Quest for the Presidency, 1992

By Peter L. Goldman; Thomas M. Defrank et al. | Go to book overview

7.
The Scent of a Woman

D ee Dee Myers was at her desk at headquarters in Little Rock one Thursday in mid-January, fielding a call from a reporter, when the first small chunk of sky fell on Bill Clinton. An assistant had just brought over a note, and Myers, the governor's pert young press secretary, scanned it as unhappily as if it said the biopsy had come up positive.

"Uh oh," she said, reading aloud to herself. "'Star magazine links BC with five women.' I'd better kill this."

It was the moment Clinton's people had dreaded from the beginning: the whispers about Clinton's supposed sexual athletics had escalated from vague rumor to cold print, with names, times, and places attached. The Star exposé, when they saw it, was not itself the stuff of their bad dreams; it was a rehash of the old Larry Nichols case, the lawsuit brought by a state employee who claimed to have been fired because he knew too much about the governor's womanizing. His accusations and his list of Bill's girls had melted under scrutiny when he first filed the suit, and their revival in a lurid supermarket scandal sheet did little to heighten their credibility. For forty-eight hours, Myers thought she actually could kill the story, or at least contain it. She hit the phones, and so did Stephanopoulos, on the road with the candidate. In a day's frantic pleading for sanity, they managed to talk the major networks and the mainstream pencil press into spiking the allegations.

But another media food chain was forming around them, one they hadn't anticipated and were powerless to stop. The story squirted from the bottom-feeding Star onto Fox Television's evening newscasts that night and from there to the raunchier big-city tabloid dailies the next day. Their interest in turn attracted the attention of the respectable media, and their loud headlines -- WILD BILL, shrieked the New York Post -- made useful visuals for even the more sober-sided TV newscasts; they could hardly be blamed for showing how badly the penny press was behaving. The story of the story had become the story,

-89-

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Quest for the Presidency, 1992
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • I - A Quiet National Crisis 1
  • 1 - The Autumn of a President 3
  • 2 - The Age of Anxiety 11
  • 3 - The Winds of Rebellion 20
  • II - The Challenger 29
  • 4 - The Man Who Would Be President 31
  • 5 - Waiting for Godot 48
  • 6 - The Look of a Winner 73
  • 7 - The Scent of a Woman 89
  • 8 - The Comeback Kid 126
  • 9 - Goin' Home 156
  • 10 - The Downside of Charisma 185
  • 11 - The Doom Crier 208
  • 12 - The Manhattan Project 245
  • 13 - The Man from Hope 269
  • III - The President 295
  • 14 - Where Was George? 297
  • 15 - The War against the Crown 318
  • 16 - The Last Inaction Hero 341
  • 17 - He Doesn't Get It 358
  • 18 - The Quayle Hunt 368
  • 19 - The Return of Little Brother 387
  • 20 - This Way to the Jihad 398
  • IV - The Billionaire 411
  • 21 - Citizen Perot 413
  • 22 - The Age of Innocence 424
  • 23 - The War of the Worlds 436
  • 24 - Point Counterpoint 449
  • 25 - The Long Goodbye 463
  • V - The Choice 481
  • 26 - The Boys on the Bus 483
  • 27 - The Search for a Silver Bullet 508
  • 28 - The Second Coming 538
  • 29 - Nine Days in October 553
  • 30 - To the Wire 579
  • Appendix - The Campaign Papers 615
  • Index 736
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