Phyllis Schlafly, one of the chief agitators for Clinton's impeachment, told the Sun-Times she still supports Ryan because the charges are unproven and were made during a custody fight. "Sure they're disturbing. They're unpleasant," said Schlafly. "But considering where they're coming from, I would wait for the proof before judging him."
Robert Novak, the conservative commentator, said on Crossfire, "The judge allowed joint custody of their now nine-year-old son to the two parents. Number two, it was Mrs. Ryan, not Jack Ryan, who was guilty of adultery. … Jack Ryan, unlike Bill Clinton, did not commit adultery and did not lie."
House Speaker Dennis Hastert "still has a Thursday fund-raising event for Ryan on his calendar," according to Wednesday's Sun-Times. Hastert's spokesman told reporters Hastert had no comment.
Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., who voted to find Clinton guilty on both articles of impeachment five years ago, said, "Divorce cases and child custody cases are by nature acrimonious, and allegations on all sides are often unreliable or sensationalized. The Jack Ryan that I know very well is a good and decent man. … I support him and continue to support him with enthusiasm and confidence."
Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News host, fretted about the politics of personal destruction. After O'Reilly's legal analyst pointed out that Ryan hadn't denied the story and "in a Clintonesque way, splits hairs" about it, O'Reilly complained, "Just think about it, any politician or somebody thinking about running for office, if they have an ex-wife who is mad at them or an ex-girlfriend, they are dead, they are toast, because you can make any accusation in the world. … It discourages everybody from getting into the arena."
Now we know why Bill Clinton got impeached. He was in the wrong club.
The reaction to Jack Ryan right now has everything to do with the insane, trumped-up perjury entrapment of Bill Clinton by Kenneth Starr six years ago. No one really gives a shit about Jack Ryan's stupid sex life, but a lot of us are still quite angry that 1998 was a wasted year in American discourse and progress, a year in which Clinton attacked Osama bin Laden (remember him?) and was loudly accused of wag-the-dog tactics.
If the arena gets smaller, as Bill O'Reilly complains, the Republican hate machine has only itself to blame.