These are confusing times for the American people. No one is quite sure if their president is a liar, an idiot, or a brilliant world leader with an open relationship. So in the midst of uncertainty, Americans and others have fallen back on a standard reaction to a lack of information: Weave a conspiracy. From the "Today" show to the depths of the Internet, Monicagate is being blamed on everybody from Big Tobacco to
the Jews. A sampling:
: It's an anti-Semitic plot that may result in reduced foreign aid to Israel and a backlash against Jews in the United States.
Source: William Ginsburg, attorney for Monica Lewinsky; numerous Jewish newspapers.
Validity Quotient (V.Q.) = 1/10. While many Jews across America will confess to having stopped to ponder, "Do you think she's Jewish?" it is really Ginsburg who gave the paranoia of Jewish men over 65 new life. "I am torn because I fear for the fate of the presidency in our democracy, and I don't want the president to resign. Who knows who will come after Clinton and how he will deal with Israel?" Those who took a fourth-grade civics class will recall that if the President steps down or is impeached he is replaced by the Vice-President, who happens to be Al Gore, who happens to be considered a great friend of Israel.
2. Theory: It's an ultra-nationalist, Jewish Zionist plot to derail the peace process and screw the Palestinians.
Source: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement: "The Zionist lobby creates disasters for anyone who may cause it problems. Its aim is to prevent the U.S. president from exerting pressure on Israel. So they pushed him into a sex trap."
V.Q. = 1/10. Is it just a coincidence that a pretty Jewish woman from Beverly Hills, who's the daughter of a wealthy Jewish doctor whose family fled the Nazis, and who has a Jewish family attorney, created an international media bonanza on the very week that Yasser Arafat was in Washington to discuss the peace process at a time that Palestinians felt Clinton most understood their demands? Yes.
3. Theory: It's a right-wing conspiracy theory of vast proportions.
Source: First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton
V.Q. = 2/10. While some in the media have chosen to dismiss the First Lady's analysis as spin-doctoring at its finest, her basic point is not unfounded. Many of the central players involved in the Monica situation (namely Kenneth Starr and The Rutherford Institute that represents Paula Jones) have strong ideological and financial ties to the right wing. How that plays into the work they do is anyone's guess, but H.R.C. is not off-base for speculating.
4. Theory: Mickey Kantor, Vernon Jordan, and Kenneth Starr are all blackmailing Clinton to win immunity for tobacco companies.
Source: Jack Cannon, anti-smoking advocate.
V.Q. = 1/10. Kantor, the recently returned advisor to the president; Jordan, the Clinton confidante and Lewinsky career counselor; and Starr, the independent prosecutor, have all represented tobacco companies or sat on tobacco company boardsand are therefore blackmailing the president in order to win immunity for Big Tobacco. Hmmm. It took some good sleuthing to piece all these elements together. The administration's recent announcement that it is open to the idea of giving tobacco companies some form of immunity also speaks to the plan. But overall, it's insane.
5. Theory: Clinton had one former White House intern knocked off; but Monica got away.
Source: The Internet.
V.Q.= 0/10. The story seems to have originated with this e-mail. Judge it for yourself:
"Last July, Mary Mahoney, the manager of the Georgetown Starbuck's Coffee shop, was murdered along with two co-workers. The co-workers were taken to a separate room and shot in the head. Mary herself was shot five times at close range. Two different guns were used, meaning at least two people took part. Neighbors did not hear shots, which means silencers were used. The murders were not discovered until the next day and even though the cash register was still full, the incident was quickly categorized as a robbery. Except that Mary Mahoney, the 25-year-old manager, had been a White House intern, and her death came just days after Michael Isikoff first started hinting that a "former White House intern" was about to come forward with details of a sexual liaison with the President.
That violence was threatened against Bill's former lovers who wanted to go public is now established fact. Gennifer Flowers was threatened. So was former Miss Arkansas Sally Perdue. Now of course it's known that the intern in Isikoff's sights wasn't Mary but Monica. Monica Lewinsky, who so impressed Bill Clinton that he bought her a dress and apparently "autographed" it with his DNA as well. So, Mary's murder, clearly NOT a robbery and with all the earmarks of a government cover-up, raises the following question. Did a plan to silence a damaging leak target the wrong intern by mistake?"
Know of any other conspiracies whirling around Monica and Bill? E-mail your tips.
Rachel Burstein, investigative reporter for Mother Jones, did not attend Hebrew school with Monica Lewinsky. Her editor did.