Jewish World Review August 2, 2002 / 24 Menachem-Av, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Now we all know where William Jefferson Clinton, Esq., plans to get the money to pay all those legal bills he ran up during the late unpleasantness in Washington.
No, he isn't about to use up the fat fees he collects for speaking around the world -- $9.2 million just last year. At last report, he was getting between $75,000 and $350,000 a pop.
Nor does Bill Clinton propose to touch his book advance (which has been put at between $10 million and $12 million) for what will surely be the most widely unread presidential memoir in American history. Why spend his own money when he can dip into the U.S. Treasury?
That's right. Slick Willie proposes to have his legal bills paid by:
Mr. and Ms. American Taxpayer.
Through his lawyer, who stands to collect a sizable share of those fees himself, the ever impeachable Mr. Clinton has asked a court to direct the U.S. government to pay off the squadrons of attorneys it took to get him off the hook.
Yes, now you, too, can pay off Bill Clinton's lawyers.
How is that possible? Simple. Slick Willie is taking advantage of a law written to protect those pulled into the independent counsel's investigation of his presidency even though they were never indicted or censured for anything. For example, bystanders like his first chief of staff, Mack McLarty, who was bound to be questioned when he started hanging out with all that bad company, i.e., the Clinton administration.
Now comes William Jefferson Clinton, and he wants the public to pay his costs, too, even though he was impeached -- which is the equivalent of being indicted. As we were reminded again and again during his trial in the U.S. Senate.
Cited for civil contempt and suspended from the bar, Bill Clinton avoided a criminal indictment by a classic plea bargain: He admitted to testifying falsely under oath -- which is as close as you can come to confessing perjury without confessing.
And now, after all this, he wants the rest of us to pay for all the distinguished lawheads who got him off. There is a word to describe this kind of brass, moxie, nerve, chutzpah and greed:
Yet it's hard to be outraged at this latest caper of Bill Clinton's because it's just what you would expect of him. What in others might be outrageous is in Bill Clinton only standard operating procedure.
Different presidents respond differently to disgrace: Richard Nixon, hopelessly puritanical, resigned rather than face impeachment, and then spent the next 20 years rehabilitating himself. Bill Clinton has responded by asking the American people to pay his bills.
Whatever you think of that request, it's hard to resist a certain admiration for the sheer, unadulterated nerviness of it. You gotta hand it to the rascal. He keeps setting new records for shamelessness.
We can all give up on the foolish hope that, once he was out of the White House and dog house, our prodigal son would turn into some kind of Jimmy Carter in his post-presidential years, traveling the country building houses for the poor. Or settle down in the role of nonpartisan elder statesman a la Gerald Ford.
Fuhgeddaboutit. In or out of office, Bill Clinton remains Bill Clinton. The more he changes, the more he doesn't.
The years have passed, and by now our boy president has become our boy ex-president. He is still the perpetual adolescent, forever striding up Fool's Hill, knowing he'll get away with it. And why not? Haven't we let him? He may get investigated, but it's always others who take the rap.
What a show. It never stops. Now we're supposed to take Bill Clinton for a victim of the Clinton Scandals instead of their central figure. The effrontery of it. If there were any justice in the world, Bill Clinton would be arrested for imitating an innocent bystander.
It was said of Teddy Roosevelt by the British ambassador at the time, in perhaps the most concise and accurate summary of that remarkable personality, "You must always remember that the president is about 6."
When it comes to Bill Clinton, we must always remember that he's about 17 -- with the same sure confidence that, whatever happens, somebody else will pay for it. And this time, folks, he's nominated you, his fellow Americans.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.