JWR Roger SimonMona CharenLinda Chavez
Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellWilliam PfaffRobert Scheer
Don FederCal Thomas
Left, Right & Center
Jewish World Review / April 9, 1998 / 13 Nissan, 5758

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell Rising or falling Starr

HAVE YOU EVER tried to warn a friend against becoming romantically involved with someone who was plainly no good? Do not expect to be thanked for it. In fact, you will be lucky if the friendship survives.

That is the position that special prosecutor Kenneth Starr is in as he builds a case against a president whose popularity ratings are in the stratosphere, while Starr's own approval ratings are barely in double digits.

This could all change very quickly, however, if we finally start getting some hard facts, Ken Starr after the special prosecutor makes his report to Congress or seeks indictments in a court of law. At this point, however, the public opinion polls suggest that people are turning a blind eye to evidence against their man, in a way not seen since the O.J. Simpson trial.

If Clinton beats the rap, should he be considered the white O.J. Simpson? Actually, it would be an even greater feat for Clinton to cash in his popularity ratings for a get-out-of-jail-free card.

The president's popularity is based on a healthy economy and a balanced budget -- neither of which he has much to do with. Congress votes spending and taxes and that is what determines whether there is or is not a deficit. If presidents could control the economy, all of them would have a boom going on election day.

The real analogy would be if O.J. Simpson hadn't really scored all those touchdowns that made him famous, but had faked the records -- and if he were not really black but just had his skin dyed.

Loud complaints about Judge Starr's "tactics" ring hollow. What is he supposed to do when people are lying, except bring pressure on them to tell the truth? You do that by collecting lots of contradictory testimony from other people or you tape them contradicting themselves.

What broke the back of the Watergate conspiracy was Judge John J. Sirica's handing out huge sentences to first-time offenders in an aborted burglary in which no one was hurt and nothing was taken. Did the media complain about his "tactics"? Moreover, Judge Sirica was not a prosecutor, so a much stronger case could be made that he was overstepping the bounds.

We don't know yet whether Kenneth Starr's tactics will work, but we do know that Judge Sirica's tactics put pressure on some people who cracked. Thus far, there has been no John Dean breaking ranks to save his own skin. But that could change if the accumulation of evidence makes perjury hang heavy over people's heads.

It is amazing what double standards this investigation has brought out. For example, Linda Tripp is being demonized for bringing forth Monica Lewinsky's statements on tape, as a betrayal of friendship. But was it not a betrayal of friendship for Ms. Lewinsky to urge Ms. Tripp to commit perjury and risk going to jail, in order to save Clinton's political hide?

Another incredible double standard has now emerged from the radical feminists, who acted as if it were an outrage that Anita Hill's unsubstantiated charges were even questioned, but who now dismiss far worse allegations from a variety of other women about a man with a history of womanizing.

Now we have Judge Susan Webber Wright creating yet another double standard. Men have been prosecuted and convicted -- and companies fined millions of dollars -- for doing much less than Clinton is accused of in the Paula Jones case. However, before we start calling her Susan Webber Wrong, we need to realize what nebulous standards and inconsistent legal precedents the judge found already existing in sexual harassment cases.

Many laws have been declared "void for vagueness" without being nearly as murky as laws about sexual harassment. When a law forbids you from doing something, it ought to be clear what it is you are not supposed to do. But when the law forbids an employer from having "a hostile environment" that can mean anything a judge and jury want it to mean.

The smear campaign against Kenneth Starr has now reached the point where even the liberal New York Times has become disgusted with the White House's mud-slinging and demanded that they stop it. That alone will not get the character assassins to let up, however.

But all these attacks on the special prosecutor could backfire if Starr's report to Congress or indictments in court demonstrate that (1) he has very substantial evidence and that (2) he is making no charges about Clinton's "private sex life," as the media spin masters insist on calling it.

Once the public realizes how they have been lied to around the clock by spin masters on TV, not only Starr but the media may be seen in a wholly different light.

We already know that the claim that Starr has "wasted" $40 million is false. First of all, the Justice Department's own accounting shows that Judge Starr has spent less than half of that amount. Far from "wasting" this money, he has already gotten numerous felony convictions of people associated with Whitewater and other Clinton activities.

As for the four years that this has taken, half of that time was spent waiting for crucial documents that had been subpoenaed from the White House but which "disappeared" and which no one could remember, until some White House staffer "discovered" them in plain view. These documents link Hillary Clinton to felonies that have already been proven in court, leaving the "first lady" open to indictment herself.

Meanwhile the stalling continues with "executive privilege" claims that nobody expects to stand up in court. But their purpose is clearly not to stand up in court. Their purpose is to delay completion of the special prosecutor's report amid a chorus of demands that he finish up.


4/6/98: "Was Clinton ‘vindicated'? "
3/26/98: "Diasters -- natural and political"
3/24/98: "A pattern of behavior"
3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.