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Jewish World Review July 7, 2000 / 4 Tamuz, 5760

Cal Thomas

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Consumer Reports

Bubba's Day of Reckoning? --
IN THE MATTER of one William Jefferson Clinton, pundits, independent counsels and the U.S. Senate have failed in their efforts to hold him accountable for his serial misdeeds. He has escaped them all. Now comes a signal that his day of reckoning may be approaching.

A disciplinary committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court has concluded that Clinton's license to practice law should be revoked for his lying under oath about the affair he had with Monica Lewinsky.

For a lawyer, to be disbarred is as dishonorable as it is for a clergyman to be defrocked. Unless, of course, you are so shameless that you have built an entire career on lies and lawbreaking. Then you simply do what Clinton and his lawyers plan to do. "We fundamentally disagree with the complaint ... and will defend vigorously against it,'' said Clinton attorney David Kendall.

But the language used by the disciplinary committee, which is made up of citizens from Clinton's home state who know him well, is precise and damning. The five-page document accuses the president of "dishonesty, deceit, fraud and misrepresentation,'' words that characterize much of the performance of this administration. It says the president of the United States "conducted himself in a manner that violates model rules of professional conduct ... damages the legal profession and demonstrates a lack of overall fitness to hold a license to practice law.'' It adds that the president's lies were "motivated by a desire to protect himself from the embarrassment of his own conduct.''

While the matter of the president's disbarment could be resolved as early as this fall, if past experience serves, his attorneys will delay and deny until he leaves office. It will then be up to Independent Counsel Robert Ray to decide whether to go after Clinton when he loses the protection and prestige of an office he has tarnished.

No wonder the president held a news conference -- his first since March -- the day before the disciplinary committee's suit. He must have known it was coming and sought to diminish its impact by distracting public attention. "The word `scandal' has been thrown around here like a clanging teapot for seven years,'' said the president, again shifting blame from who is responsible to his accusers. He called virtually all of those scandals "bogus.'' But how would a dishonorable man recognize honor if it stared him in the face?

If only former Sen. Bill Bradley would emerge from hiding and continue the principled, accurate and dignified critique of this administration he conducted during the Democratic presidential primary. And let's not forget Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), who referred to Clinton as "an unusually good liar.'' These men can't be dismissed as "Clinton haters,'' but they know bad character when they see it.

This administration's disgusting rape of the Constitution in its pursuit of power would delight King Henry VIII. Clinton's still-unknown exploits will fill volumes of tell-all books for years to come. Generations to come will wonder how a man like Bill Clinton could do what he did and survive in office. They will conclude that he was merely a reflection of the nation's cynicism and moral confusion, and they will agree with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has labeled this "the most corrupt administration ever.''

Were I a betting man, I would wager that Clinton is more likely than not to escape the stain of disbarment. His entire life as been about avoiding responsibility and accountability. He has been assisted well by apologists, enablers and sycophants. But sooner or later the law of averages catches up with everyone, no matter how successful they have been in escaping that other law. Maybe this time this president has run out of luck.

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