I'm fairly confident that President Clinton's legacy is secure; it's Paula's that shot. This will cause no one to doubt Paula's credibility, but it does put a new spin on the kind of girl she is.
Of the three "elves" who worked on Paula's case secretly and entirely pro bono, I'm the only one ever who talked to her, and talked to her for hours and hours in order to help draft her responses to interrogatories. I completely believed she was the good Christian girl she made herself out to be in the press. I was doing this not just to expose Clinton, but for her.
Paula was my Rosa Parks. Here was this totally powerless nothing -- no money, no status, no family connections, no Ivy League education, no important friends, no fabulous great looks, no worldly accomplishments. Just a nobody who had dignity and self-respect taking on the most powerful man in the universe.
You may not recall -- Paula's new friends at Penthouse and other liberal media used to continually brush over this point -- but the catalyst for her suit was an Arkansas state trooper's claim in a national magazine that Paula had performed a sexual act on then-governor Clinton in a hotel suite. When this appeared, she quickly declared that the governor had in fact asked, but she had declined. She demanded an apology from Clinton to prove it. When he refused to apologize, she filed suit to get her reputation back.
That's what she said anyway, to the entire world, over and over again, in numerous interviews and press statements. Indeed, she was unwavering on this point. Paula may not remember that once her reputation mattered more to her than money, but there are hundreds of articles and television transcripts in the public record confirming this fact.
Her interview with ABC's Sam Donaldson soon after her suit was filed in 1994 is typical. She said: "The reason I filed a complaint is because I asked for an apology and I didn't get an apology, and instead he called me pathetic and a liar. And I felt that to get my reputation back and to do what's right, and to get my good name back, I had to file a suit against him."
Not only that, but she insisted money was not the point, telling Donaldson (among others): "(I)f there's any money whatsoever left over after the legal expenses are paid, that will go to a charity."
So I don't know. It's crazy, but, along with a lot of people, her lawyers might well have misunderstood the fact that she doesn't give a damn about her reputation and just wanted the money. That's what she's recently taken to the airwaves to proclaim, anyway.
She says she had to throw her reputation away because she needs the money to pay for her children's college education. (They are now 4 and 8 years old.) Perhaps someday that will compensate them for having a mother who's a Penthouse centerfold.
Not only that, but she is denouncing her lawyers for leaving her "only" $151,000 of an $850,000 settlement. Now I always thought it was idiotic for people to chide Paula for demanding money damages for what Clinton did to her. That's how we settle disputes in this country. No duels, no firstborn, no involuntary servitude -- you commit a civil wrong, you pay money. Still, it was Paula who repeatedly renounced any interest in the money.
So what happened to that charity?
Paula surely was given more than a million dollars in free legal assistance from an array of legal talent she will never again encounter in her life, much less have busily working on her behalf. Some of those lawyers never asked for or received a dime for hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal work performed at great professional, financial and personal cost to themselves. Others got partial payments out of the settlement. But at least they got her reputation back.
And now she's thrown it away.
Throughout the Clinton sex saga, everyone kept saying, "There are no heroes in this story," which was completely wrong -- if Paula had been what she claimed to be. She used to be a hero in a David and Goliath conflict. She used to have dignity and nobility and tremendous courage. Now she's just the trailer-park trash they said she was.