The Memory Hole

October 28, 2007

Funny, isn’t it, how the 1960s continue to loom large in the collective mind of the pundit class, a dread specter of radicalism to be held up as a warning whenever somebody suggests that it might be a good thing to give people better and more efficient healthcare, or to avoid dropping bombs on dark-skinned foreigners unless it is absolutely necessary.

And yet, the demented excesses of the Republican Party in the 1990s and the accompanying anti-Clinton jihad — in which every hoary bit of gossip was dredged up from the swamps of Arkansas and presented, still dripping, to the public as further evidence of Bill Clinton’s “character issue” — seem to dwindle and fade from the pundit memory, even as members of the jihad continue to enjoy successful public careers.

Since many of the pundits were themselves enthusiastic enablers of the jihadis, it’s no surprise that they are now trying to throw their work down the memory hole. That’s why we need people like Bob Somerby and tristero, who caught Gail Collins musing on Mike Huckabee’s election prospects while applying a fresh coat of forgetfulness to one of the most sordid legacies of the conservative anti-Clinton jihad — one that involved an actual death, not the imaginary deaths from “Clinton flu” confabulated by cranks and marketed by creeps. It is the story of Wayne DuMond. Tristero sets the scene:

Who the hell is Wayne DuMond? I’m glad you asked. Let’s start here with “Murray Waas’ prize-winning article for the Arkansas Times in 2002” about how far Mike Huckabee went to win good old boy Wayne Dumond’s freedom. Turns out, Mr. Dumond raped a young girl. Said girl identified him. Some inexcusable things happened to Mr. Dumond at the hands of some sick Deliverance wannabes and an equally psychopathic sheriff, about which more later. Mr. Dumond went to jail.

Then things got interesting. “Interesting.” Y’might wanna remember that word. Anyway, Mr. Dumond became a rightwing cause celebre for several reasons related to then governor Bill Clinton who wouldn’t pardon him. it just so happens that the girl who was raped was Clinton’s distant relative. Get it? Dumond’s mutilation (see below) and incarceration was Clintonian- style revenge.

To make a long, sleazy story shorter, Governor Huckabee, who succeeded Jim Guy Tucker who succeeded Bill Clinton, really, really believed Dumond got a “raw deal.” Huckabee was, as you might expect nearly totally clueless about the actual details of Dumond’s case. His sources for the passion of his belief in Dumond’s “raw deal?”

Would you be surprised to learn that Huckabee was going on the say-so of a wingnut preacher who used his radio squawk-time to proclaim that DuMond had been railroaded because the girl he kidnapped and raped was a distant cousin of Bil Clinton? Or that this wingnuttery was also supported by New York Post columnist Steven Dunleavy?

So Huckabee pardoned DuMond, and guess what happened next?

In August 2000, Dumond moved to Smithville, Mo., a rural community outside Kansas City. He had married a woman from the community who was active in a church group that had visited Dumond in prison and believed him to be innocent.

Only six weeks after Dumond moved to Missouri, Carol Sue Shields, of Parkville, Mo., was found murdered in a friend’s home. She had been sexually assaulted and suffocated.

In late June 2001, Missouri authorities charged Dumond with the first-degree murder of Shields. The Clay County, Mo., prosecutor’s office asserted that skin found under Shield’s fingernails, the result of an apparent struggle with her murderer, contained DNA that matched Dumond’s.

Missouri authorities also say that Dumond is the leading suspect in the rape and murder of a second woman, Sara Andrasek, of Platte County, Mo., though he has not yet been charged with that crime.

Andrasek was 23. Like Shields, Andrasek had her brassiere cut from her body; Dumond cut Stevens’ bra off before he raped her.

“It’s as if he wanted to leave us his calling card,” a Missouri law enforcement officer said.

So, Mike Huckabee — who didn’t bother to examine DuMond’s record, where he would have found ample evidence of vicious sexual violence against a number of women in the past — pardons DuMond on the basis of wingnut theories pointing to Bill Clinton’s involvement. Why were the nutcases so fixated on DuMond? Here’s where the story takes an even more grotesque Flannery O’Connor turn. While awaiting trial for the 1985 rape, DuMond was found lying in his trailer, his testicles slashed off. Though local authorities suspected the wounds were self-inflicted — something not unheard of among sexual psychopaths — DuMont claimed he’d been attacked by two men, one of whom said afterward that “Mr. C would be proud.” This was catnip to the conspiracy buffs, who decided that DuMond had been castrated on Bill Clinton’s orders. The cause of truth wasn’t helped by an Arkansas lawman’s astonishingly sick decision to display the testicles in a jar, which only fueled rumors of vigilante violence.

Collins, in her New York Times column, skipped over these gruesome facts to make chirpy, Maureen Dowd-style comments to the effect that Huckabee was in bad odor with the GOP because he supported better healthcare for children.

Somerby has devoted years to chronicling the press-inflicted damage on Bill Clinton and Al Gore, and he delivers the valedictory to Gail Collins’ work:

It’s Hard Pundit Law in New York and DC: The lunacy of the 1990s must be disappeared. You have to pretend that you can’t understand why Hillary Clinton is hated so much. (Disappeared: The fact that mainstream news orgs, all through the 1990s, allowed the nation’s biggest crackpots to accuse a first lady of serial murders.) You have to pretend that you don’t really know what happened to Candidate Gore. (Disappeared: The fact that the simpering apes of our mainstream press corps conducted a two-year war on his candidacy.) And now, you even invent fairy tales in which Governor Huckabee did what he did because he was so filled with compassion  — compassion DuMond appeared to deserve! (Disappeared: The utterly lunatic Clinton-hating which drove this event, which still helps fuel our politics.) As they giggle their way through their bowdlerized columns, there’s nothing these people won’t type and say to disappear the 1990s — in whose lunacy they and their news orgs played so vital a part. Kept from hearing about that insanity, we live with its ugly, inane, grimy aftermath, every single day of our lives.

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