Whitewater Redux

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

Why would Bill Clinton want to support a movie project that dredges up a scandal of his presidency, just as his wife is seeking the nomination? As reported by Variety’s Michael Fleming, producers of Whitewater figure Susan McDougal’s life story say that the former president told them “how much the story needs to be told.” McDougal spent 21 months in prison for a contempt of court charge for refusing to testify against Clinton about the real estate deal, but even a movie favorable to the Clintons risks reigniting debate and old memories — surely a distraction from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But with at least one anti-Hillary doc in the works, from producer David Bossie, the Clintons surely expect Whitewater to come up in one form or another, anyway. McDougal told the independent counsel that the Clintons did nothing wrong, and her story is a tale of an underdog harassed by the system. If the movie is released during the campaign, it actually could help the Clintons get ahead of the “vast right wing conspiracy.” It may help neutralize any attack ads that would arise from independently financed “527” groups, ala the “swift boat” spots which dogged John Kerry’s 2004 bid.

Dinner Date: The White House Correspondents Dinner is Saturday, a curious mix of journalism, politicos and celebrity, and there is some question as to what the tenor of the event will be with the tragic shootings on Monday at Virginia Tech. But the main beef about the event is that the normally hard-nosed White House reporters, for one evening at least, are joking and drinking with the people they cover. At a different dinner last month, Karl Rove rapped with David Gregory doing back up. Aren’t they supposed to be adversaries? Last year, after Stephen Colbert hosted, the American Journalism Review declared the “party’s over” and that it should be shut down. The Politico’s Carrie Budoff, however, writes that such events are bigger than ever, with this weekend’s event featuring pre-parties and Vanity Fair and Bloomberg after-parties, not to mention coverage on C-Span and You Tube. And, as a resporter new to D.C., she is a recent convert. “The things that felt so jarring a few months ago now seem — gasp! — normal. Chief among them: journalists getting dressed up in tuxedos and fancy dresses, and inviting sources they regularly cover as dates. Back then: bizarro! Now: still bizarro, but part of the Washington game.”


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