The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, December 17, 2004

The Ellen Rometsch strategy

As I've mentioned umpteen times, in my slight experience, net knowledge tends to come from serendipity rather than search: for search, you usually pretty much need to know the answer before you can frame a search that stands a chance of finding it.

Above all, proper names - people, places, events - are the Open, sesame!

I start with a 1998 Slate piece by Emily Yoffe Fiddling Around: How the media (reluctantly) came to report on Clinton's sexual behavior.

Yoffe's claim - that the media gave the Great Fornicator a free pass for his Arkansas shenanigans - I'll leave aside for the moment [1]. But she mentions in a compare and contrast John Kennedy and his string of floozies - including Ellen Rometsch.

Name sounded familiar. And it boomerangs back to Clinton: the third item on a search of the woman's name comes up with a filing in the DC District Court headed Motion for an Emergency Order Compelling the Deposition of George Stephanopoulos.

And why? On February 8 1998, GS was interviewed on the ABC show This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts [2]:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS ...there's a different, long-term strategy, which I think would be far more explosive. White House allies are already starting to whisper about what I'll call the Ellen Rometsch strategy...

She was a girlfriend of John F. Kennedy, who also happened to be an East German spy. And Robert Kennedy was charged with getting her out of the country and also getting John Edgar Hoover to go to the Congress and say, don't you investigate this, because if you do, we're going to open up everybody's closets. And I think that in the long run, the have a deterrent strategy on getting a lot of...

SAM DONALDSON... Are you suggesting for a moment that what their beginning to say is that if you investigate this too much, we'll put all your dirty linen right on the table? Every member of the Senate? Every member of the press corps?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS Absolutely. The President said he would never resign, and I think some around him are willing to take everybody down with him.

This was way before I was taking notice of the minutiae of DC doings - but, though GS speaks of Clinton and his White House with same detachment he might have used for Thomas Jefferson, I seem to recall that, officially or unofficially, he was pretty damned close to the action there himself most of the time!

The motion for GS's deposition was filed by Judicial Watch, an outfit supported by, amongst others, emanations of the Scaife family, in the case of Alexander et al v FBI (96-2123) (list of documents), better known, I believe [3], as Filegate. The motion was granted, and GS was deposed (twice) - discussion of the Ellen Rometsch strategy starts here.

At some stage, GS walked out of the deposition(s); he claimed reporter's privilege (topical note!).

My interest has yet to be piqued sufficiently to do anything remotely resembling research: interesting, though, that Paul Begala, in his deposition in the Filegate case, was taxed with extracts from Seymour Hersh's book on Kennedy The Dark Side of Camelot which had its problems sorting fact from fiction [4].

In 1964, one Clark Molenhoff had written a piece alleging connections between Rometsch and the JFK White House (Q405)
'...which was, in fact, incorrect,' [Bobby] Kennedy said. 'I looked into the files,' he added, with obvious indignation, and 'she had been tied up with a lot of people at the Capitol. I got all of the information she had and it got to large numbers on both ways, Democrats and Republicans.' His concern, Bobby Kennedy added, was for the reputation of the United States. 'I thought it was very damaging, and I spoke to the President about it. It didn't involve anybody at the White House, but I thought it would just destroy the confidence that the people in the United States had in their government. Some of the senators had Negro girlfriends and all kinds of things which were not very helpful.'

The 'President' was of course Lyndon Johnson, with whom RFK maintained a burning mutual loathing. And Rometsch was a whore pimped by none other than that Figaro of the US Senate, LBJ's right hand, Bobby Baker [5].

(Begala said he'd never heard of Rometsch, by the way.)

Which senators had Negro girlfriends? Strom Thurmond had Carrie Butler's skeleton in his cupboard, of course, and was still a noted womaniser. If the list of brown sugar devotees included a disproportionate number from Dixie, one wouldn't be surprised.

All the more piquant that this was the year in which the Civil Rights Act was passed with great difficulty, and over Thurmond's record-breaking filibuster.

Clinton certainly wasn't the only pol to compartmentalise...

  1. Except to remark that the fact that some of these shenanigans proved later to have been inventions of Hillary's VRWC does not necessarily let the media off the hook - if they had already decided to whitewash him.

  2. There is a transcript (E&OE) here down-page. The WAV file requires a codec unknown to MS or Real.

  3. JW are such prolific litigants, I couldn't be definite.

  4. The faked Marilyn Monroe/JFK documents snafu here and here and here; CSM review and 9,000 2003 CJR Hersh bio by Scott Sherman.

  5. Alluded to in a phone call (PDF) between LBJ and Katherine Graham on December 2 1963.


Searching Mr Google on various combinations (singular and plural) of senator's girlfriend comes to no more than three dozen items or so, including dupes. While "senators' negro girlfriends" and "senators' black girlfriends" produce nada. And "senator's black girlfriend"produces - a review of Bulworth.

Is it plausible that, in a Southern town like Washington, with characters like Bobby Baker - today's equivalent? - able to supply the powerful with any kind of action they desire (I'm thinking), inter-racial Senatorial sex should have left so small a footprint on the online world?

In case you're curious, senator "black girlfriend" wonkette produces precisely one off-topic item - and not even from the flame-haired temptress' own site!

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