As I mentioned below, the presidential campaign so far seems to be about what the candidates said or did while still in short pants…

But there was a hot rumor last week about what John Kerry was said to have done after he was in long pants–or, no, don’t go there.

The Kerry-intern story, as you know, enjoyed a brief but frenzied vogue after it broke on the Drudge Report, even though the mainstream press was loath to retail it. Nevertheless some commentators have said it was the sub rosa reason John Edwards made a strong showing in Wisconsin.

Now, former Clinton White House insider Sidney Blumenthal is begging Kerry to sue “rightwing hooligan Matt Drudge.” Blumenthal’s piece in the Guardian bears a simple headline: “Sue Drudge.”

Sidney, of course, has sued Drudge. In the worldview of it’s-all-about-me Sidney, Drudge became a celebrity by “libeling me the day I began to work in the Clinton White House in August 1997.”

Some would say it was Monica and Bill who made Drudge a celebrity. But let’s let that pass. Drudge had printed a bogus story about alleged domestic violence chez Blumenthal.

As somebody who had toiled in the vineyards of gossip (at the Washington Times and Daily News), I knew the story had been kicking around so long that it had whiskers. I also knew that people who’d tried to verify it were convinced it was simply untrue.

Drudge was then a callow young internet reporter and, when he ran with the story, Sidney ran after him with a lawsuit. This was the right thing to do. The internet is the wild west of journalism (scroll down for my previous post on this), and it’s the right place to air information that’s not quite ready for prime time. In a political campaign season, it can be particularly valuable.

The threat of a lawsuit is a good incentive not to libel somebody. But, of course, it’s well-nigh impossible for a public figger like Kerry–as opposed to a private citizen like Sidney (sorry, Sid, but that’s the way it is nowadays)–to bring a libel suit in an American court. 

Not to worry, Sid has already thought of that. He’s got a plan: Sue in an English court. That’ll show ’em. And, after all, the Brit papers did have a field day with the tabloid Sun running a story headlined, “New JFK Rocked by Sex Scandal.”

Sidney is fairly salivating over the prospect of a Kerry lawsuit before one of the bewiggined ones: “Then a British court would begin to set important rules in American politics.”

Yikes! What does Sidney really want? He wants to shut down a valuable source of information. He also want furriners to decide our law for us.