The Sunday TimesPlus

13th April 1997



Clinton had affair with my wife, claims banker

Jim McDougal, who was Bill and Hillary Clinton’s partner in the Whitewater project, is claiming that his former wife, Susan, will not co-operate with prosecutors because she had an affair with the President.

CartoonThe charge is the focus of new inquiries by Kenneth Starr, the Whitewater independent counsel, into a possible motive for President Clinton’s alleged involvement in an illegal loan when he was Governor of Arkansas.

It follows signals from Mr Starr’s office that he was weighing the consequences of indicting the President, Mrs Clinton and senior White House aides involved in the scandals surrounding the Administration.

Mrs McDougal is serving an 18-month sentence for civil contempt charges. She had refused last year to answer questions before the grand jury in Little Rock about whether Mr Clinton gave truthful testimony at the Whitewater trial of herself, her former husband and Jim Guy Tucker, the President’s successor as Governor.

Mr McDougal, who owned Madison Guaranty, the bank at the heart of the Whitewater affair, claims that she has remained silent, handcuffed and locked in her cell, as a result of the affair in the 1980s.

"I think Susan has gone to enormous lengths, and personally damaged herself, attempting to suppress discussion of this matter," Mr McDougal told the New York Post recently.

In a dramatic reversal of his previous testimony, Mr McDougal is also said to have told prosecutors that Mr Clinton was present at a meeting in 1986 where an illegal loan of $300,000 from the Small Business Administration to Mrs McDougal was discussed.

Mr McDougal claimed he learnt of the alleged affair in 1982, when his wife had just returned from a trip to Europe and he intercepted a call between the couple when he tried to call her at home.

"How should I say this? They were intimate, the former banker told The New Yorker magazine. "This may be difficult to understand, but I didn’t really care. Our relationship had evolved.... we had become more business partners, companions."

Interviewed in prison, Mrs McDougal said her former husband had deliberately concocted the story to commute the 84-year sentence he faces after he was convicted on 18 charges last year.

"He’s lying," she said. "I’m a small-town country girl, a Southern Baptist. I wouldn’t do it....

Jim wanted me to have an affair with Clinton. The truth is he said he would not have sex with me again.... but he did want me to have sex with other people."

Under normal circumstances, the alleged relationship between Mr Clinton and Mrs McDougal would be irrelevant. America has long believed that Mr Clinton was a philanderer during his Arkansas days; and the sexual harassment suit brought by Paula Jones, a former state employee who claims he asked her to perform oral sex, has merely confirmed that belief.

But prosecutors believe that any close relationship between Mr Clinton and Mrs McDougal could explain the allegation by David Hale, an Arkansas banker, that the then Governor pressed him to solicit the $300,000 from the Small Business Administration.

On his own, Mr McDougal is not seen as a credible witness. He has changed his story too often. He now says he failed five lie detector tests at the start of the inquiry, when he was trying to protect Mr Clinton by saying the President had no involvement in the loan.

There is no doubt, however, that Mr Starr is taking the matter seriously. Last week he obtained a delay in sentencing on the basis that Mr McDougal was offering "important new" information.

Pat Harris, Mrs McDougal’s partner since she separated from her husband, said he did not believe the two were having an affair. But, he said, they were always flirting.

"The whole sexual atmosphere in that place was something that I didn’t want her around. And, yes, I was jealous of Bill Clinton," said Mr Harris.

Separately Mr Starr is investigating Webster Hubbell, Mr Clinton’s former golfing partner, who later resigned from the Justice Department. Mr Starr is trying to discover whether Hubbell, now finishing a 20- month prison term, was paid six-figure consulting contracts as hush money.

Neither the White House nor Mr Clinton’s lawyers had any comment.

- The Times, London

Cars are a blessing turning into a curse

The automobile is unquestionably a blessing but there is a price to be paid for it

Last summer, Thailand’s deputy prime minister proposed banning new cars in Bangkok from next year until 2001: this in a country that has set itself up to be the centre of automobile production in Southeast Asia. It may be an unusually desperate move, but it reflects widespread woes.

In Japan, a new beltway planned for Tokyo is on hold because of an unprecedented outbreak of citizen dissent. Surging public opposition has brought road-building almost to a halt in Britain, not for selected roads, but nationwide. In California, the Bank of America together with citizens’ groups and a state agency, has called for an about face away from auto-dependent sub-urban development.

"Unchecked sprawl,"its report finds, "has shifted from an engine of California’s growth to a force that threatens to inhibit growth and degrade our quality of life."

The message and the data to support it have been around for years, but coming from the state’s largest bank and beneficiary of real estate development have had a wholly new impact.

All this explains why The Economist chose to celebrate this year’s 100th birthday of the world’s largest manufacturing industry with a section titled ‘Taming the Beast’. In its words, "The product that has so strongly shaped the urban world we live in, and brought such wealth and such pleasure, is now seen by many as a blessing turning into a curse."

For years, economists and environmentalists have been pointing to high costs associated with auto- reliance that are borne (though not always paid for) by all of society. Among the direct ones are parking subsidies, roads and services worth more than $100 billion annually above what drivers pay in taxes and other fees.

Losses not reflected in market transactions include those resulting from congestion, air pollution, noise, accidents and securing the flow of oil.

Conservative estimates put the sum of all these in the neighbourhood of five per cent of GDP for the United States and slightly less for Europe. But even that doesn’t capture the costs of sprawl - low-density development that depends on the automobile and can only be served by it.

In a now familiar sequence, developers reach for the cheapest land, out in the cow pastures. Government is left to fill in behind with brand new infrastructure - roads, sewerage systems and schools - paid for in part by those whose existing roads and schools are left to decline. Property values rise in a ring that marches steadily outward from the city and fall in older suburbs inside the moving edge.

Because residential development can’t meet the public bills, local governments compete for commercial investment with tax discounts that deplete their revenues still further. Property taxes then rise, providing an incentive for new development.

Years of such leap-frogging construction devours land at an astonishing pace. New York and Chicago have grown 12 times as fast in area as in population for decades. Unbelievable as it may seem, only 45 years ago Los Angeles was the top-producing farm county in the United States. Today, 70 per cent of its land is devoted to cars. The same fate is in store for California’s Central Valley, the country’s richest agricultural area, unless policies change, says the American Farmland Trust.

There are more subtle costs, as well. The automobile is unquestionably a blessing, but there is a price to be paid for suburbs designed for cars: They serve many of people’s needs poorly. Homes, jobs and schools are far apart. Neighbourhoods are made of strangers and cannot coalesce. A study of British cities found that for reasons of both crime and infrastructure (not wholly unrelated), the number of children who could walk to school alone fell from 80 per cent in 1970 to eight per cent last year.

Even where the space to sprawl is unavailable, strangling congestion follows when public investment tries - and inevitably fails - to keep pace with development by building more and more roads. Bangkok’s jams may be legendary, but they are no longer unusual. Even double-digit economic growth is no help. It’s part of the problem. Bangalore was India’s chief business attraction a decade ago. Now pollution, power outages and congestion are driving investment out. Having chosen automobile production as a pillar industry, China is now having second thoughts, even as it is forced to cancel transit construction because of a lack of money.

Because of land and energy shortages and pollution, China just simply cannot sustain the development of a car economy, in the opinion of a prominent scientist involved in the debate.

Meanwhile, roads are already clogged enough to hold back growth. The Chinese may not know what to do, but they have the appropriate proverb, as always: "If we do not change the direction we are going, we will end up where we are headed. Let’s hope it’s not Bangkok."

- (Gulf Weekly)

Is that a smile or a grimace? The truth about being outnumbered in a household of the opposite sex

A harem of my very own

A television director I know once won an award but his wife told me it would not change his life. "The girls will still burst into the bathroom and laugh at his accoutrements, she said.

For all that Bernie was a prize-winning director at work, at home he carried no prestige whatsoever. A male surrounded by four daughters is a singular, and frequently absurd, figure.

There is an old axiom that a man is not really a man until he has a female child. It is supposed to be something to do with men who have a low sperm count having a tendency to produce only sons.

Nevertheless, those fathers I know who have sired nothing but daughters hardly strut around the place like studs. They are much more likely to have the haunted look of an endangered species.

I used to feel sorry for Bernie the director until I met lan Rodgers, the only man in a household of five daughters, aged between three and eleven. By day, Mr. Rodgers is a businessman whose family runs the Barry Island Pleasure Park in South Wales, but when he gets home he is a lone male, outnumbered six to one.

He says: "We had Kirsty. Then we found we were having twins and I thought maybe we’d get one of each, but we had Sarah and Christina. Six years later we had Rebecca and ten months later Danielle."

He realises that his chances of having a son are receding. "On my side of the family there have been only two boys out of the last 20 children. It would have been nice to have a son. I did feel some regret to start with, but as long as the children are healthy and happy, that’s all that matters."

Any father in an overwhelmingly female family plays an odd role, by turns pampered and derided, a sultan in a subversive harem. "What gets me is the noise when you come home," Mr. Rodgers says. "I’m not saying it’s unbearable but they do tend to gang up on me, taking their mother’s side. I’m always the meanie, the big daddy who says no to things. But someone has to be.

"The children all like shopping and are very fashion conscious, but Reebok trainers cost an arm and a leg, particularly when every time they want something you end up buying five pairs."

Although there ought to be some advantages to being the only male among six females, studies show that men surrounded by a lot of women have many demands placed on them. Mr. Rodgers reckons only Christina and Danielle actually make a fuss of him. "The other three look after themselves," he says, laughing off the idea that he could be the cause of any jealousy between his daughters.

Like many men outnumbered by females, Mr. Rodgers has had to find ways of relaxing with his own gender. He has been elected chairman of the local Round Table and travels abroad for business several months of the year. Another outnumbered father I know built himself an observatory in the garden to get away from his daughters. He invariably found perfect visibility on evenings when there was a lot of teenage squabbling. Dads have always resorted to hiding, but a mother who is outnumbered by her sons usually finds it more difficult to escape. "They all come home at different times, says Marian, who has four large boys, "and they all come into the kitchen and talk to me. Then Mervyn, my husband, gets home and he wants to talk to me as well."

Faced with so many demands on her time and patience, the outnumbered mother has two choices: to join in and become one of the boys or to stand apart, a goddess among her tribe of young males.

The latter is harder to pull off but, as Baroness Thatcher once found, a group of insecure men will always respond to the firm hand of an organised woman. Marian runs her family efficiently and, to simplify matters, Mervyn gets treated like the biggest of her boys.

They each have a place by the kitchen door for their shoes and a job to do on Saturdays, "so that Mum can have a rest".

For a woman who is willing to devote so much time to running other people’s lives the rewards can be substantial. No one, not even Mervyn, plays unruly games in the house, except where unruly games are allowed, and there are boxes to which absolutely every toy or game has to be returned by bedtime.

I noticed when I called round that there were boxes clearly marked Lego, Duplo, Paint Pots and Balls.

Karen, on the other hand, is a "one of the boys" mother who will happily kick a football around with her three sons and is much more inclined to rough-and-tumble pillow fights than her husband. "It’s a way in which I can be part of their world," she explains. "If you can’t beat ‘em you’ve got to join ‘em.

Karen tries not to play the "Mummy is different" card too often. "I don’t want them thinking I’m some separate species at the mercy of my hormones. I hope that if the boys find they get on with me, and like me, they’ll like women when they grow up."

What concerns her, however, is what she misses out on as a mother without daughters. "Sometimes I buy things just because they look nice or feel good to hold, and I know a daughter would share in my enjoyment. The boys just say, ‘Oh yeah, great Mum,’ and I know they haven’t noticed."

It is only natural that outnumbered parents will have some regrets. Mr. Rodgers is sorry that he does not have a son to take to the rugby at Cardiff Arms Park, though his eldest daughters have accompanied him on occasions.

He wonders who will inherit the family business, something he would have automatically expected to see passing to a son. "Kirsty is very capable but the decision will have to be hers," he says.

He also worries about his daughters’ futures. "You can relax with a son; he can look after himself, but with girls you start worrying about them getting pregnant and that sort of thing."

Karen’s main concern is that she represents an odd full stop in the circle of life.

"Sometimes I think of his long female line stretching behind me, all these women who’ve had daughters, and I’m the last one. I won’t ever be the mother of someone who becomes a mother herself. I’ll be the mother-in-law. It won’t be a direct connection any more and that is sad."

- The Times, London

Continue to Plus page 8 -Appreciations

Return to the Plus contents page

Read Letters to the Editor

Go to the Plus Archive


Home Page Front Page OP/ED News Business

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to or to