(That much has been said and shown on prime-time TV. The Clinton era has led to new self-censorship standards in a lot of areas.)
The World's Smartest Woman did NOT respond to the charges by saying: "I might well have said that, but those obviously aren't my feelings. People sometimes use ugly, vicious curses when they're angry. I'm sorry if I used those, but please judge me by my record and not some childish tantrum I threw 26 years ago."
No, what Hillary said was that it was a lie put out by her political opponents -- presumably the dastardly "vast right-wing conspiracy" at work again. I quote:
"You know, there's a history of these kinds of charges coming from the people in question (author's note: all eventually proved true, even if it took a full federal investigation), and they've been false in the past." (Author's note: Only the denials, the excuses and the defamatory charges against the Clintons' accusers have turned out to be "false.") "They're false now." (Author's note: That's what she said the last time.) "And I don't know what the reason behind it is, but it didn't happen."
For the record, I did not go ballistic over some dumb baseball player's printable remarks to Sports Illustrated. I thought that O.J. cutting off Nicole Brown Simpson's head was somewhat more egregious than Mark Fuhrman using the N-word. But even stipulating that the charges aren't that terrible -- Hillary has a potty mouth -- she's the one who has now put the veracity of the charge at issue. Did she or didn't she say it?
The most persuasive evidence that Hillary said it, of course, is that she denies having said it. And if that's not enough for you, America's most famous perjurer, President William Jefferson Clinton, backs her up.
The New York Times ran its lead editorial on Hillary's "current complication" -- as the paper called her anti-Semitic slur -- and titled it, "Mrs. Clinton's Credible Response." The Times cited as evidence in Hillary's favor that she opposed the Vietnam War and tried to get President Nixon impeached. (This is normal NYT logic.)
But even weirder, the editorial sportingly stressed that Ms. Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy gave "a passionate, almost teary response to the allegation of anti-Semitic language." Huh? A Clinton denial is supposed to mean something now?
When did we make this seamless transition from treating a Clinton denial -- subsequently discredited or retracted -- as just so much necessary political filler (because "anyone would have lied in those circumstances") to suddenly becoming truth, because the Clintons said it? Wouldn't anyone have lied about using the phrase "f-ing Jew bastard," too -- particularly if that anyone was running for a Senate seat from New York?
Why do we have to keep considering each successive denial by the Clintons as if the press corps, pundits and American people have a collective case of amnesia? It's like an eerie "Twilight Zone" episode in which no one can remember what happened yesterday.
Moreover, it's not as if Tipper Gore stands accused. This is Hillary. Hillary of the lamp-throwing temper and f-word profanity. (Neither Hillary nor her husband questioned that she had used the phrase "f-ing bastard," only that she would have identified the ethnicity of the f-ing bastard. Even when she's throwing lamps and cursing like a sailor, she's ethnically sensitive.)
This is Hillary, whose warm Southern charm was widely credited with costing her husband his second race for the Arkansas governorship and whose concern for the little guy resulted in the travel office bloodbath.
In addition, there are three witnesses to this particular charming utterance: Paul Fray, the campaign manager of Clinton's failed 1974 congressional bid and the target of the slur; Fray's wife, Mary Lee, who was in the room at the time; and a third campaign worker, Neil McDonald, who was standing outside the room. (Fray's wife said Hillary shouted so loudly that "it rattled the walls.")
Other witnesses, from Dick Morris to the Arkansas state troopers, corroborate similar statements from the Dragon Lady. If you can break free from the collective case of "Twilight Zone" amnesia for a moment, you will recall that the troopers have been completely vindicated on even their most bizarre charges against the Clintons. It goes without saying, their track records on truth-telling are somewhat more impressive than America's Most Famous Perjurer and his wife.