John Profumo

by Harry on March 13, 2006

Whenever a politician who has done something really bad, whether it is the result of a terrible misjudgement (the kindest gloss on Blair and Bush) or worse (Clinton), and fails even to resign, I can’t help thinking of Profumo, and wondering what he thinks.

No longer.

(Via Chris Brooke, who asks whether Profumo is the last surviving war time MP. Apparently not — but he was the last survivor who voted in the Chamberlain ousting, and on the right side, which counts for a lot.)



John Emerson 03.13.06 at 4:57 pm


I’d much prefer a worse President, then.


Barry 03.13.06 at 5:04 pm

Harry, do you really think that having an affair and lying about it is worse than starting a war after lying about it, all for political gain?


harry b 03.13.06 at 5:15 pm

No I don’t, but it definitely sounds as if I do. Sorry. I meant that the reasons for it were worse than the reasons for the other on the kindest (in my view not the most accurate) interpretation of the reasons in the other case. I couldn’t think of a better word than “worse” and can see that it doesn’t even express my thought even when read as I meant it. As you can tell I am getting very convoluted.

None of that excuses Clinton by the way. What he did was quite similar to what Profumo did (which is what I care about in this post). In fact I’m not sure that Profumo committed a crime (which I’m pretty certain Clinton did). Compare what they did after.


Bob B 03.13.06 at 5:52 pm

Profumo’s “heinous” mistake was that of a cabinet minister from the Ministry of Defence lying to Parliament about a situation that was at the time recognised by other government ministers as a potentially serious security risk. The subsequent trial of Stephen Ward on charges of “living on immoral earnings” of Christine Keeler – with whom Profumo had been having an affair – added much to the dimensions of the scandal and enhanced an impression of pervasive sleaze in high places. The BBC’s website has a balanced, extensive account of the whole affair:


Bob B 03.13.06 at 7:03 pm

Arguably, too much is being made of Profumo voting with the opposition against Chamberlain’s government in the adjournment debate on 7-8 May 1940. In fact, the government easily won this purely technical motion (by 281 v 200) but what really destroyed Chamberlain’s personal credibility was the large number of Conservative abstentions and the powerful, critical speeches made by Conservative MPs. Chamberlain duly resigned – by way of extenuation, he was already a sick man and died later that same year of cancer.

On his replacement as prime minister, the choice was between Churchill (Sea Lord in the war cabinet) or Lord Halifax (foreign secretary) becoming prime minister. Halifax’s peerage rather ruled him out and as foreign secretary he was directly tainted with the odium of the Munich Agreement of September 1938. Churchill on becoming PM soon discovered that the foreign office had maintained contact with the government in Nazi Germany through Swedish diplomatic channels. With the full support of Labour members of his war cabinet, Churchill ordered the channels closed and rejected any possibility of a negotiated settlement to end hostilities.


John Quiggin 03.13.06 at 7:31 pm

The most lasting legacy of the Profumo business was the immortal line uttered by Mandy Rice-Davies, in response to denials from one of those involved “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he”.

This line is so apposite, in so many contexts, it deserves its own acronym.


harry b 03.13.06 at 7:47 pm

Since bob b is returning to the really interesting stuff, John Lukacs’ book Five Days in May 1940 is a rivetting account of the first days of Churchill’s premiership. Bob b — you seem like you must know more than I do about the period — is the book as good as it seems to me?


otto 03.13.06 at 7:52 pm

bob b

That’s a rather tendentious summary of: Halifax’s decision to rule himself out (or he blinked first if you prefer); Halifax’s role in considering how to respond to the French government’s request for negotiations with Italy to avoid Musso entering the war; and Churchill’s role in ending that discussion, most often seen as the result of Tory ministers outside the Cabinet.

See Lukacs, Five days in London.


Barry 03.13.06 at 8:04 pm

Thanks for clarifying, Harry. I wondered, because there are a lot of people who would actually figure that that sex and lying was worse than mass murder – sorry, killing lots of people for personal gain – and lying.

“In fact I’m not sure that Profumo committed a crime (which I’m pretty certain Clinton did). Compare what they did after.”

Two comments – first, the resignation of a cabinet officer is not as big a deal as the resignation of a president. Second, if Clinton should have resigned (which is the only implication of your statement), then what should Bush do? Hairshirt and self-flagellation for the rest of his life?


Rasselas 03.13.06 at 8:18 pm

I’d like to be the first one to cite Kundera to respond to Barry’s question.


josh 03.13.06 at 8:22 pm

I think that when he asks us to consider what Profumo and Clinton did ‘after’, he’s referring not to Profumo’s resignation, but his many years of work among the poor in London. Clinton, so far as I can tell, has not been pursuing quite so altruistic a course, post-presidency. I’m also pretty sure that Profumo didn’t commit a crime (at any rate, I don’t believe he was ever charged with anything; the Denning report concluded that there had been no actual security breach.)


harry b 03.13.06 at 8:26 pm


thanks for not forcing me to dig myself further in. Yes, sure I think Clinton should have resigned, not for what he did with Lewinsky, or even for perjuring himself, but lying about it to the public, to his entire party and to all his supporters, thus manipulating many of them, including many of his cabinet colleagues into supporting him, which is what I would find unforgivable if I were a Democrat.

I think that Blair should have too, and also Bush, once it became clear that they could not verify the existence of so called WMDs (which is before it was beyond reaosnable doubt that this war was a disaster).

Here’s the thing, though. I wouldn’t expect Bush to devote his subsequent life to good works, because I believe he is so obviously lacking in the moral strength and insight that would lead someone to do that. (ditto Clinton, and, I think, Blair, though I find him incredibly hard to figure out).

But I bet I wouldn’t have expected Profumo to, either, if I’d been of an age to understand in 1963 (I was 0 yrs old).


harry b 03.13.06 at 8:27 pm

But josh is exactly right about what I meant!


Bob B 03.13.06 at 9:07 pm

Harry – I’m suitably impressed by John Lukacs book: Five Days in London – May 1940 (Yale UP, 1999), but then it resonates my own chauvinistic prejudices about Churchil’s great achievement in not losing the war, even if America and the Soviet Union eventually won the war. Even worse by some lights, I go along with Von Runstedt’s assessment after the war. When asked by his Soviet captors as to which battle he considered decisive, he replied: the Battle of Britain – in the summer of 1940. That’s absolutely right IMO. Had the Battle of Britain been lost – or had Churchill negotiated a settlement with Germany – there could have been no Normandy invasion in June 1944. America became embroiled in the war in Europe when Germany declared war on America three days after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Check out the account in William Shirer: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – he was in Washington at the time.

Lord Halifax has not been kindly treated by history. By some accounts, he did the job he was required to do as foreign secretary in applying Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement. By other accounts, he was basically sympathetic towards the Nazis and what they had achieved in Germany: “Halifax’s friend, Henry (Chips) Channon, reported: ‘He told me he liked all the Nazi leaders, even Goebbels, and he was much impressed, interested and amused by the visit. He thinks the regime absolutely fantastic.'”

On Profumo, the important issue was not so much the uncovered fact of his affair with Christine Keeler but that as a cabinet minister with a Ministry of Defence portfolio he was sharing a girl friend with the naval attache at the Soviet embassy in London. The fact that he denied the affair indicated that he recognised it was embarrasing and that implied he was vulnerable to being blackmailed, hence the security risk. Such particulars don’t apply to Clinton and Miss Lewinsky.

My personal interest in these events is perhaps excused by the regretable fact in retrospect that I’ve lived through almost all of them.


otto 03.13.06 at 9:27 pm

On Halifax, my corrections relate to the particular points mentioned, I don’t dispute that he has not been treated kindly by history (although he was treated kindly by Churchill, as Lukacs shows).

On the points you mention, there were of course lots of people who (stupidly or worse, I need hardly add) admired (often, parts of) what the Nazis had achieved in Germany before the war who found it did not affect their enthusiasm in killing lots of Germans when the war started. The connection some might read into your post is not really there – at least in Britain, France might be different.


jacob 03.13.06 at 10:35 pm

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for John Profumo, becuase I really like the Phil Ochs song about the scandal, which remains my primary source of information about him:


RedWolf 03.14.06 at 3:40 am

Moral priorities seem rather confused if lying about sex is a crime. Clinton should have been stoned if he came on TV and said “yes, I had sex with this woman under the Presidential desk.”


J. Goard 03.14.06 at 4:00 am

I can’t get too worked up over Clinton or Bush, when the closest thing we’ve had to an American dictator (striving to override Congress and the Court, breaking Washington’s voluntary — but very wise — two-term rule, perpetuating an economic catastrophe while drawing power from its existence) is still regarded by most as a hero.


Peter 03.14.06 at 4:19 am

Otto (post 8) wrote:

“That’s a rather tendentious summary of: Halifax’s decision to rule himself out (or he blinked first if you prefer); Halifax’s role in considering how to respond to the French government’s request for negotiations with Italy to avoid Musso entering the war; and Churchill’s role in ending that discussion, most often seen as the result of Tory ministers outside the Cabinet.”

As I recall Lukac’s book, Churchill did not just “end” the discussion as a matter of fiat as PM, since he did not yet have the political authority to do so. He pretended to go along with the idea for some time, allowing Cabinet debate while building support against it. It is clear that his behaviour was insincere. It is a sign of his political greatness that he could sense the limits of his own political power (relative to Halifax), and work to increase it, in order to achieve his ends.

Those upset about politicians telling lies need to explain why sometimes it is a good thing, as here.


dave heasman 03.14.06 at 4:53 am

Bob B & I were both of an age to follow this as it evolved, and I’m afraid that “a situation that was at the time recognised by other government ministers as a potentially serious security risk” is close to being utter bollocks.
Almost all other government ministers apart, apparently, from MacMillan, were well aware of what the old goat was up to at the time, and a lot of them were up to it too. The “national security” aspect was a ploy by Wilson & Wigg to keep the story running. If national security really had been threatened they’d all have kept schtum.


chris y 03.14.06 at 6:26 am

Clinton should have been stoned if he came on TV and said “yes, I had sex with this woman under the Presidential desk.”

If Clinton had been stoned, he probably would have said that. But he didn’t inhale – you have his word for it.

The point in 1963 was that Profumo went down not for lying to the press or the country, but for misleading the House of Commons. I know that sounds like a pedantic distinction nowadays, but I’m old enough to remember the occasion, and it certainly mattered at the time.

The extent to which the Commons was jealous of its privileges forty years ago is probably unimaginable to anybody under 50. If MacMillan had wanted to support his minister, he could have embargoed the subject in the media (issued a “D” notice) and no more would have been heard of it – they could get away with that sort of thing then. But as soon as Profumo stood up in the house and denied shagging Keeler, he was toast.

It’s a measure of the extent to which Thatcher and Blair particularly have undermined Parliament that today this would probably be seen as the least of his offences. After all, there was a security issue involved, and ministers these days regularly use this as an excuse to mislead the House. In fact, a latter day Profumo could probably say, “So sue me, Mr Speaker”, and walk away from the issue.


Bob B 03.14.06 at 7:07 am

Otto – Huge efforts have gone into smearing Conservatives in Britain for appeasement of Hitler and for condoning fascism – such as Michael Foot’s famous polemic: The Guilty Men (1940).

Supposedly, the Cambridge spies/traitors (Burgess, Maclean, Philby, Blunt and (?) John Cairncross) were motivated to do what they did on behalf of the Soviet Union because Conservative governments of the 1930s were soft on opposing fascism:

“The fact is that the rearmament programme was seriously begun under Baldwin [Britain’s prime minister 1923-1924; 1924-1929; 1935-1937] pushed along more slowly than Churchill wanted, but more quickly than the opposition advocated. Defence spending, pegged at about 2.5 per cent of GNP until 1935, increased to 3.8 per cent by 1937.” [Peter Clarke: Hope and Glory: Britain 1900-1990 (Penguin,1997), p.187]

A white paper of March 1935 announced the then Conservative government’s commitment to stepping up rearmament: “In a major reversal of rearmament policy Britain today announced new expansion plans for its army, navy and air force. The plans, in a defence white paper, are to demonstrate that Britain does not take lightly Germany’s continuing rearmament.”,,126998,00.html

That was at a time when George Lansbury – Labour Party leader (1931-5) until he lost his Parliamentary seat at the general election of November 1935 – was a pacificist and opposed all rearmament on principle.

Neville Chamberlain, Baldwin’s successor as Conseravtive PM, was certainly naive in believing that he “could do business with Hitler” and which resulted in the Munich agreement of September 1938 on the issue of German proposals for annexing the (German speaking) Sudetenland region of Czecho-Slokakia. But Chamberlain and the government soon came to recognise the realities when Hitler completed the annexation of Czecho-Slovakia in the following March of 1939. The government’s response then was to make an unsolicited offer of a treaty to Poland to defend its territorial integrity against aggression. It was on the basis of that treaty obligation that Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 failing a response to an ultimatum calling on Germany to halt the invasion of Poland that had started on 1 September. Thus started WW2.

The Soviet Union contracted a Friendship Treaty with Nazi Germany on 28 September 1939 when Britain and France were already at war with Germany. That treaty, among other issues, provided for the friendly exchange of military liaison officers between the armies of Germany and the Soviet Union across their new mutual border running across what had previously been Poland’s national territory. [Norman Davies: Europe (OUP, 1996) p.1000]

The German invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on 22 June 1941, came as a complete surprise to Stalin, who had been dismissing incoming intelligence reports warning of a prospective invasion – from Soviet agents and from Churchill – as so much “disinformation”. Stalin had trusted Hitler.

In the context, we can sensibly probe why so much effort has been invested in damning Chamberlain for appeasement. Admittedly, he had been naive but his over-riding motivation in 1938 was to avoid the carnage of another European war – hence: “peace in our time” on his return from Munich. The rational interpretation of events on the evidence is that the self-styled left and fellow travellers have desperately needed to divert attention for their complicity in wittingly or unwittingly supporting Nazi Germany.

There is worse. Fascism and Nazism are fundamentally “leftist” ideologies. Mussolini was a socialist before he went on to found the Fasci di Combattimento in 1919. The fundamental programme of the National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazis) of February 1920 was a socialist as well as a virulently racist manifesto. Robert Conquest, in his study of Stalin (Weidenfeld, 2000), notes an event which yields a valuable insight. The British ambassador to Nazi Germany in 1936 reported back to the foreign office that the contingent of ex-Communists in a march past of the SA [Sturmabteilung] – the Nazi brown shirts – in Berlin was the best turned out.

As Professor Brustein puts it: “The Nazi Party leaders were savvy enough to realise that pure racial anti-semitism would not set the party apart from the pack of racist, anti-semitic, and ultranationalist groups that abounded in post-1918 Germany. Instead, I would suggest, the Nazi success can be attributed largely to the economic proposals found in the party’s programs, which in an uncanny fashion integrated elements of 18th and 19th century nationalist-etatist philosophy with Keynesian economics. Nationalist etatism is an ideology that rejects economic liberalism and promotes the right of the state to intervene in all spheres of life including the economy.” [The Logic of Evil – The Social Origins of the Nazi Party 1925-33 (Yale UP, 1996) p.51].

A project of public works to cut unemployment in the depression in Britain had been proposed in a Liberal Party pamphlet co-authored by Keynes for the 1929 general election with the title of: Can Lloyd George Do It? By a curious irony Keynes went to give a lecture in Germany in January 1932 [DE Moggridge: Maynard Keynes; (1992) p.539] so it’s seems likely his policy ideas were picked up then by the Nazis and very likely inspired Strasser’s proposals made later that year for a Nazi programme to create jobs by public works.

Anyway, Lloyd George later made a visit to Germany in 1936 when he met Hitler and was sufficiently impressed by that experience to say afterwards: “Fuehrer is the proper name for him. He is a great and wonderful leader.” Lloyd George was the last Liberal prime minister in Britain (1916-22).

As for the cry in demonstrations in those times for an anti-fascist front, who this side of sanity in the late 1930s could or would have depended on any common front engaging the Soviet Union given the Ukraine famine of 1932/3 (an inevitable consequence of Stalin’s policy announced in December 1929 to “eliminate the kulaks as a class” to solve the Agrarian Problem), the Moscow show trials starting in 1936 or the execution of 98 out of the 139 members of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party on Stalin’s orders?

All that relating background is almost invariably omitted for convenience from the routine denunciations of appeasement.


Bob B 03.14.06 at 7:16 am

Dave: “is close to being utter bollocks”

Thanks, Dave. I was going by a clip in a recent BBC radio broadcast about the Profumo affair taken from an interview in 1963 by Bob Mackenzie (LSE) of Hailsham – a cabinet minister at the time – in which Hailsham said (heatedly) that of course there was a security risk if a minister with a defence portfolio was involved with a girl who was also seeing the Soviet naval attache.


harry b 03.14.06 at 7:29 am


Clinton committed perjury. But the reason he should have resigned — or at least should have been stoned by every single Democrat, is that he lied to his party (via the public) thus effectively depriving the party of leadership for the subequent 2 years and…well, perhaps the subequent 8 years is a better guess. I think the Democrtats have still to recover. And I see no prospect ofthem doing so. Not all his fault — but I think a leader of any European party who did what he did would have been forced by its members to resign.


Bob B 03.14.06 at 9:39 am

Harry – I followed from afar and mostly online the unfolding of the Clinton-Lewinsky saga and at the time engaged in many online debates with Americans. Throughout, as I recall, polls showed a steady c. 60% support among the American public for Clinton. It quickly became predictable that the impeachment tactic was going to fail if only because it went against the grain of public sentiment and so it proved to be.

Switch contexts: when Clinton has visited Britain since he has been spontaneously and warmly welcomed. He is noticeably at ease here and people here evidently feel at ease with him. When Bush makes a visit here he has to be so heavily guarded to protect his security that there is no prospect of any spontaneous displays whatever and that’s probably a wise precaution. My personal guess is that many here associate with the recent assessment of a columnist in the London Times:

“The President is a dolt: For the past five years, America has been led by a president who is clearly not up to the job — a man who is not just inarticulate, but lacking in judgment, intelligence, integrity, charisma or staying power. Yet America as a nation seems to be stronger, more prosperous and self-confident than ever.”,,1061-2020738,00.html

On the evidence, I’m simply unpersuaded that the problems of the Democrats are all down to Clinton. The more obvious and convincing diagnosis is that the Democrats are too fragmented and have no coherent voice on any of the issues of moment – the Iraq war, trade liberalisation, fiscal policy etc. That, not Clinton, is the central problem of the Democrats. If he could restand for the presidency, my guess is that he would be re-elected.


Jaybird 03.14.06 at 11:44 am

Harry, a quick way out of this is just to say that Bush is worse than Hitler and deserves to be sodomized in Hell for all eternity. Spend five or six paragraphs on this one point.

Then say that maybe Clinton should have resigned for lying.

You’ll have to deal with maybe only 60% of the “BUT WHAT ABOUT BUSH!!!!” comments.


Ray 03.14.06 at 12:13 pm

I’ve seen these comments re Bill Clinton and philanthropy:

— Clinton, so far as I can tell, has not been pursuing quite so altruistic a course, post-presidency.

— I wouldn’t expect Bush to devote his subsequent life to good works, because I believe he is so obviously lacking in the moral strength and insight that would lead someone to do that. (ditto Clinton . . .

I have my problems with Clinton, mainly in re to a squandering of his talent and political skills. But the charges against him here are wildly unfair. Let’s see . . . He based his foundation in Harlem, boosting economic development in that area, he and his foundation have been committed to fighting AIDS worldwide, he headed (with George H.W. Bush) the fundraising efforts for victims of the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, has raised billions for an effort to fight poverty and global climate change, etc. What else do you want him to do? You can read more about this at:

And please note that I don’t work for him or anything. I just think you’re giving him way too hard of a time, when most of us don’t do 1/32nd of the charitable work he’s done–neither did many other former presidents.


Peter 03.14.06 at 1:05 pm

Ray —

Bubba established his Foundation in Harlem only after there was an outcry about him establishing it downtown, in a much richer part of Manhattan.

Deft political touch or what?!


Ray 03.14.06 at 2:36 pm

Well, he still could’ve moved out to Jersey. But yeah . . . He’s probably done more for downtown Little Rock, regardless, from what I could tell from visiting there over the summer.

In any case, Bubba doesn’t have to sell all his valuables and go live in a shack while teaching kids how to read and whatnot, does he? And wouldn’t it be more moral for a person to do his or her charitable work in as nearly an anonymous fashion as possible? What’s the standard here? Would he ever deserve to overcome Monica’s effect on his historical legacy anyway?


Barry 03.14.06 at 3:43 pm

bob b, thanks for pointing that out. Harry, I’d place the majority of the lack of leadership on the, frankly, quislings who control the Democratic Party leadership. Notice that when Bush put his fraudulent first budget on the table, they almost trampled each other in their willingness to sign. Even in 2005, they only opposed Social Security destruction when it became clear that they didn’t have to lead, merely pose in front of those doing the work.

I honestly believe that a large number of them figure that they can have a nice career as the GOP slowly destroys the Democratic Party.


josh 03.14.06 at 4:14 pm

Sorry Ray — when I wrote ‘so far as I can tell’, I should have instead written ‘so far as I know, which really isn’t very far at all’. I do think that there is a difference between actually working directly with the poor, and starting a high-profile charitable foundation — I don’t know how much direct contact Clinton has with those his foundation is helping — but you’re right, the latter is admirable as well. I retract any slur on Clinton’s post-presidential altruism I may have made.
Not so criticism of Clinton’s conduct over the Lewinsky business: I’m inclined to assign less importance to it in the Democrats’ subsequent woes than is Harry, but I do think it was deeply damaging and demoralising for many in the party (and also effectively scuttled much of his second term: even if the impeachment failed to remove Clinton from office, it did effectively overshadow his own agenda for quite some time). I also do think that, while perfect honesty is not to be expected from politicians, those who take an oath to uphold the law of the land ought not to break the law. Profumo, at least, was legally innocent, even if he did offend against the standards of Parliamentary conduct. (And yes, illegal wiretaps are also an example of breaking the law).


Barry 03.14.06 at 6:18 pm

josh, at this point it’s clear that comparing Clinton’s actual crimes to Bush’s is like comparing a petty thief with a career criminal. I’m not impressed by people who strain at Clinton, but swallow Bushes. Harry’s original comparison was extremely bad; it ignored the difference between a cabinet minister and a president.


josh 03.15.06 at 2:51 am

I don’t disagree, Barry; I don’t see that anyone here is ‘swallowing’ Bush’s crimes, or equating them with Clinton’s (my point was that both, as president, have violated laws they swore to uphold; Bush’s violation I think is far more significant — which isn’t to say, however, that Clinton’s was not significant at all). I do think that Harry expressed the idea that, as far as MOTIVES for wrongdoing go, well-intentioned misjudgment is more sympathetic than crass self-interest (which is what I took him to be saying vis a vis the Clinton/Bush comparison) poorly — as he’s acknowledged in this thread (#3). As for the Clinton/Profumo comparison, I agree that there’s a difference between presidents and cabinet ministers, but I’m not sure that comparisons of the actions of the two need be ‘extremely bad’: both are public officials, in whom trust has been placed; and in Profumo’s case, his position was pretty important to the security of his country. So some comparison of Clinton and Profumo as politicians who lied about affairs they had had, and whose lying about said affairs seriously damaged those who had trusted and depended on them (that is, their parties/government/adminstration) seems apt, even if one should also note the differences. Bush, I agree, is a different case, since his deceptions have been of a very different sort, with different sorts of consequences. But I don’t think Harry would deny this.


soru 03.15.06 at 5:29 am

It’s a measure of the extent to which Thatcher and Blair particularly have undermined Parliament that today this would probably be seen as the least of his offences.

It might be a case of stressing the irony too much, but I think to some extent it was true that it was the atrophy of the press censorship system that led to the growth of prime ministerial powers at the expense of parliament. One of the significant roles of parliament was as a place where anything could be said, and reported as being said. These days, we have the Today programme.

Sampson’s updated issue of ‘anatomy of britain’ had 3 big circles representing the ‘powers that be’ – the rich, the PM (and aides), and the media. All the other actors (parliament, unions, military, judges, etc) are small circles, occupied mainly with defending their own turf, not fighting the big battles.

There have been weak PM’s since things become that way (e.g. major), and they have been eaten for breakfast by the media. And the rich may sometimes buy politicians, but they own the media on a more permanent and formal basis.

One way of looking at things is that only the media is standing between the country and a ‘big man’ dictatorship. But the other is that only the PM is standing between the country and government by Daily Mail/Fox News headline writers.

Worst case, you get both, as in Italy.

Even in america, which generally has a much weaker media establishment, Bush could not push through the Dubai ports deal against the Fox News agenda.


Rick 03.15.06 at 10:48 am

Regarding the Democrats, I would be reluctant to lay their current difficulties at the feet of the Lewinsky scandal. It’s been five years already, after all. We’ve got a Republican president who cuts taxes for rich people, invades countries without cause, oversees a regime of torture, is truly disinterested when a hurricane leads to the flooding of a major city, and violates the FISA law.

The Democratic response has been tepid. Today’s meme is how many more Democratic senators wanted to censure Clinton than Bush.

Clinton made some political hay out of running away from the traditional Democratic positions. What we see now is the logical conclusion of this process, a party whose leaders are all running away from their base. (With the noteworthy exception of Russ Feingold.)

At some point the Democrats need to realize that the fault lies not in the stars, but in themselves.


harry b 03.16.06 at 10:12 am

I’ve been away a couple of days, and probably no-one is following this any more. I didn’t mean to lay the Democrats’ current troubles entirely at Clinton’s door, and I realise that his failure to resign was as much a symptom as a cause of the problems the Dems had and still have. Nor did I mean to equate what he did with what Bush has done in terms of outcomes, and was pretty clear about that (eventually!) as josh pointed out.

I am more or less entirely mystified by the goodwill people vaguely on the left extend to Clinton, assuming it must all be down to some sort of partisanship. I pointed out why I think he should have stepped down, and no-one has really explained why the following combination of acts do not constitute a resigning offence (albeit a much less serious one than leading people into a failed war, even with the best of intentions and information, assuming that is what Bush had, which I don’t):

1) committing pejury
2) very publicly lying to the entire public about the matter on which one has committed perjury
3) lying to one’s own party about the same matter with the presumption that its members will defend you
4) as 3) except to one’s cabinet members some number of whom are one’s friends
5) being found out in time to make it almost impossible for one’s vice president to figure out how to relate to one in the subsequent election in which he is by far the most likely candidate.

So, could any Western European party leader have survived that?


Chris Williams 03.16.06 at 7:34 pm

A 1940 spotter writes:

(1) Churchill was First Lord (Navy Minister) not Sea Lord (top Admiral).

(2) Partly because I don’t trust Nazi generals, but mostly because it’s not true, I don’t buy the significance of the Battle of Britain. In a nutshell:


Sverre Helgesen 03.18.06 at 2:33 am

I’m truelly amazed to see today’s politicians getting away with blue murder, but I think it’s always been like that, it’s just that the media plays a much bigger role today – TV and satelites bringing us instant, indepth news right into our homes – and we have a far more aggressive media today (that unfortunate Al Grahib (?) jail business for example, which wasn’t and isn’t unique, such things are standard operating procedure. An aside: have you noticed that no officers are ever courtmartialled? Aren’t they responsible for the soldiers under their command, anymore?) Another thing; today’s politicians are usually lawyers, and see to it they can’t be pinned down…personally. Teflon Tony lives on this. ‘I haven’t lied about WMD!’ True, he sees to it he has bumph to back his statements, bumph supplied by faceless – and unaccountable – party workers. That the bumph is a lie isn’t his fault…legally. And Clinton didn’t lie, he just has another view to the rest of the world of what and what isn’t sex!

I only met John Profumo briefly, twice, the first time he was picking up Chris at Ward’s, to go out for a drive and afternoon tea, there’s a photo out on the net Ward took only seconds before Profumo arrived, Chris sitting in an armchair, Ward’s briefcase just behind her right shoulder. Chris is looking at me! (Well, I was a gorgeous boy…) His wife was one of a team of ladies and gents into helping victims of child and wife abuse, trying to find a way of stopping it. Ward did a lot of work for St. Barnardo’s, helping traumatised kids, the press never mentioned that, nor the fact that he never passed East Grinstead without stopping to visit the burned RAF pilots there, having worked with them during the war. I know this, I was with him. Other members were Claire Raynor (cousin to John Mills wife, Mary, who went to school with the lady who started this group, the wife of one of my teachers at Quernmore in Bromley) Mary Woodhouse, Marlene Redman (the Honda roadracer’s wife) Mrs. Carruthers, one of my teachers (husband commanded a regiment of tanks in the desert, actress Jenny Agutter’s father was one of his officers) and 17-18 year old Lady Jaqueline Rufus-Isaacs of Reading, a rape victim herself, as were most of the others in the group, yes, a sad fact. Profumo himself was a silent member, waiting until he was prime minister so he could begin pushing for reform. Most of the violence in society was poverty-based, so wiping out poverty and giving people better housing were on the top of his list. As was sex-education. Profumo and his wife knew that the pill was on the way, and this would cause great distress if the kids weren’t educated how to deal with the free-sex that would follow. Ward had been doing research into sex and teen sex for 2 of the world’s leading psychiatrists, Professor’s Miller and Asher (they had to keep a low profile, this research was illegal) Professor Raphael Cilento was involved too (actress Diane’s dad, Sean Connery’s first wife?) so they were nearly there already when it came up.

So I wasn’t suprised when I heard that Profumo gave his life to charity-work after the scandal. He was like that.

And it was a scandal, he was framed, it was a setup. Dangerous business, to do with the freemasons, black occult rituals, human sacrifice, by people in high places. Powerful people. Mariella Novotny was murdered to stop her publishing her book, they missed Lady Dymphna Shagwell-Ironside but her secret diaries of those days have now apparently been bought from Martin Baker, the man she trusted to publish them after her death, and thus her story has been suppressed, too. She trusted the wrong guy. Dusty Springfield had a document that would crush Britain. She kept it in a bankbox in the USA, but who has it now she’s dead, I just don’t know. Both she and I witnessed it.
But the truth will come out one day, I’ll see to that. But it’s so fantastic, will people believe it?

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