We are chatting with Dick Morris over coffee at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, where the politico's resurrection and his old boss' insurrection have made him a hot ticket on the book circuit. Let's take a look at the menu. Shall it be soup or scandal du jour? We'll opt for putting Jane Doe No. 5 on Morris' plate.
"I find myself believing two things at the same time," says Clinton's former chief political strategist. "One, that Bill Clinton couldn't possibly have violently raped somebody and two, that this woman is highly credible. I think this scandal will be the grassy knoll of his presidency. Like everyone wonders who's behind the grassy knoll, who shot Kennedy, people are going to wonder, did he rape Juanita Broaddrick, and this is going to go on for decades.
"I also think that if there's a Jane Doe No. 5, there's going to be a 6 and a 7 and an 8. Many of them, I think, are going to come out after he leaves office. If you rape somebody, the one thing I know is you don't do it just once."
Whew! Remind us not to hire Morris the next time we run for president of a foreign country. Foreign consulting--he won't say where--provides the "vast, vast" majority of Morris' income now that he's risen from the ashes of his own sexual scandal to his new life as an "objective commentator" for Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel and New York Post.
These days, he's hawking the paperback version of his doorstop memoir, "Behind the Oval Office: Getting Reelected Against All Odds" (Renaissance), and the same publisher is coming out with a new Morris tome in May--"The New Prince: Machiavelli Updated for the Twenty-First Century."
For the paperback, Morris has come up with a juicy new introduction that deconstructs Clinton's frosty marriage. Let's take a peek, shall we?
"I have very rarely, if ever, seen [Clinton] express emotion or love toward Hillary," he writes. "Hillary is not cold, remote or, as some have suggested, gay."
Hmmmm, now who would suggest something like that? Might that person be the former Clintonite who dropped that bombshell on talk radio the last time he was in L.A., pushing the hardcover version of his book?
"It's what some people have accused me of suggesting," Morris says, "but I didn't do it then, I don't do it now and I never believed she was gay. I said . . . 'if it is true that she is not into regular sex with men, that casts [Clinton's] relationship with Monica Lewinsky in a different light.' But I preceded it by saying, 'I have no evidence of it, and I do not believe it to be true.' "
Then why say it at all? "Because we were talking about a hypothetical, and it was stupid, and I shouldn't have said it."
Oh, yes. Did we forget to mention that Morris alleges yet another Clinton dalliance, with Susan McDougal? He brings it up to blunt former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta's charge that Morris encouraged the president to lie.
"In 1996, the president called me in and said, 'I have to testify in the Jim Guy Tucker, Jim and Susan McDougal trial, and I'm worried about what they might ask me. . . . What if they ask me about my relationship with Susan McDougal?' I did not ask, because you don't ask your client, why, what did you do with Susan McDougal? I, instead, assumed there was a reason he asked the question and I assumed the worst, and my answer to him was look, if you had an affair with her, just admit it. There is nothing you can say about sex we can't get you out of. Just don't lie, because then nobody can help you.' "
Shades of what Morris calls "Saturday-night Bill," the guy who threatens "Sunday-morning Bill's" brilliant presidency. "Saturday-night Bill," writes Morris, "has the nervous system of a shark, dividing everyone he meets into two categories--edible and inedible--depending on whether the person meets one of his needs or does not. As a consequence of this unique dichotomy, Saturday-night Bill lives in one of only two alternate states of being: caught or not caught. He avoids the former at all costs and seeks the latter by any means necessary."
Morris has, of course, been through the fire of sexual scandal himself. He made amends with his wife, Eileen McGann, and apologizes to her as well as the White House in the new edition. We wondered whether Morris' experience made him harder on Clinton or more sympathetic.
"Both. More sympathetic, because, as I said in a phone call with him, 'I know what you're going through.' Harder because it's very important that he be stern enough with himself to cope with it, and I'm not sure he's done that."