A Bouquet of Bennetts

Several readers e-mailed to tell Chatterbox that Clinton did not commit some sort of Freudian slip when he called the prosecutor interviewing him on the grand jury videotape “Mr. Bennett.” Chatterbox had slyly suggested that Clinton has some “issues” with his Paula Jones attorney, Bob Bennett, whose own statements in the Paula Jones deposition denying sex between Clinton and Monica Lewinsky are now being blamed (by the Starr team) on Clinton. In fact, several readers pointed out, one of Starr’s prosecutors is named Jackie Bennett, and Jackie Bennett fired several nasty questions at Clinton in the deposition.

True. But during the portion of the tape Chatterbox was referring to, it wasn’t Jackie Bennett who was asking the questions; it was his colleague Robert Bittman. So lay off, okay?

Chatterbox will concede that perhaps Clinton was confusing Robert Bittman with Jackie Bennett, and not expressing subconscious hostility toward Bob Bennett. (Though it happens that Clinton was being asked questions about Bob Bennett at the time he called Bittman Bennett.) It’s also possible, as several readers, including my own father, point out, that Clinton’s subconscious rage is really directed at William Bennett, Bob Bennett’s brother, who has a new book called The Death of Outrage that apparently argues the country’s being too nice to Bill Clinton. (If the country’s being too nice to Bill Clinton, how come it’s buying so many copies of William Bennett’s book that it’s now a New York Times bestseller?)

Chatterbox feels fairly certain that Clinton was not expressing subconscious anger at Leslie Bennetts, a writer for Vanity Fair, or at Bennett Cerf, the late publisher and television personality…

Timothy Noah