Page 18


The Clintons at the Texas Republican Party’s 1996 Convention Katy Adams the essential fairness of Lyons’ harsh critique, instead falling back on the weak defense that he never came out and said what dditional supporting evidence for Fools for Scandal can be found in The New York Times Book Review Times reporter Phil Gailey failed to cite a single factual error to sustain his bitter attack on the book. \(“This is a nasty book…as it assaults the integrity of the reporters who did the reporting,” was the most Gailey could every book, this may simply reflect Gailey’ s lazinessbut it also suggests that Lyons hasn’t done a great deal of making things up out of whole cloth. But the most compelling reason for me to put faith in Lyons book is that after I read it, Whitewater stories, for the first time, suddenly began to make sense. One of Lyons’ sub-theses is that Whitewater storiesin The New York Times and in other outlets that are heavily invested in there being some there to Whitewaterare deliberately written in an obscure and convoluted style, to suggest dire dealings where none have actually occurred. Lyons says the establishment media call to mind the song about the wah-wah bird”a mythical beast that flies in tighter and tighter concentric circles until vanishing into what the song calls ‘the orifice of his fundament,’ then complains about his inability to see in the dark.” Lyons’ straightforward narration of the Whitewater events provides a sort of Rosetta Stone that makes it possible to translate into a coherent storyline the mysterious code found in daily newspaper articles. The basic story, as Lyons tells it, is that the Clintons got involved in a real es tate investment with a friend they knew from state governmenta friend who turned out to be manic-depressive. That friend, Jim McDougal, made a shambles of the development’s finances and lost a lot of money for the Clintons. After the Whitewater project, McDougal made a hapless venture into the savings-and-loan business, leading The New York Timesand the many who followed the paper’s leadto cluck at the conflict of interest, despite the illogic of expecting the Clintons to avoid a conflict that wouldn’t arise for another five years. Now, when I read about the conviction of former Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker, I don’t have to wonder, “What does he have to do with Whitewater again?” Thanks to Gene Lyons, I know that he was a business associate of the Clinton’s Whitewater associates, and he was con22 THE TEXAS OBSERVER NOVEMBER 22, 1996