Back in the '90s, The American Spectator famously introduced America to an Arkansas woman named Paula Jones -- and it was President Bill Clinton's attempts to fend off Jones' subsequent sexual harassment lawsuit that directly led to his perjured testimony about a certain White House intern and subsequent impeachment by the U.S. House of Representatives. So, OK, he did have sexual relations with that woman!
And so we were intrigued to see what the Spectator might have to say about Missouri Lt. Governor Peter Kinder. The magazine has a new story online this morning about our lieutenant governor -- and we would hardly expect our favorite conservative muckrakers to be circumspect about those allegations from ex-stripper/former Penthouse Pet Tammy Chapman. Not when they crucified Clinton.
But times have changed. Or, maybe, it's just that the guy being pilloried for his tawdry sexual appetites is no longer a Democrat. Whatever: Patrick Howley's profile of Kinder (admirably) addresses the Chapman situation, and it (thankfully) stays away from Dana Loesch vast-left-wing-conspiracy land. So, it's not a bad story -- it just lets Kinder off the hook more than we'd expect for such an aggressively prurient magazine.
Indeed, we were amused to see the Spectator quote Kinder -- apparently with a straight face -- blasting coverage of Chapman's allegations as "the politics of personal destruction." That phrase, you'll recall, was first popularized by Bill Clinton during L'Affaire Lewinsky -- and was aimed squarely at those who argued that Clinton's sleazy personal life did indeed matter. Such as, yes, The American Spectator and its allies.
No matter. Politics has a way of making hypocrites out of all of us eventually. Liberals were horrified when Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, only to spend months shooting the messengers who revealed Clinton had an egregious pattern of pursuing state (and White House) employees/interns.
It's hard to hold an openly partisan magazine to a higher standard -- especially when reporter Howley tracks down GOP state legislator Kevin Elmore, the guy who called for Kinder to step out of the race. (Howley also mentions David Humphreys, the donor who is demanding Kinder return his $165,000 in donations.) It's no attack piece -- but still, when it comes to friendly media, this one could have turned out much better for Kinder.
Indeed, it was interesting, once again, to see Kinder's sad little attempts at damage control. At the very top of the Spectator piece, Kinder peddles a little dirt about the law firm that recently made a big donation to Nixon. Carey, Danis and Lowe, which is based in Clayton, cut Nixon a $100,000 check -- even as Kinder has yet to pick up any donations of $5,000 or greater since the Chapman scandal exploded.
"We have never seen pay for play like it's going on now in Missouri," Kinder tells The American Spectator. And of the crowd of playmakers surrounding Nixon? "It's a tight little circle." .... "The firm is called Carey, Danis and Lowe," Kinder tells me. He's referring to the Clayton law firm that overshadowed Kinder's big Sept. 7 Karl Rove fundraiser by cutting Governor Nixon a quick $100,000 check -- just $60,000 less than Kinder picked up at his entire event. "Their two lead partners -- this is a matter of public record -- were suspended in 2002 by the Missouri Supreme Court from the practice of law...They used proprietary information to sue Chrysler... what they did was sufficiently egregious to get someone disbarred. Instead, they were re-instated by the Supreme Court... Carey and Danis are known to be unsavory characters."
But here's the problem with that: No one, not even Kinder, has ever linked Carey, Danis and Lowe to any sort of pay-for-play. There's no record of them getting any government contracts. They appear to be a law firm that specializes in personal injury and defective drug cases -- that's not a firm looking for contract work or paying to play so much as a firm that's swimming in money and philosophically inclined to support Democrats.
There may be scandal somewhere in the Nixon administration. There may be pay-to-play. But if the best scoop in Kinder's arsenal is that a firm that once got in trouble with the Missouri Supreme Court has donated to Nixon's campaign -- well, no wonder we're all still talking about pantless parties. He's got to dish better dirt than that if he really wants to change the subject.