Left, Right & Center
Jewish World Review / January 29, 1998 / 2 Shevat, 5758
What the president has going for him
WASHINGTON -- DON'T YOU GET IT YET? Don't you see where it's going? Let me spell it out for you:
They are never going to get this guy. I don't think they are ever going to bring down Bill Clinton.
Why? Let's take a look:
First and foremost, we should never forget that he may be innocent of all charges, allegations, innuendoes and leaks. He says he is. And it may just be -- it should be -- that innocent people get exonerated in this country.
Second, even if he did something wrong, this guy is good. This guy is real good.
His early political nickname wasn't "Dumb Willie" or "Silly Willie." His nickname was "Slick Willie." And he got it because he slid through, over, under and around tough problems.
And speaking of nicknames, he wasn't called "The Comeback Kid" in 1992 for nothing. He was called that because he has a habit of coming back strong just when people are counting him out.
Bill Clinton has been accused of sexual improprieties on a biannual basis for the last six years.
In 1992, Gennifer Flowers accused him of having had a steamy 12-year love affair with her, and she released audiotapes to prove it.
Clinton went on to win the presidency that year.
In 1994, Paula Jones filed a sexual harassment suit charging that Clinton, while governor of Arkansas, groped her in a hotel room, exposed himself and asked for oral sex.
She got attacked in the press, not him.
In 1996, an ex-FBI agent wrote a book containing rumors that Clinton slipped out of the White House at night and had trysts in a hotel near the White House.
Clinton went on to win the presidency again.
Now, a 24-year-old White House intern allegedly tells a friend that she had a one-and-a-half-year love affair with the president beginning when she was 21.
But wait, she denies that story in a sworn statement. Will she change her story if she is granted immunity? Who knows? All we know for sure is that the president denies the story and says he had no sexual relationship with the young woman.
He faces the cameras and narrows his eyes and wags his finger and says: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time -- never."
That is the most serious allegation. That he and his buddy Vernon Jordan told Lewinsky to lie about the alleged relationship under oath.
If it turns out that the president had sex in the Oval Office with a woman not his wife, well, you may not like it, and I may not like it, but he is not going to be impeached for it.
And he is not going to be impeached even if it turns out he lied to the American people about it.
This may come as a shock to you, but lying to the American people is not a crime.
If it were, the jails would be even more crowded with politicians than they are now.
But if the president told someone to lie under oath, well, that's different. That's encouraging someone to commit perjury, which is a felony, which could threaten his job.
I became convinced this is unlikely to happen, however, when I read one alleged account (everything is alleged these days) that said Clinton never told Lewinsky to lie but instead told her to, "See Vernon."
This sounds more like Bill Clinton to me. This sounds like a very, very smart operator. He could keep his hands clean while Vernon Jordan did the dirty work.
Did Vernon Jordan encourage Monica Lewinsky to lie? He says he did not, and he is a smart lawyer.
Then there is the little matter of whether you can indict a sitting president. Nobody knows for sure, but most legal experts say you cannot. You have to impeach him, remove him from office and then indict him.
Which means that Democrats and not just Republicans would have to turn on Bill Clinton. A president can't be removed without a two-thirds vote of the Senate.
One person who hasn't turned on Clinton is the first lady. She is all over TV defending him, and this is crucial. Many people believe that if Hillary believes and/or forgives him, why shouldn't the rest of the nation?
And Hillary is saying this is all a right-wing plot.
"We get a politically motivated prosecutor, who is allied with the right-wing opponents of my husband... scratching for dirt, intimidating witnesses, doing everything possible to try to make some accusation against my husband," she said on "Today" Tuesday.
"I'm not only here because I love and believe my husband," she went on. "I'm also here because I love and believe in my country."
Which is a terrific line. Which goes to show that she is very, very good, also.
But I'll tell you the best thing Clinton has going for him: This guy doesn't blink. He doesn't wilt. He doesn't cave in.
Other candidates for president get accused of adultery, and they drop out of the race. One got accused of plagiarism once, and he dropped out.
But in a single month in 1992, Bill Clinton gets accused of draft dodging, dope smoking and having an illicit love affair, and what happens?
He hangs in. He toughs it out. And he becomes president.
Which taught Clinton a valuable lesson about politics: Sometimes it doesn't take smarts, sometimes it doesn't take slickness, sometimes it doesn't take integrity.
Sometimes it just takes
1/27/98: Judgment call: how Americans view President Clinton