
intense legal pressure to one sexual contact with - not knowing, incidentally
that it’s the height of bad manners to sleep with someone only once - that
admission was grudgingly rung from him. He lying about all that and trashing
her. He doesn’t just lie about the encounter. He has to lie about the women.
The women have to be trashed. This is not what all men do. This is not what all
men do. If men will lie about a sexual indiscretion - if I can say it without
having too stormy a rebuttal - it should be partly to protect the lady. At
least partly. And that’s part of what a gentleman may be said to do. You don’t
do that by trashing the woman herself - saying she’s a gold-digger, a liar, a
slut, and the rest of the business.

Anyway, caught this way, and sinking in the opinion polls, he flew back to
Arkansas, his home state - itself a micro-banana republic - and plucked from
death row a mentally disabled and retarded black defendant named Ricky Ray
Rector and snuffed him - to show that he, Clinton, could be tough, and was a
hands-on guy, and was not a bleeding heart. Now, I could have devoted my entire
speech to an account of what happened to Mr. Rector and how people in the
Arkansas prison system resigned over what happened. And I could harrow up your
soul and freeze your blood in telling you how revolting that episode was. But
suffice it to ask this: Can you imagine what would have happened to a
conservative Republican governor who, in the middle of a tough race, had
decided to snuff a mentally retarded black defendant? Yeah, you can. Ricky Ray
Rector’s name, which is not a very widely known name, would be known to all of
you. You wouldn’t be able not to hear it. And rightly so. I noticed that did
not happen. The other thing I noticed with alarm was that the liberal
intellectuals and journalists and academics who would normally make the running
on such a thing had decided to keep quiet - had made a deal, made a pact, had,
in effect, sold their principles already to a politician of unusual
ruthlessness and unscrupulousness. And that was a lesson worth learning back
then, because it prepared me for what was coming down the track.

The second reason why I think Mr. Clinton is an unusual and potentially
monstrous politician is the incident that Ann briefly mentioned and I’ve
written about at great length in my book is the decision to destroy a
pharmaceutical plant on the outskirts of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan on the
day before Monica Lewinsky returned to the Grand Jury. Again, I could harrow up
your soul and freeze your blood by giving you the full details of that. I can
give them to you for ten dollars even. [Laughter] But I can tell you also - and
Washington now does not dispute it: I had a very tough series of arguments with
people at the time, but now it has all gone away. They’ve folded, they know
that was “Wag the Dog.” People from the National Security Council, people from
the CIA, from the State Department, the Defense Department have all come
forward to testify that everybody knew at the time that was a bogus target. It
was, in fact, the only plant making medicine in the whole of that benighted
country. So the number of people who died to save that beautiful face, that
gorgeous face - who’s got a copy of my book - someone hold one up - [shows
book] THAT face - how many people do you say should die to save that face? Or
the one next to it? So that’s what you are asked to do, ladies and gentlemen.
That’s what he believes you would do. That’s what he believed he could get from
you. He thought he could get - from you -- a bounce in the polls by killing
people to save his face.

Now listen: I was as critical as many people and maybe more than some about
Ronald Reagan’s gunboat diplomacy in Beirut and even Grenada. But when you said
the worst you could say about that, you could not say that Ronald Reagan had
committed the armed forces of his country and used cruise missiles against
civilians and civilian targets because he recently had had a row with Nancy. In
other words, this was a Strangelove moment. This was the moment all the liberal
intellectuals had been ready for since Stanley Kubrick first began using
celluloid. The Strangelove moment had come. It had really happened. A President
had really, in a psycho manner, deployed the armed forces of his country and
been prepared to shed blood, for his own face and his own distraught
personality. But where were the people who would normally find such a thing so
funny? Or so apt? Or so ironic? Once again, the whole of that community of
ironic intellectuals and liberal commentators and investigative journalists was
completely silent and complicit. And once again, it had been shown, as with
Flowers and Rector that there’s something really unpleasant in the mind of this
man: some really revolting, deep, reptilian connection between sex and death -
it’s no exaggeration to say. This is twice now that he’s snuffed people to
cover the filth of his sex life. This is an extraordinary thing. This has never
happened before in the history of the United States.

Nor has my third and closing example. Al Gore was asked in New Hampshire at a
Town Hall meeting during the primary by a woman - a civilian, a volunteer, a
voter named Katherine Prudhomme - a question that has never been asked before
in the history of the republic: “Mr. Vice President, is there a rapist in the
Oval Office?” Is there a rapist in the Oval Office? Katherine Prudhomme would
be very impressed by the taped, transmitted testimony of Juanita Broaddrick who
claims, in my opinion, completely convincingly, to have been raped by the then-
Attorney General of Arkansas. I have in my book two other women who had exactly
similar experiences with him. They have in common with Juanita Broaddrick
several things. One, they’re liberal Democrats. Two, they’re political
supporters of the President. Three, all have since, are happily married with
children and wish to keep it as far as possible a secret - none of them wanting
a book contract, none of them wanting any money, none of them wanting any
reward, none of them wanting any publicity, all of them reporting the same
tactics: being battered and bitten hard on the face in order to secure their
compliance. When I see Clinton biting his own fat lip, I think that’s bad
enough. When I think of him sinking his teeth into a woman’s lip and telling
her, “Bitch, be quiet,” then I think a country that puts up with it is in some
kind of desperate trouble. A culture that turns away from the stories of these
women is in real trouble.

All of this was done in plain sight; all of it, or most of it in the evidence
room during the President’s trial. Not one Democrat went to see it. Not one
Congressman went to visit that evidence room. Not the ethicist Mr. Lieberman.
Not the moral prince and moral tutor from Connecticut. [He] didn’t go and look
at the evidence on Juanita Broaddrick.

We have to ask ourselves what it is that makes people want to look away,
because it’s been a very skillful legacy - a very skillful mixture and mingling
of three or four volatile and contradictory ingredients: A great alliance
between privatized, corporate-based political corruption, combined with a very
careful use of political correctness as a defense. Quite an ingenious
combination. Mention the donations that have come from shady sources in China,
and you are told from the White House, “Well, we don’t want any Asian-bashing.”
I have the memo from the DNC that says “Democratic National Committee Official
Memo” - they didn’t think I’d get it - “If this comes up, say people are Asian-
bashing.” That’s the standard routine. If feminists thought of squeaking about
the rape questions and the harassment matter - not that many of them did - you
can say, “Well you owe us, darling, because you might not be able to get your
next abortion without me.” It’s a tradeoff of a kind. It’s an appeal to
correctness of a sort. And then, when all else fails, and when practically all
else had, you claim that the President is black. Which, I had to admit, I
wasn’t ready for when it first happened, but I realized that, having covered
Mayor Marion Barry in my home town of Washington for four years before that
happened, I was ready for it. On the understanding that he is Marion Barry, I
am ready to concede that the President is an African-American. But I’m very
amazed that anyone else would want to insult and degrade our African-American
brothers and sisters to that extent.

So, it’s this mixture of lying and of corruption and of bullying and
intimidation of witnesses, and the circumventing of the rule of law, and the
willingness of those who defy those who tried to investigate it, that did take
a Protean character-obviously someone of almost psychopathic, almost sinister
skills in deception of others and in self-deception. Now we have a situation
where here’s the legacy: the next bad president will be able to claim that if
Wall Street is up, he has a Dow Jones defense. If the opinion polls can be
manipulated - and by the way, I believe they can. Has anyone here ever been
questioned about a presidential approval rating? No. Does anyone know anyone
who has? I do this everywhere I go, and haven’t met anyone yet. I think the
polls can be fixed. Suppose they can. You have an opinion poll defense. You
have a privacy defense if you’re a bad president and you can include in your
list of crimes -- crimes against the opposite sex or indeed, your own, if
they’re sexual crimes - they’re “private.” And the Special Council Law has been
destroyed, so there’ll be no other means of getting after this sort of thing.
What you’ve been left with as a legacy is not just the memory of eight years of
banana republican government, but the institutionalizing of those techniques of
manipulation, those techniques of distortion, and corruption for the
foreseeable future.

It’s time to reconsider what it means to have a republic - if you can keep it.

© 2000


Integrity has no need of rules. -Albert Camus (1913-1960)
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking
new landscapes but in having new eyes. -Marcel Proust
The libertarian therefore considers one of his prime educational
tasks is to spread the demystification and desanctification of the
State among its hapless subjects.  His task is to demonstrate
repeatedly and in depth that not only the emperor but even the
"democratic" State has no clothes; that all governments subsist
by exploitive rule over the public; and that such rule is the reverse
of objective necessity.  He strives to show that the existence of
taxation and the State necessarily sets up a class division between
the exploiting rulers and the exploited ruled.  He seeks to show that
the task of the court intellectuals who have always supported the State
has ever been to weave mystification in order to induce the public to
accept State rule and that these intellectuals obtain, in return, a
share in the power and pelf extracted by the rulers from their deluded
[[For a New Liberty:  The Libertarian Manifesto, Murray N. Rothbard,
Fox & Wilkes, 1973, 1978, p. 25]]

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