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Jewish World Review Oct. 27, 1998 / 7 Mar-Cheshvan, 5759

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell "Partisan" and "unfair"

TWO OF THE WORDS being repeated again and again about the investigation of Bill Clinton, including the current impeachment inquiry, have been "partisan" and "unfair." The constant repetition and coordinated use of exactly the same words by a small army of White House spokesmen and their political and media allies has apparently been very effective, judging by the polls.

But repetition is not substance. Take the charge that the investigation of Bill Clinton is "partisan." From a purely partisan perspective, what would be best for the Republicans would be for Bill Clinton to remain in the White House, weakened as an opponent, and with his scandal inevitably rubbing off on Vice President Al Gore, who will be seeking the presidency in the year 2000.

What would be worst from the Republicans' partisan point of view would be for Clinton to be removed from office and for Gore to run as a sitting president in 2000.

If the Republican-led Congress votes to remove Clinton from office, it can only be because the evidence turns out to be so strong that members of both houses see no way to live up to their oath of office without doing so -- against their partisan self-interest. Such evidence would include not only what has already been sent to Congress, but also whatever additional evidence comes out of the continuing investigations of the special prosecutor into Whitewater, the FBI files, travelgate and other Clinton scandals.

The charge of being "partisan" has also been hurled at special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, that he is "out to get the president" for political reasons. But, from a partisan point of view, the worst time for Starr to send his evidence to Congress was precisely when he did send it, shortly before the election.

With an election coming up, Democrats have their maximum incentive to defend Bill Clinton in Congress, as a way of defending themselves at the polls. If Kenneth Starr had waited until after the election, he would have encountered less automatic opposition from Democrats and there might well be a larger Republican majority in both houses, so as to facilitate impeachment and conviction.

There were plenty of public hints from Republicans in Congress that they did not want to see Starr's report before he had his whole investigation completed. The last thing they wanted was to see the Monica Lewinsky material by itself, which would lead to inevitable claims that this is all about "the president's private sex life."

Why then did Starr send the report to Congress when he did? Because his reading of the law was that he must send any credible evidence of possible impeachable offenses to Congress "as soon as" he has any such evidence. Given this interpretation of the law, he did not have the choice of waiting to assemble all his evidence on all aspects of his various investigations, even if that would have made a stronger case.

With all the cynical cleverness and spinning in politics and the media, there is still such a thing as a sense of duty to carry out the letter and spirit of the law. Everything in Kenneth Starr's previous history shows a man with that sense of duty and with the kind of strict reading of the law that would not allow him to postpone his report, even though that would have been the most politically effective way to "get" Clinton.

If Starr was so "obsessed" with a desire to "get" Clinton, why did he consider resigning a few years ago to become dean of a law school? He decided to stay on only after public outcries. How "obsessed" is that? Or don't the facts matter, after words have been repeated to the point where millions of people respond like Pavlov's dog when they hear those words?

As for "unfairness," who has been blasting the special prosecutor for months, knowing that the law made it impossible for him to reply, even to correct lies? A grand jury foreman rebuked White House aide Sidney Blumenthal for having stood on the courthouse steps and said on nationwide television that Kenneth Starr had asked questions that had in fact never been asked.

We would never even have known this, except that it is in the huge volume of evidence that Clinton's supporters now want us to rush through. Nor was Blumenthal the only White House aide who stood on those courthouse steps and made sweeping charges that they knew neither Starr nor the grand jurors could discuss publicly.

Many of these same aides are now loudly denouncing "unfairness" when Starr finally has his say, even though they are perfectly free to reply.

10/23/98: Ed-u-kai-tchun
10/21/98: McGwire, Maris and the Babe
10/16/98: Lightweight Boxer
10/14/98: A strange word
10/09/98: Impeachment standards
10/08/98: Alternatives to seriousness
10/07/98: Heredity, environment and talk
10/02/98: A much-needed guide
10/01/98: Starr's real crime
9/24/98: Costs and power
9/18/98: Are we sheep?
9/16/98: Judicial review
9/15/98: Hillary Rodham Crook?
9/14/98: Taking stock
9/11/98: Moment of truth
9/04/98: Random thoughts
8/31/98: The twilight of special prosecutors?
8/26/98: "Doing a good job"
8/24/98: America on trial?
8/19/98: Played for fools
8/17/98: A childish letter
8/11/98: Hiding behind a woman
8/07/98: A flying walrus in Washington?
8/03/98: "Affordability" strikes again
7/31/98: Random thoughts
7/27/98: Faith and mountains
7/24/98: Clinton in Wonderland
7/20/98: Where is black 'leadership' leading?
7/16/98: Do 'minorities' really have it that bad?
7/14/98: Race dialogue: same old stuff
7/10/98: Honest history
7/09/98: Dumb is dangerous
7/02/98: Gun-safety starts with
parental responsibility
6/30/98: When more is less
6/29/98: Are educators above the law?
6/26/98: Random Thoughts
6/24/98: An angry letter
6/22/98: Sixties sentimentalism
6/19/98:Dumbing down anti-trust
6/15/98: A changing of the guard?
6/11/98: Presidential privileges
6/8/98: Fast computers and slow antitrust
6/3/98: Can stalling backfire?
5/29/98: The insulation of the Left
5/25/98: Missing the point in the media
5/22/98: The lessons of Indonesia
5/20/98: Smart but silent
5/18/98: Israel, Clinton and character
5/14/98: Monica Lewinsky's choices
5/11/98: Random thoughts
5/7/98: Media obstruction of justice
5/4/98: Dangerous "safety"
5/1/98: Abolish Adolescence!
4/30/98: The naked truth
4/22/98: Playing fair and square
4/19/98: Bad teachers"
4/15/98: "Clinton in Africa "
4/13/98: "Bundling and unbundling "
4/9/98: "Rising or falling Starr "
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.