During one of the many adjournments in the 1999 presidential impeachment trial, my colleague David Frum and I corralled a liberal columnist of some prominence and went off to share a decaf latte. Frum wanted to know why no stellar media leftie had as yet turned on the president, as the right did on Nixon. Our companion ummed and ahhed and tried various sophisticated tacks before lamely concluding, “Well, in the end he’s our guy, and we’ll stick with him.”

They stuck with him, but in what sense was he “their” guy? His most prominent critic on the left, Christopher Hitchens, pointed out that Mr. Clinton’s “personal lapses” were all of a piece with his general betrayal of liberal principles—on welfare, gays, the cynical bombing of Third World countries, etc. In other words, aside from more Republicans in Congress, the Governors’ Mansions, and the State Houses, what exactly...

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