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Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2001 / 27 Teves, 5761

Cal Thomas

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The best he could get --
PRESIDENT CLINTON did it. Despite obstructions, lying and other infractions we may never know about -- any one of which would have landed an ordinary citizen in prison for a lengthy stay -- Bill Clinton has effectively beaten the rap. All he relinquishes is a law license he never intended to use (and only for five years). Other attorneys who have lied under oath have been disbarred. He also was forced to issue a nuanced statement that's sort of an apology, which he can interpret, and will interpret, to suit himself.

What about his enablers, apologists and defenders? Will they feel compelled to come forward and acknowledge that they lied for the liar? They agreed that he did no wrong and always told the truth and never had extramarital sex, or harassed or raped or obstructed justice. Don't count on them repenting. Their names are legion, from Hillary Rodham "vast right-wing conspiracy'' Clinton to James Carville, Paul Begala, Mike McCurry, Dee Dee Myers, Joe Lockhart, Michael Kinsley, Lanny Davis, Eleanor Clift, the Hollywood Left, attorneys Bob Bennett and the late Charles Ruff, Congressman Barney Frank and the entire Congressional Black Caucus. Bill Clinton used them all until he used them up. What did they get for mortgaging their own integrity on Bill Clinton's altar of fertility? They got stained, as have all who came to his aid over the years.

The biggest enablers, co-conspirators and defenders have been the media. The Media Research Center has compiled only a sample of some of the more outrageous propaganda offered to cover Bill Clinton's political and literal nakedness.

They include Dan Rather's obsequious fawning in 1993: "If we could be one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners...Tell Mrs. Clinton we respect her and are pulling for her.'' Don't you love objectivity, fairness and balance in a journalist?

Newsweek's Howard Fineman gushed in a Jan. 25, 1993 news story: "There's no doubt that the nation is about to be led by its first sensitive male chief executive. He's the first President to have attended both Lamaze classes and family therapy...He can search for the inner self while seeking connectedness with the greater whole.'' This editorializing continued, like an unrestrained corporate polluter, for eight years.

That's just a sample. These are only excerpts from the web of deception the media helped Clinton build and sustain.

Independent Counsel Robert Ray says justice has been served by Friday's plea agreement. Maybe it has and perhaps this is the best he can get, given the uncertainty that any jury, especially in heavily Democratic Washington, D.C., would convict this ex-President. But one wishes that all of the evidence against this cunning, deceitful, dissembling man could have been put on the table for the public to examine in its totality without the usual Clinton and media spin. The record will be sealed until the special division within the Independent Council office authorizes its public release. Having spent millions of dollars on the Independent Counsel office, the taxpayers deserve to see what they paid for as soon as possible.

It's worth recalling the words of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and of the members of the House impeachment team: "The president engaged in a conspiracy of crimes to prevent justice from being served. These are impeachable offenses for which the president should be convicted.'' Indeed he should have been, but politics intruded and he escaped his day of reckoning. Robert Ray has effectively allowed him to escape again.

Clinton is now free to roam the country, making speeches for six figures without the prospect of new attorneys' fees.

President George W. Bush is grateful he doesn't have to consider pardoning Clinton, which he might have felt obliged to do at some point. Great damage has been done to the rule of and respect for the law. Perhaps an Attorney General John Ashcroft and the new president can do something to restore both. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton runs free -- an O.J. Simpson-like figure who beat the system. He still faces the judgment of history, but Clinton has always lived in the present, even while singing "don't stop thinking about tomorrow,'' or reflecting his real philosophy of life, which is summed up in another song: "Let the devil take tomorrow, help me make it through the night.''

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