I (heart) the 90s

by Ted on May 12, 2005

USA Today reports:

About a third of the 152 adult guests who slept at the White House or Camp David last year were fundraisers or donors to President Bush’s campaigns, but at least half of those also are family or old friends.

It’s not surprising that there’s a lot of overlap between a successful politician’s fundraisers/ donors and his old friends, so I appreciate that they tried to break that out. It looks like about 1/2 of 1/3 of the guests were donors or fundraisers who were not family or old friends. That’s probably a little less than 16%.

Most readers will remember that Bill Clinton’s presidency came under continuous assault for inviting donors to stay at the White House, specifically the Lincoln bedroom. In 1997, the White House released a list of all of the guests who had stayed in the Lincoln bedroom. (The Bush administration does not report where guests stayed.) CNN posted the list as of 2/97, which they have divided into five groups. They’ve tried to define donors and fundraisers who were not family or old friends as “friends and supporters”. They make up 13% of the list.

There are obviously several degrees of imprecision here. Most importantly, there’s no great way to discern who’s really the President’s friend and who isn’t without a subpoena of his Trapper Keeper. We’re also looking at different timespans, and comparing the Lincoln bedroom to both the White House and Camp David.

What’s less obvious is how the liberal media allowed one President’s pattern of behavior (about 13%) to become a widely-understood multi-year scandal, whereas another President’s pattern of behavior (about 11-15%) is a page 17 story, if that. But, what do I know.



Kieran Healy 05.12.05 at 5:27 pm

What was that phrase that used to get kicked around back then — hiring out the Lincoln bedroom, or something? Ah, good times.


Mo MacArbie 05.12.05 at 6:21 pm

Well of course. That office done been tarnished by the Clenis. These are the perfectly predictable consequences:)


carla 05.12.05 at 6:21 pm

The really irritating part is that the White House is going out of it’s way to keep out the rank and file. It’s practically impossible to get a tour of the White House while visiting DC unless you’re with a large tour group.

I’m visiting DC in two weeks with my mother (a registered GOPer and hardcore Bush supporter) and my brother (not a Bush supporter and NOT a conservative). We’ve been trying to get passes into the White House for three months through both our GOP and Dem Senators (Oregon) to no avail.

But if we wrote a big fat check to the RNC we could get in for a sleepover?


Dan 05.12.05 at 7:17 pm

All together now: It isn’t an outrage if a Republican does it.


Barry Freed 05.12.05 at 7:38 pm

But if we wrote a big fat check to the RNC we could get in for a sleepover?

Why of course, but ask yourself: would you be able to sleep?


Ginger Yellow 05.12.05 at 7:54 pm

Surely with Bush people are his friends because they gave him money. Or jobs. And then when he got to be president, he gave them tax breaks. And juicy contracts.


Thomas 05.12.05 at 8:41 pm

I’m struggling with the math here, so please, bear with me.

According to the CNN article, the Clinton guests included: 107 relatives and their guests, 370 Arkansas friends, 155 longtime friends, 111 friends and supporters, 128 public officials and dignitaries, and 67 “arts and letters”, for a total of 938. 13% is 121.94.

Which people go into that category?

And why aren’t the people in “arts and letters” counted toward that list, if they aren’t? David Geffen isn’t there because of his artistic background, is he? Ted Turner? (And why isn’t Steve Jobs listed under “arts and letters”–his movie studio at least puts out good movies!)

The scandal, such as it was, wasn’t about the Clintons’ inviting their friends or donors to stay, but the explicit link between the donation and the invitation.


Randy Paul 05.12.05 at 8:58 pm


Barry Freed 05.12.05 at 9:04 pm

Thomas raises a good point which leads me to wonder why the Bush administration figures don’t have the separate categories “livestock” and “man-whores”?


Conchis 05.12.05 at 9:53 pm


A moment’s reflection would tell you that Ted excluded the 107 “relatives and relatives’ guests”, (conveniently noted as “not included” in the CNN article) and that that’s why the 111 “friends and supporters” came out at 13%. In any event, including the 107 pushes Clinton’s figures lower, so your complaint is what exactly?


Thomas 05.12.05 at 10:23 pm

Conchis, the names are what’s “not included”, not the number of friends and supporters–that’s quite clearly given in the article, and regardless of which way it pushes the percentage, it is relevant for the comparison, isn’t it?

Assuming one wants to do a proper comparison, I’d think one would want to include everyone, and then compare apples to apples, so to speak. So, if the Bush number is arrived at by asking how many of the guests were donors or fundraisers, and then removing the family and old friends from that group. It seems to me that the Clinton number should be arrived at in the same fashion, but, so far as I can tell, no attempt was made to do that. So we’re told that one of the five categories listed is the relevant category for comparison, despite the fact that, for example, Geffen and Turner (and many more–see opensecrets.org) aren’t included in the donors/fundraisers list, but also don’t obviously fall into the relatives or old friends category. So we don’t really have a comparison of similar things here.


Dan Simon 05.12.05 at 10:58 pm

Surely it’s not news to Crooked Timber readers that American journalists hold the two major US parties to completely different standards, based on preconceived notions of their strengths and flaws? In particular, Democrats have long been assumed to be more financially corrupt and professionally undisciplined, while Republicans are assumed to be more morally depraved (beneath a hypocritical facade) and power-hungry. Members of both parties thus often get a free pass from the press for misdeeds that go against type (Republican financial shenanigans, Democratic abuses of power), while receiving intense–and often unfair–scrutiny for misdeeds that play into their stereotypes.

Republicans often complain, for example, that Democrats such as Robert Byrd get away with racial faux pas that no Republican would ever survive. That’s true, but as Ted points out, there’s another side to the coin: Republican “big money” politics is considered par for the course, while the same charge often sticks to Democrats. None of it is fair, but neither should any of it be surprising.


Steve LaBonne 05.13.05 at 7:54 am

Is there an unwritten rule that you can’t be employed as a journalist if your IQ reaches triple digits? Sure seems that way sometimes.

The blocking of judicial nominees is another area in which there is a whopping double standard in favor of the Republicans. Indeed this applies in general to the uncritical parroting of Republican charges of “obstructionism” (remind me, what exactly was it that happened to Clinton’s health-care plan?)


Peter Parker 05.13.05 at 8:43 am

…there’s no great way to discern who’s really the President’s friend and who isn’t without a subpoena of his Trapper Keeper.

Notes from President George W. Bush’s trapper keeper:

I heart Laura, LOL

Dude, Michael Moore is totally fat…guffaw!

Kenny came over for a sleep over and I totally made a hillarious joke when i offered him a bag of Lay’s Chips. i was all like, “I’m eating your chips!” I am so funny…

I got to fly a jet today! I went like soooo fast it was sick! Dress up is fun.


jet 05.13.05 at 9:56 am

Steve Labonne,
Concerning the Republican charges of judicial nominee obstructionism, the Republicans filibustered one LBJ nominee for 6 days, who did not have enough offered votes to pass if it had come to a vote. Other than that, judicial filibustering is the Dem’s changing how the game is played, since the current nominees being filibustered clearly have a majority who will vote for them, and the filibustering has gone on for far more than 6 days. (And the health care plan was certainly something that was historically filibustered).

Dan Simon,
That is a great observation about the two parties. Hopefully blogs will keep making up for this fact in a larger and larger manner.


Steve LaBonne 05.13.05 at 10:12 am

Jet old buddy, click the link.


Steve LaBonne 05.13.05 at 10:17 am

Not to mention the Clinton judicial nominees that were blocked by Senate rules other than the filibuster- I believe the commonly accepted figure for that is 64. To comound the hypocrisy, in those days the Republicans opined that we really dodn’t need so many Federal judges anyway. But when the shoe’s on the other foot, suddenly we’re desperately short of judges and confirming all of Bush’s appointments is a patriotic duty. Stinking, lying hypocrites.


some guy 05.13.05 at 10:33 am

Also, only Democrats can have sex scandals. Republicans can invite gay prositutes over for the night, rape their wives, force their wives to visit swingers clubs, choke their girlfriends. Doesn’t matter. The liberal media just won’t touch any of it.


james 05.13.05 at 10:49 am

Actually, Democrats can have sex scandals without serious political fallout. Republicans can have business ties with foreign dictators. The only rule both parties need to remember is admission, contrition, and justification.


patrick 05.13.05 at 1:58 pm

Thomas, nice try at statistical analysis, but you miss the point by a mile. The fact that even one of dubya’s money cronies spent a night in the WH, Linclon BR or not, should be front page news. After the stink the wingnuts raised over such in the Clinton years, the hypocrisy alone should beat runaway brides out of front page position. I suppose if it came to light that Jeff Gannon and dubya shared cigars and pre-gay-marital sex, you would argue they did it less often than Bill and Monica, so what’s the big deal.


Oberon 05.13.05 at 2:49 pm

Because Bush’s ranch near Crawford, Texas, is private property, the White House does not share the names of his guests there

While we’re at it, it would be nice if the Corporate Media started referring to Bush’s “ranch” in Crawford by it’s proper description: Bush’s estate in Texas.


razor 05.13.05 at 3:05 pm

Interesting. The suggestion is the press does not call it the same both ways, not that one side is better than the other, yet Thomas automatically knows the numbers are rigged against the Republicans, following, the rule of partisan symmetry, which is, of course, against Republican values, moral realitivity and all being THE threat to Christendom of both the popish and American Southern evangelical variety.

By which I mean, the knee jerk defense is intellectually corrupt.


Brett Bellmore 05.13.05 at 6:00 pm

I continually pointed out to Democrats, during the last administration, that what each President gets away with, the next can do as a matter of course. They just didn’t seem to grasp that the lowered standards they were defending for Clinton would stay lowered when a Republican took office.

Well, here we are, and Bush can get away with anything you demanded that Clinton be allowed to do. Just be thankful he hasn’t stooped to emulate ALL of Clinton’s abuses; Those perpetual tax audits were a real pain.


Uncle Kvetch 05.13.05 at 6:06 pm

Just be thankful he hasn’t stooped to emulate ALL of Clinton’s abuses

You say “blowjob,” I say “100,000 dead Iraqis.” Let’s call the whole thing off.


Sweetie 05.13.05 at 6:51 pm

Steve Labonne,

Are you really saying that everyone on that list had cloture votes that failed to get 60 votes? That’s the definition of a fillibuster after all. If you have a link that can cite the votes it would be most appreciated.

Some guy,

“force their wives to visit swingers clubs…The liberal media just won’t touch any of it”

Ummm, exactly how did you find out about this? Heard it on the street or something? I heard about it as a result of a suit by, I believe, the Chicago Tribune. They sued to get Ryan’s(?) divorce records opened up. Kerry was divorced too, of course. And his divorce file is still closed. And we still don’t have all Kerry’s military records. So who’s getting a pass from the press?


Dan 05.13.05 at 7:25 pm

“They just didn’t seem to grasp that the lowered standards they were defending for Clinton would stay lowered when a Republican took office.”

I don’t get it. What did Clinton get away with? What lower standards were the democrats arguing for? I think that it has been cited many times that Bush Senior and Ronny RayGun did stuff that Clinton got reamed for. Off the top of my head, donors in the White House, pardoning questionable people. The only thing I can say that they got Clinton for was the “Blowjob.” He didn’t trade arms for hostages, he didn’t illegaly support terrorists, he didn’t lie to the country about WMD and reasons for attacking another country, he didn’t do so many things those the last three republican presidents have done that are wrong.


Thomas 05.13.05 at 8:34 pm

razor–I don’t mean to suggest that the press has made a faulty comparison. So far as I can tell, the press hasn’t made a comparison at all. I meant to suggest–and I’ll say it plainly–that the Ted screwed up in his comparison. That hasn’t anything to do with media bias or relativity or the rest of it, but it may–and only just may–have something to do with partisanship. It may also be that Ted posted quickly, without thinking much about the comparison, or some other such scenario. I don’t really care why. And I don’t like being misinterpreted.


swarty 05.13.05 at 8:52 pm

I’m impressed that you brought the term “Trapper Keeper” out of the deepest recesses of my brain.

As for the behavior of the press, they suck and continue to suck.


boonie 05.13.05 at 9:39 pm

Brett Bellmore:

I’ll see your Monicagate and raise you an Iran/Contra and a Watergate. Republicans: lowering the bar since 1972.


razor 05.13.05 at 11:59 pm

You assume facts as you please, to serve a reflexive partisan purpose, than are indignant at being misinterpreted.

Here’s the fact: while none of us know the facts, you automatically know the suggested interpretation is wrong. All are free to draw their own conclusions from this fact.


jimp1947 05.14.05 at 7:12 am

Don’t know why anyone is surprised by anything this administration does. Fact is that the US government was taken over by a criminal cabal in 2001 and we are all probably toast for a long time to come. Welcome to 1984.


Stephen Kriz 05.14.05 at 9:24 am

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the mainstream media encouraged and abetted a thirteen year smear campaign against Bill and Hillary Clinton that goes on to this very day.

While the Bush family, three generations of war profiteers, who have connections to Nazis and brutal fascist regimes around the globe including Hussein in Iraq, Lumamba in the Congo, Allende in Chile and Noriega in Panama, are treated like morally pure demi-gods.

George W. Bush’s lengthy list of personal failings including multiple arrests, alcoholism, cocaine abuse, statutory rape of a minor, reputed extramarital affairs and higly questionable and unethical business dealings is ignored by the press and he is hailed as a great moral leader. While Bill Clinton, who has never been arrested and has no credible history of substance abuse, is reviled as a moral degenerate for having a consensual affair with an adult female.

We live in incredible times.


bill 05.14.05 at 9:46 am

Shave your head and wink at George. They may have a room ready for you already.


Man Ho 05.16.05 at 5:17 pm

Bush probably didn’t let guest use the Lincoln bedroom.

He probably saved it for his appointments with Jeff Gannon.

“Alright, Jeff. This time I’LL be the surrendering Iraqi and you be the Abu Ghraib guard.”


Stephen 05.17.05 at 12:12 am

“And we still don’t have all Kerry’s military records.”

Yes we do. He went to Vietnam. Bush, on the other hand, didn’t.

How dare you?


Celia 05.17.05 at 5:47 pm

Clinton never let his donors drive a US submarine into a Japanese fishing boat.

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