Jewish World Review May 4, 2000 / 29 Nissan, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- BARELY A WEEK after President Bill Clinton declared that he had saved the Constitution, investigations were proceeding on his 1996 campaign's fund-raising abuses, his administration's failure to turn over e-mail messages to a grand jury and his personal disbarment in Arkansas. If Bill Clinton has saved the Constitution, he has done so by reminding us how vulnerable it is to abuse by lawless politicians.
Summing up the Clinton presidency is not easy. But the president inadvertently described himself when attacking his critics: "They have no guilt and no shame." If there is a better epithet for Bill Clinton, it has not yet been written.
In mid-April he told the American Society of Newspaper Editors: "I am proud of what we did there (on impeachment), because I think we saved the Constitution of the United States."
Indeed, he said he felt no shame over his impeachment, believed he had won the sexual harassment lawsuit by Paula Jones, and had been cleared of "the whole Whitewater matter."
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart complained about the president even being asked about such matters.
"These are purportedly reasonably intelligent people, but I think it demonstrates just how isolated some newspaper editors are from the rest of the country," he said.
Alas, the subsequent news for "the president is innocent" camp hasn't been good. The newspaper and magazine headlines since Clinton spoke include: "Prosecutor Quizzes Clinton in Campaign Finance Case"; "Clinton, Gore Queried in Fund Probe"; "Springtime, and the Smell of Scandal"; "Clinton Answers Disbarment Bid"; and "Starr Had Staff Prepare Sample Indictment of Clinton, Book Says."
In fact, Clinton was impeached not for having sex with a White House intern in the Oval Office, but for lying to the court in the Paula Jones lawsuit (for which he was sanctioned by the presiding judge), lying in his grand-jury testimony on the Monica Lewinsky affair and obstructing justice while attempting to hide his activities and lies.
Nor did he defeat Paula Jones. The trial judge ruled that Clinton's grotesque behavior did not constitute harassment, not that it did not occur. The president's willingness to pay $850,000 to settle demonstrated that he was not convinced he would prevail on the appeal and in a subsequent trial.
As for Whitewater, we will never know the full story. But a few details are clear.
First, James McDougal, the head of Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, subsidized the Clintons' investment, presumably in hopes of receiving political favors.
Third, Hillary Clinton lied about the extent of her involvement on the legal work for failed Madison Guaranty and hid subpoenaed evidence about the case.
There's a lot more billowing smoke, though the Clintons were always careful to disguise the fires, making their wrongdoing hard to prove.
For instance, the president faced additional, credible charges of sexual harassment and rape and, opined a federal judge in late March, violated the Privacy Act to discredit one of his accusers.
There was evidence that Clinton was involved in an illegal business deal involving McDougal and former Municipal Judge David Hale. Hillary Clinton's unnaturally profitable cattle trades were barely disguised political payoffs. She also lied about her role in the firing of the White House travel office staff.
The Clintons and their friends arranged work for soon-to-be-jailed friend Webster Hubbell, which had the obvious smell of hush money. The president and his officials brazenly sold access, foreign trade trips, Lincoln Bedroom sleepovers and perhaps more for campaign contributions.
The White House managed to misplace e-mails under legal subpoena. The Justice Department has seemed curiously lethargic in investigating charges against the administration. A parade of presidential aides and political contributors exhibited faulty memories when questioned or fled the country when about to be questioned.
Nevertheless, Clinton would have us believe that, despite one little mistake, he's been busy working to preserve the Constitution.
Oddly enough, much of what has occurred suggests that the president and first lady are congenital liars rather than sophisticated conspirators and petty cheats rather than grand thieves. But that offers little comfort to the American people.
The Clinton presidency has been a tragic affair. Bill Clinton is bright, capable and charming; he's helped yank the Democratic Party away from the loony left.
But he is as dedicated to social engineering as were his partisan predecessors. His objectives in expanding state power are more limited, not more honorable.
Moreover, he's sullied both his office and legacy. The Constitution will survive his
presidency, but with no thanks to Bill
04/18/00: Clinton administration believes the IRS is too gentle, wants more auditors