Six years ago, the national drama revolved around a heavily investigated leader, his allegedly partisan prosecutor, and the media's fervent desire to save the leader from the prosecutor by hailing the leader as essential to the country and demeaning the prosecutor as a sleazy menace.
That was then, and this is now.
The current legal situation surrounding Rush Limbaugh does not involve lying under oath, abusing public office and inappropriate adultery with the much younger help. But now that he has admitted his dreadful addiction to prescription pain-killers and made the painful steps of recovery, Limbaugh is facing a sleazy and reportedly duplicitous Democratic prosecutor in Palm Beach County: one Barry Krischer.
Where on earth are the press corps who so despised the alleged use of the prosecutor's office for political gain six years ago?
In the May issue of The American Spectator, Sam Dealey, a reporter for The Hill newspaper, lays out the whole Limbaugh story, including the scandalous or questionable tactics of the Limbaugh-haters.
Start with former housemaid, Wilma Cline, and her crooked husband David, who became Limbaugh's drug suppliers. David Cline skipped bond on a cocaine-trafficking charge for seven years and then served five years in prison. He was arrested again in 2000 for drug and fraud convictions that earned 18 months probation, which was no doubt violated by feeding Rush's regrettable addiction. Do you remember all those network news reports breathlessly relaying the Clines' story last fall? Where are they now?
The Clines sold their story to the National Enquirer for $250,000. Dealey reports that the Clines attempted to blackmail Rush, demanding $4 million to keep their mouths shut. Remember all the splashy news magazine stories last fall? Where are they now?
Unlike Bill Clinton, Rush Limbaugh never tried to dismiss the story as nothing but lies for cash. But the press that so passionately underlined the tabloid payoff for Gennifer Flowers in 1992 made no attempt to apply any scrutiny to Limbaugh's accusers about their low character or their outsized greediness.
Then there's Barry Krischer, the Florida state attorney for Palm Beach County. Krischer initially suggested there would be no prosecution of Limbaugh, since the usual pattern was to target the drug sellers, not the users. But once liberals around the country smelled the political potential of legal trouble for Rush -- perhaps leading to a crumbling of his massive radio popularity and an easier road to the White House for the Democrats -- waves of pressure rolled over Krischer, and he floated out with the partisan tide.
In December, Limbaugh's defense lawyer Roy Black was shocked to hear from a Palm Beach Post reporter that he'd been told that Rush intended to plead guilty to a third-degree felony, an utterly false story. Krischer's spokesman Michael Edmondson told the Post reporter not to call Black for comment, but he did. Black quickly demanded that Krischer start an ethics inquiry into Edmondson's tactics, which Krischer has refused to consider.
Krischer apparently thinks little of the ethical codes of law and order. In January, the Fort Lauderdale-based Sun-Sentinel newspaper formally requested records from the Limbaugh case. Without contacting Black or Limbaugh, the Krischer team released confidential memos, claiming their moves were endorsed by the state attorney general's office and the Florida Bar. Both groups angrily deny they had approved the controversial tactic.
Even with all these sleazy moves, Dealey reports that Barry Krischer is a lock to be re-elected to his legal post, such a sure thing in his liberal county that the local Republican Party won't even field a candidate against him. Since that's the case, Krischer can pursue Rush without any political consequences -- except maybe the passionate backing of the Carvilles, Begalas and Clinton-lovers across the fruited plain if he should wish to seek higher office.
The same national media that leaped all over this story at the beginning have yet to tell the comprehensive story, one that includes prosecutorial abuse and medical-privacy issues that have even inspired the Florida chapter of the ACLU to side with Limbaugh. Where are the salivating watchdogs of Ken Starr now? Where is Keith Olbermann trying to find facial resemblances with infamous Nazi thugs? Aaron Brown publicly proclaimed he could not remove "the permanent smirk that seems to be attached to my face" over Rush's problems last fall. Is the CNN anchor ready to wipe if off his face now?
Love is never having to say you're sorry. So, too, it seems, is hate.