We and Mrs. Jones
Why should Texans care about Paula Jones’s lawsuit against the president? A Dallas connection is one of its distinguishing characteristics.
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If it happened at all, it happened more than six years ago in Little Rock, which seems to have been Gomorrah in the Ozarks: Paula Jones, at the time 24, alleges she was propositioned in a hotel room by then-governor Bill Clinton. Most people know that Clinton denies the charge, that Jones has filed a sexual harassment suit, and that, thanks to what she says are its “distinguishing characteristics,” the president’s no-longer-private parts will be exhibit A when the matter is tried in federal court next May. Most people don’t know, however, that three Dallasites have roles in the case.
First of all, there’s Donovan Campbell, Jr., whom Jones hired as her lead attorney in October. Campbell has been portrayed in the press as a right-wing nut who picketed a Dallas performance of the gay-themed play Torch Song Trilogy (false, he says) and fought to reinstate Texas’ anti-sodomy law (true), but he insists that he’s been a champion of civil rights for twenty years—and he notes that the gender discrimination charge at the heart of the Jones case “is more leftist than rightist.”
Then there are two self-described former mistresses of Clinton’s who’ve been subpoenaed by the Jones team—the presumption being that they’ve seen him naked, so they should be able to vouch for the distinguishing characteristics. Such a discussion may seem tacky, but this is the crux of the case; in fact, the president’s lawyer, Robert Bennett, addressed the matter on October 12 on Face the Nation: “In terms of size, shape, direction . . . the president is a normal man,” he said.
What do the women themselves say? Attorney Dolly Kyle Browning, who this spring published a pulpy fictionalized account of her alleged 33-year relationship with Clinton, Purposes of the Heart (Reporter, “Low Talk,” July 1997), is mum about her October 28 deposition. But this June, she told Texas Monthly what she thinks about the Jones case: “He’s never had any trouble finding women when he wants them, so for him to force his attentions on someone against her will sounds out of character.”
Gennifer Flowers, by contrast, is happy to talk specifics, as she was in 1992 when she told tabloid readers of her twelve-year relationship with Clinton. The fortysomething entertainer—who will perform standards by Lena Horne and Billie Holiday when The Gennifer Flowers Show with the Art Osborne Orchestra goes on tour next month—was deposed on November 14; ten days earlier she told TM that she “can’t imagine” what the distinguishing characteristics could be. “There are no tattoos or moles,” she said. What about rumors that the president’s fundraising isn’t the only thing that’s crooked? “I know based on my sexual experience that most men are slanted to one side or another.”
Still, Flowers left open the possibility that Jones isn’t lying: “I suppose something could have happened to him after I stopped seeing him.” And she was clearly sympathetic to another woman whose story of a liaison with Clinton has come under attack: “I believe two people played tickle in a hotel room. I have no idea if he did what she said. But so many people speculated about my credibility that I hesitate to do that to anyone else.”