JWR Jeff JacobyBen WattenbergRoger Simon
Mona CharenLinda Chavez

Paul Greenberg Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellClarence PageWalter Williams
Don FederCal Thomas
Political Cartoons
Left, Right & Center

Jewish World Review / Aug. 21, 1998 / 29 Menachem-Av, 5758

Mona Charen

Mona Charen

The unravelling

LIKE PULLING ON THE THREAD of a sweater, President Clinton's address to the nation on Monday night set in motion the unraveling of his squalid presidency.

The speech was his last chance to escape the steel jaws of justice that await him. The whole political world -- from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to his former aides Dee Dee Meyers and George Stephanopolous -- were publicly begging him to show contrition and ask forgiveness.

Probably the only one
of the whole lot not
guilty of some crime.
Instead, laboring under a burden of shame that would make even a tough man consider the services of Dr. Kevorkian, he gave the world a glimpse of his truest self: arrogant, immature and self-justifying to the point of pathology. He couldn't ask forgiveness, it turns out, because he is incapable of acknowledging his own wrongdoing.

And so he sat in the Map Room (not from defiled the Oval Office) and dully intoned a few focus-group tested admissions of inappropriateness. He said he took "full responsibility," which in modern Americanese means its opposite. He won't resign or otherwise accept consequences, so the phrase is hollow.

Only when turning to the Starr investigation did he warm to the subject.

This president's capacity for boundless self-justification has now led to a place where no sensible adult can follow, namely to the serious contention that while he denied an affair with Monica Lewinsky under oath last January, his denials were "legally accurate." In other words, while sort of admitting a lie Monday night, he told another.

Some of this verbal legerdemain will turn on the precise question of what kind of sex was going on as they sprawled on the Great Seal of the United States -- classic Clinton word games. But he can't hide in that familiar spot this time, because lawyers for Paula Jones also asked the president whether he had had an extramarital affair with Lewinksy or whether he was ever alone in a room with her. He said no to the first and can't recall to the second. Enough.

Totally incapable of seeing his own signature on his troubles, the president insisted that he would now "reclaim my family life for my family." Who undermined his family life?

News reports following the speech suggest that Lewinsky was hurt by the president's dismissal of their great passion. Lewinsky brings up the rear on a very long line of those damaged by coming within range of this man. His wife and daughter lead the list, followed closely by his personal secretary and other aides -- who in return for loyal service have been slapped with huge legal bills and damaged reputations -- his Cabinet officers, and his private and public partners (Susan McDougal and Al Gore).

They are all (with the exception of Chelsea) guilty to one degree or another of complicity with corruption, but the Big He was always the agent. From hush money for Webb Hubbell, to missing billing records mysteriously appearing on White House desks, to illegal fund raising, to the peculiar discovery of 900 FBI files on Republicans in the White House basement, to launching a despicable attack on a duly constituted officer of the United States government, this administration has hopped from one lie to another like a frog on lily pads.

It would have worked. He would have gotten away with all of it, were it not for two liberal initiatives fulsomely supported by a younger Bill Clinton: sexual harassment law and the independent counsel statute. Clinton was not undone by a vast right-wing conspiracy (for which smear we have yet to hear Mrs. Clinton apologize), he caught his foot on liberal laws intended to ensnare wealthy CEOs and Republican presidents. What goes around comes around.

This is the beginning of the end. The president has lied under oath, and in time we will doubtless see proof that he urged others to lie, attempted to conceal evidence and obstructed justice. He also betrayed the most minimal level of good faith Americans expect from their leaders.

By wagging his finger and baldly lying to the country back in January, he made us a nation of Hillarys. She has chosen to accept her fate. We need not.


8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
7/10/98: Guns as the solution?
7/8/98: Teacher preacher
7/6/98: The China behind the headlines
7/1/98: What is the First Amendment for?
6/26/98: The Republican city
6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.