America by Air: Whitewater

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.
The twists of the White River, namesake of Whitewater, in Arkansas (James Fallows)

In one way or another, all Clinton-era “scandals” trace back to Whitewater. That was the late-1970s Arkansas real estate deal that prompted an investigative crusade by the NYT during Bill Clinton’s presidential run in 1992 and well into his first term. Congressional and special-prosecutor investigations followed. Whitewater was one of the matters Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster was dealing with at the time of his suicide. It was how special prosecutor Kenneth Starr first got onto the Clintons’ trail. The strongest case that it was all a misbegotten and cynical anti-Clinton effort was made by Gene Lyons and Joe Conason in their 2001 book The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton. I find their argument convincing; judge for yourself.

But if you were ever wondering, where did this all happen?, I am here to help. The scene above is of a serpentine portion of the White River in central Arkansas, namesake of Whitewater, as it appeared yesterday on a steamy June afternoon, looking southward out the left window from an altitude of 4,500 feet. This part of the river, in the vicinity of Searcy, is about 100 miles south of the hillier and more wooded area where the actual Whitewater development was located. Still: White(River)water!

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Similarly on the rivers-from-above theme, here is the mighty Mississippi, looking toward to the north yesterday out the right window. This bend is near the corner where Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri come together, with Arkansas not far  to the south and the southern tip of Illinois at Cairo just to the north:

Bends and sandbars in the Mississippi

And looking south toward the Red River. The area on the near side of the river is Oklahoma; on the other side, Texas.

The Oklahoma panhandle in the foreground; then the Red River; then Texas. (The light area in the lower right is a reflection from inside the plane.)

While I’m at it, a non-riverine view of Arkansas farm land, south of Jonesboro.

Looking south, near Jonesboro, Arkansas

That is all. This is in preparation for upcoming reports from Texas and Kansas.

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