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The Boy Can't Help It

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"Christopher was honorable with me and the kids," Meleagrou says. "He knew he did a big boo-boo, and he put up with a lot of crankiness on my part to have it all out." Meleagrou even backs her ex in the Blumenthal controversy, saying, "I have no question that Christopher was right. I trust his political judgment."

Carol Blue was in Atherton, California, visiting her parents, when Hitchens called unexpectedly on February 5 to tell her that not only had he agreed to talk to House prosecutors but that government staffers were that very moment en route to their Washington home to take his affidavit. "Christopher's call was like having something dropped on you from outer space," she recalls.

In their brief conversation, Blue says they discussed two issues: "Is this going to be good for Christopher's critique of Clinton, or will it obscure the message? And second, Sidney was our friend. What did it mean to be his friend and do this?" Wiping at her teary eyes, she says, "There must have been a moment when Hitch believed that maybe he could change the course of history."

Hitchens, amazingly enough, believed that. But he also insists that his decision to cooperate was a defining moment -- that it struck at the very heart of his own sense of identity, his place in the Washington world. Hitchens explains that a year earlier he had written a signed piece in a British newspaper, the Independent, about a lunch with someone close to the White House who had tried to plant the Monica Lewinsky stalker story -- but he didn't mention Blumenthal by name. He had already decided to go public with the tale in The Nation and was calling around for more information on the alleged White House smear machine when House Republican staffers got wind of his story.

Hitchens knew he could have refused to cooperate. "But I couldn't stand the thought of what they would have said about me," he said. He then recites this imaginary conversation -- the House staffers saying, " 'This guy has information that could help but has to live here; he can't break the conspiracy of silence about how the Clinton White House works; he's just another Washington hack.' " Hitchens didn't want to be that guy. "The White House doesn't get me to acquiesce to omerta that easily," he says. He signed his affidavit, and Blue supported him by submitting her own version two days later.

So far, Blumenthal has not spent thousands of additional dollars in legal fees, as feared, because of the affidavits; nor does he appear to be in legal jeopardy. When I mention this to Blue, she brightens with relief, but still seems to be in denial about the potential repercussions of her actions. "If Sidney had additional legal bills," she insists, "it wouldn't have been because of us, it would have been due to working for Clinton."

Hitchens says, "It'll blow over. It shall." And of course, all Washington scandals eventually do. But Hitchens isn't likely to lie low. Inevitably, he will find a new way to make mischief. After all, he's an agitator, a bad boy. "I am frightened, really frightened, of being bored," he tells me late one evening, in the tone of a small child fearful of the dark. "Boredom creates a physical sensation of terror in me." Lives like his are not for the faint of heart; sometimes boring is better.


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