Aide Defends Clinton at ARCO
Sidney Blumenthal, assistant to President Clinton, blasted independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr while highlighting the accomplishments of the Clinton administration before a crowd of above 100 at the ARCO Forum last night.
In an address entitled "The Clinton Presidency and America's Future" Blumenthal called Starr's actions "profoundly political." The speech was sponsored jointly by the College Democrats and the Shorenstein Center for Press and Politics.
Known for his involvement in White House scandal management and recently for his defamation lawsuit against Internet author Matt Drudge, Blumenthal praised the Clinton administration for "progressive politics in office."
Introduced last night as a "modern figure who can zip through the revolving doors of press and politics" Blumenthal, a 49-year-old former New Yorker and Washington Post reporter, is author of five books and one play.
Now an assistant to the President, Blumenthal writes foreign and domestic policy speeches, and is an aide to the First Lady.
Commenting on the scandals surrounding the White House, Bulmenthal said "there is nothing, anywhere. In the Lewinsky matter, there is no case, no crime, no accusers."
Talking about his appearance before Starr's federal grand jury, Blumenthal said "if they think they have intimidated me, they have failed."
Blumenthal called Starr's inquiry the "apocalyptic assault of a zealot." Characterizing Starr as an "inquisitor of unlimited, unchecked power," he cited Starr's "ideological and financial" ties to conservatives as driving motivation for an "attempt to destroy this presidency."
Blumenthal called Clinton's administration policies "preemptive" and "reconstructive," and described Clinton's governing philosophy as "one nation politics."
"For nearly six years, Clinton has been remaking progressive politics," Blumenthal said. Showcasing the President's initiatives on health care and public safety, he said there is "a new social contract at work."
Blumenthal said that in 1992 the "tools of government were left to rust." Charging that the congressional Republican party has lost "ideological focus," he said Republicans must "stand still" to avoid fracturing.
Reeling from controversy surrounding allegations of spousal abuse, Blumenthal and his wife brought a $30 million defamation suit against Drudge and Drudge's Internet content provider, America OnLine.
Dismissed Wednesday by a federal judge, Blumenthal explained that the 1996 Communications Act exempts Internet content providers from libel and defamation charges, forcing the dismissal of his defamation lawsuit.
Blumenthal criticized the Republicans' refusal to pay United Nations dues, charging that they engaged in partisan politics by hitching foreign policy to domestic issues.
"At the moment that the United States is at the zenith of economic and military power, internationalism is being questioned [like never before]," he said.
"Blumenthal spoke well but it's a shame he had to spend so much time on scandals instead of policy," said Michael J. Passante '99, president of the College Democrats.