Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Difference Between Bill Clinton And Randall Tobias

Star business columnist John Ketzenberg compares Randall Tobias' admission he used the escort services of the so-called D.C. Madam to Bill Clinton's Monica Lewinsky scandal. Ketzenberg writes, in part:

Randall Tobias and Bill Clinton.

Their politics couldn't be more different, but in offices around town Monday people linked their names thanks to the latest Washington sex scandal.

"I can't believe he did that" was a common refrain among people in Indianapolis three days after Tobias resigned from his post as the top foreign aid adviser in the State Department. That often was followed by "I'm so disappointed."

And then an emphatic thought: "What was he thinking?"

Seems like it's 1998 all over again.

The comparison of Tobias' situation to Bill Clinton's could not be more off the mark. When Tobias was asked by ABC News' Brian Ross about his name appearing on the client list of the D.C. Madam, he admitted he used her services, although he denied having sex with any of the escorts. Now, some may be attempted to compare his "there was no sex involved" denial to Bill Clinton's famous "I smoked [pot] but didn't inhale" comment, but that's another debate. Tobias could have simply told Ross he never used the D.C. madam's escort services. He wouldn't have been under oath. And what could Ross have done? Run the story with the risk that the call list was a fraud and face a defamation lawsuit against ABC News. Tobias answered Ross' question truthfully because he's fundamentally the good person so many people in Indianapolis came to know him as.

Ketzengberger quotes a couple of local PR experts who agree that Tobias did the right thing. "I always advise people to own up to things," said Myra Borshoff, a principal at public relations firm Borshoff Johnson Matthews. Borshoff, who is known for advising clients in crisis, thinks Tobias "did the right thing" by confessing his involvement. The confession also means "it's a two-day story at most," said Gene Sease, the veteran PR pro in charge of Sease Gerig and Associates.

But are they right? If you practice the Bill and Hillary Clinton school of ethics, the answer would clearly have been NO. When Bill Clinton was confronted with the Lewinsky scandal, his natural instinct to lie kicked in and he denied and denied and denied. He also hired private investigators to dig up all the dirt they could find on his political opponents, which he successfully used to discredit several of them, including Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde and Dan Burton, to name just a few. Dozens of people's lives were turned upside down as they were forced to lawyer up and appear before a grand jury panel all because Bill Clinton was fundamentally incapable of telling the truth. His lifetime partner, Hillary Clinton, who now wants her turn at being president is no different. Whether it was Whitewater, her $100,000 killing on cattle futures, Travelgate, the White House fundraising scandals, et al, Hillary's natural instinct always kicked in and she denied and denied and denied. The toll for some of her closest friends and advisers was unbearable. But in the end, she survived unscathed.

So I have to wonder whether Tobias was better off telling the truth. Lying seems to work well for Bill and Hillary Clinton. And reading from today's Star about the D.C. Madam's strategy in defending her own case, the only word that comes to mind is the word "blackmail". While she claimed to be apologetic that Tobias got drawn into the affair, she gloats about the success of her strategy:

But Palfrey, who had considered selling the phone numbers to raise money for her legal defense, said she gave the numbers to ABC in hopes the network could identify former clients who could be witnesses. She said ABC's interview with Tobias showed her strategy worked, and his admission "supports my position all along that I operated a sexual, albeit legal, business."

But Palfrey, who asked the media to "put aside the titillation of the who's who list," also chided Tobias for not coming forward on his own.

"Had he done so earlier, along with many, many others who have used my company's services throughout the years," Palfrey said, "I most likely would not
be in my current predicament."

Palfrey didn't have to resort to blackmailing anyone on her client list because she had ABC News' Brian Ross doing her dirty work for her. The truth is that if Tobias had simply denied the allegation, ABC News would have been hard-pressed to run the story. Like Bill Clinton was able to do, he would still have his job and life would go on. It would be interesting to learn how many people on that list Ross called before he found someone who would own up to the fact that they had used the escort services. And it still looks like Ross is only managing to find Republicans on the list of more than 10,000 names. The Star writes, "ABC News, which plans a report on Palfrey to air on Friday's "20/20" program, has said other names and numbers in client records include a Bush administration economist, others at the White House, lobbyists and military officials."


Wilson46201 said...

Sadly, Tobias showed his true colors when asked if he remembered anything about "the gals" (his words) - he replied it was like ordering pizzas. Nice job dehumanizing women, Randy! [appropriate nickname there, eh?]

He also admitted recently he was using "Central-American gals" - I wonder if he inquired about their green card? International prostitute trafficking was allegedly an issue of concern to the loyal Bushies...

Gary R. Welsh said...

And as I recall, Bill Clinton once stood in front of a group of young African-American girls and preached abstinence at the same time he was preying on a White House intern.

Wilson46201 said...

Two things endlessly fascinate white Republicans: peashake houses and Bill Clinton's penis. They conjure up delusions with all Democratic politics revolving around these objects ...

Anonymous said...

The only person who specifically mentioned Bill Clinton's penis, has been you, Wilson, a white (?) Democrat. Nice try

Anonymous said...

"preying" on a white house intern?

Are talking about the poor little jew girl who was snapping the straps to her G-string to the president?

Your command of the English language is lacking. Better up that dose of Aricept because you're memory is clearly slipping!

Anonymous said...

So rich, white, and powerful men what to get some action in a town ripe with escorts, interns, and the like chomping at the bit to be with a "name". Big deal, at least Tobias fessed up the first time instead of dragging his family, friends, and staff through a ridiculous, silly, and costly mess.

Anonymous said...

Diane Rehm had an interesting guest on her show the other day, a guy named Brooks Jackson, who wrote a book called "unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation" (he also runs the factcheck.org website).

He talked about how people tend to believe things that play into their biases (and vice-versa) without challenging them, and how difficult it is for most of us to set our biases aside and really weigh things objectively.

In this case, if you are biased in favor of Mr. Tobias, or perhaps in favor of Republicans in general, you are likely to believe that he really did just call these "gals" for massages, even though when one looks objectively at the circumstances this is pretty hard to imagine (check out the smoking gun website if you want to read some fun stuff about the "escort" service in question).

Rgarding the ex-president, my guess is both Mr. Tobias and Mr. Clinton lied about the circumstances of their dalliances for essentially the same reason: to try to keep from wrecking their marriages.

Wilson46201 said...

...is the anonymous nobody at 12:18 really Bob Parker posting here? "jew girl"???

Anonymous said...

Like Fox News, Gary's posting on Tobias is far from a 'no spin zone'. But that's okay, as long as we all understand where he's coming from no one should be surprised.

Fact: Tobias claimed condoms were not effective. Either he did this because he really believes it or just to appease Bush so he could get his political appointments. Either way he should not have been in the positions he was in, controlling AIDS funding and other critical funding around the world. The terms hypocritical and dishonest come to mind.

Fact: One can rightfully assume Tobias was having some kind of sex with the escorts and with the Central American Pizza Girls he was ordering up to his residence in DC (and elsewhere in the world, as well, it could be assumed).

Fact: If Tobias doesn't believe condoms protect against STD's, like HIV/AIDS, then he may not have worn them during these romps with his little fun-bunnies.

Fact: If he is not wearing condoms with his wife, she may also now be infected with anything he may have drug home.

All this has nothing to do with President Clinton's affair.

Anonymous said...

The difference between Randall Tobias and Bill Clinton?

Dry cleaning!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think that Washington, D.C., was the first place Tobias called one of those "gals" to come over to his place?

Anonymous said...

"Two things endlessly fascinate white Republicans: peashake houses and Bill Clinton's penis. They conjure up delusions with all Democratic politics revolving around these objects ... "

Sorta like the Dems can't let go of their hate for Karl Rove, right? Or Exxon-Mobil? Or Halliburton?