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 /September 7, 1998 / 16 Elul, 5758

Mona Charen

Mona Charen

Liar's Poker

AS THE NATION ATTEMPTS to assimilate the news that its president is a confessed liar and certain perjurer, it is becoming clear that many Americans have a confused notion of what it is presidents do.

To judge by opinion polls, most Americans think the president presides over the national economy and determines recessions or booms. They also think he "runs the country," though it is hard to imagine what people mean by that. Do they suppose that no mail will be delivered, Social Security checks issued or taxes collected if the president falls ill or is removed from office? Do they imagine that the government in general "runs the country"?

In truth, while presidents are not completely irrelevant to the state of the economy, they are largely so. This president ran on a pledge that he would end the recession, which was convenient since the recession had already ended before he took office and long before any of his policies had had time to take effect.

Nevertheless, President Clinton has been dining out on the strength of the economy for five years now. Call it the "being there" award. The nation has given him credit he does not deserve and is simultaneously disregarding the one area in which presidents really do have latitude for action: foreign policy.

This week brings news from three fronts that not only confirm the execrable policies this administration has pursued around the globe but also point up the demoralizing effects of being led by a man whose word cannot be trusted.

When the president ordered the bombing of terrorist sites in Afghanistan and Sudan two weeks ago, most Americans believed that his motives were honorable, but a significant minority thought the attacks were pure "Wag the Dog." Even many who thought the attacks were justified questioned the timing and style. George Bush seemed to conduct large parts of Desert Storm from the golf course, yet President Clinton seized the opportunity to fly back to Washington and address the nation from the Oval Office.

Now, reports are surfacing that the administration may have relied on incomplete intelligence about the pharmaceutical plant that was bombed in Khartoum. Sudan claims that the factory was used for peaceful purposes only and has invited the United Nations to inspect the wreckage. In normal times, Americans would turn to the administration for clarification. But with this president, can our minds be completely at rest about his motives or his reassurances?

It becomes clear, when considering the president's anti-terrorism policy, that the president's personal behavior and reputation for honesty matter a great deal.

Another event this week illustrates the honesty problem in a different context. Scott Ritter resigned from the U.N. weapons inspection team rather than participate in what he regards as the U.S. administration's charade of arms control in Iraq. The Clinton administration says it simply doesn't want to act on Saddam's timetable. Ritter and other intelligent observers think the administration simply doesn't want to act. By privately signaling the inspectors to hold back while publicly proclaiming that we are keeping close tabs on Iraq, this administration is permitting Saddam to acquire every terror weapon the modern world can devise. This is not lying about sex; it is lying about the security of our country.

And finally, the folly of the president's 1994 handling of North Korea is now on display. North Korea is one of the world's most sinister regimes, but its people are starving to death in large numbers. In 1994, North Korea's nuclear weapons program was alarming Japan and our other allies in Asia. President Clinton's response: Stand up to the North Koreans and force them to abandon their nuclear weapons program? No. President Clinton chose to give a huge aid package including a 10-year supply of fuel oil and two nuclear power plants in exchange for a mere promise to refrain from developing nuclear weapons. His cravenness was rewarded last week when North Korea fired a new, longer-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.

A president cannot conduct a firm foreign policy without the implicit threat of force, and he cannot credibly threaten force unless the American people trust his word. That is why this president is not just an embarrassment; he is a danger.


9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
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.