|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
"Filegate" is a term that always deserved scare quotes, because the putative scandal concerning the misuse of FBI files in the Clinton White House was so clearly, from its very beginning in 1996, no scandal at all. But the obvious absence of any credible evidence that Bill or Hillary Clinton or any of their employees or associates had ordered up such files, or committed any abuse of them, did nothing to dissuade mainstream media, right-wing outlets, or Republican politicians from hysterically promoting the pseudo-scandal.
Today it is amazing to recall how significant this nothingness was once deemed to be, with nightly coverage on network newscasts. On Capitol Hill, Sen. Orrin Hatch demanded a fingerprint analysis to determine whether Hillary Clinton had touched the files (she hadn't) while lengthy investigations got under way in the Senate, the House and the Office of the Independent Counsel led by Kenneth Starr. Bob Dole, the Republican presidential candidate in 1996, compared "Filegate" with Nixon's Watergate scandal and asked: "Where's the outrage?"
Yesterday the last wheeze of hype was squeezed from that old controversy, when U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth dismissed the remaining civil lawsuit against former Clinton administration officials in the FBI files affair. Brought by eccentric attorney Larry Klayman, who became a favorite of cable television and conservative funders during the Clinton era, those costly lawsuits were described in the judge's decision as essentially baseless.
Summing up his findings, Lamberth wrote: "After years of litigation, endless depositions, the fictionalized portrayal of this lawsuit and its litigants on television, this court is left to conclude that with the lawsuit, to quote Gertrude Stein, 'there's no there there.'" A Reagan appointee once lauded by Klayman himself as "this great jurist," he showed a talent for understatement when he noted that "after ample opportunity," the plaintiffs "have not produced any evidence of the far-reaching conspiracy that sought to use intimate details from FBI files for political assassinations that they alleged. The only thing that they have demonstrated is that this unfortunate episode -- about which they do have cause to complain -- was exactly what the defendants claimed: a bureaucratic snafu."