Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Feb. 1, 2001 / 9 Shevat, 5761

Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Exit the abusers -- THERE WAS a story in The Washington Post the other day, a version of which you have read 700 times or so in the past eight years. The story concerned the latest assortment of money-grubbing, power-abusing acts committed by the former President Me and his first lady, Senator the Comtesse de Greed.

In keeping with tradition, the story quoted various anonymous confidants of the former first couple explaining that (1) it was a mystery how such smart, capable, fine people as the Clintons could have suffered such inexplicable lapses in their otherwise flawless taste and judgment and (2) the real blame lay with staffers or advisers or the media or the right wing or gremlins.

Meanwhile, also in keeping with tradition, various of the Clintons' many mouthpieces were fanning out from their dens and warrens at the K Street law firm of Weasel, Weasel, Ferret & Stoat to spread the good news that none of this mattered anyway, that things were not as they seemed and that everything that had been done had been done for the best and noblest of reasons.

The sibilant sound you hear is a long, dawning sigh of relief. People are slowly remembering that White House life does not have to be this way.Generally, we do not have to read stories, day after day, about a first couple's pals refusing to testify in criminal investigations into the first couple's financial dealings; or about women who credibly allege that the president groped them or mauled them; or about shady donors declaring that the White House is like a subway, you have to pay to get in.

Now, somewhat suddenly, we are rediscovering the blessed peace and quiet of a non-pathological presidency. There is something comforting about the front pages in the first weeks of Bush the Younger. A lot of the stories are about controversies, but they are the old and usual sort of controversies: Nominees are put forth and savaged; the people you would expect not to like what the new president is doing do not in fact like it; pundits fan small embers of dispute into slightly larger embers. How boring, how adult, how nice, how normal.

Above all, the Bush White House, it appears likely, is not going to be one long continuing abuse of power. To the end, Clinton and his wife displayed a breathtaking contempt for the ethics of power. They abused authority and privilege in ways grand and petty, and simply did not care what anyone thought about it. In his last hours, Clinton committed what may have been his worst abuse ever, which is saying something. This, of course, was his conscious subversion of the presidential pardon system to hand out executive clemencies to Democratic donors and Democratic allies, fellow Whitewater stonewallers, even to his brother.

Because the presidential right of pardon is absolute and because it involves the most fundamental of powers -- the power to give or deny liberty -- the Justice Department has built a system in its pardon office designed to make sure all or at least almost all applicants for pardon work their way through a long process of checking and consideration before arriving, with recommendations, on the president's desk. As the New York Times reported in an extraordinary story Monday, the Clinton White House bypassed this system, secretly compiling its own list of pleaders and, "in the last hours of the Clinton administration," rushed those applicants "to the head of the line."

"Government officials said the Justice Department had no knowledge that the White House was compiling its own list," the Times reported. "But many felons with Washington connections did. Beginning last fall, the notion began to circulate among potential applicants that the White House might be receptive to direct proposals for pardons." The result: "a mad search around the country for lawyers with contacts in the Clinton administration." Jack Quinn, a former Clinton White House counsel and former chief of staff for Vice President Al Gore, reportedly received $300,000 for personally persuading Clinton to pardon Marc Rich, the billionaire financier who fled the country rather than face charges in the nation's largest-ever tax fraud case -- and whose ex-wife has, during the Clinton years, contributed $1 million to Democratic campaign chests.

On inauguration morning, the Justice pardon office received, the Times reported, close to two dozen names from the White House's list of special pleaders. In more than 20 cases, the only information the pardon office had was the felon's name. The officials prepared the paperwork for the pardons anyway. They had no choice but to bow to the president's abuses.

Michael Kelly is the editor of National Journal. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


01/25/01: The monster and the minority
01/11/01: Master money-grubber
01/11/01: Re Bipartisanship: From: The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy To: The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy
01/04/01: Faux Commotion
12/21/00: The next Martha Stewart
12/14/00: Democracy rescued
12/06/00: Gore's next task: Face reality
11/15/00: The Great Defender
11/02/00: The Democrats' delusion
10/26/00: Phony Truce
10/19/00: The Talking Cure
10/12/00: Doves' Day of Reckoning
10/05/00: Conan the veep
09/28/00: Dumb vs. Dishonest
09/21/00: Flapping furiously
09/14/00: Down AlGore's Memory Hole
08/24/00: AlGore's Flex-O-Joe
08/17/00: The Joyful Clinton Nation
08/09/00: A Calculated Risk
08/03/00: New Hope for Nice Guys
07/27/00: But What About Dad?
07/20/00: U.S. Handiwork In Sierra Leone
07/13/00: President With a Porpoise
07/06/00: The Importance of Being Earnest
06/29/00: A Press Obsession With the Death Penalty
06/21/00: Gore and the Goodies
06/15/00: Network Snooze
06/01/00: Sunshine on My Shoulders
05/24/00: Last Chance for a Hardened Prevaricator
05/17/00: Cuomo's Thought Police
05/10/00: Hammering DeLay
05/04/00: Some Closing Thoughts
04/28/00: Endangering Elian
04/19/00: Imitation Activism
04/12/00: Why they hate Bubba
04/05/00: Census and nonesense
03/29/00: The Stiffs and Their Statuettes
03/15/00: Anarchy in Kosovo
03/08/00: Reform joke
03/01/00:The Pinhead Factor
03/01/00: The Christian Right: Past Its Prime . . .
02/24/00: McCain's Majority
02/16/00: Sharpton's Supplicants
02/09/00: The GOP Pilgrims' Sad Tale
02/02/00: Fodder For the GOP
01/26/00: Million-Dollar Mediocrity
01/19/00: Campaign Reform: Let's Pretend
01/12/00: Never Again? Oh, Never Mind
01/05/00: Turn Off, Tune Out, Drop In
12/22/99: Gore's TV Gambit
12/15/99: Campaigns Do Clarify
12/08/99: Kosovo's Killers
12/01/99: Not Ready for Prime Time?
11/24/99: The Company He Keeps
11/17/99: Republican Illusion
11/10/99: The Know-Nothing Media
11/03/99: Necessary Partisanship
10/27/99: Buchanan's Gift to George W. Bush
10/21/99: Who are the real friends of the poor?
10/14/99: Gore's 'courage'!?
10/08/99: Republican Stunts
09/23/99: Buchanan's folly
09/16/99: Beatty and Buchanan: That's Entertainment!
09/09/99: Puerto Rico Surprise (Cont'd)
09/02/99: Puerto Rico Surprise
08/12/99:The Age of No Class
08/05/99: Assessing Welfare Reform
07/29/99: On the Wrong Side
07/21/99: Mass Sentimentality
07/15/99: Blame Hillary
07/08/99: Guide to the Arts: For Your Summer Reading . . .
06/30/99: A Perfectly Clintonian Doctrine
06/25/99:Smorgasbord by the Sea
06/16/99: A National Calamity
06/09/99: Stumbling Forward
06/02/99: Commencement '90s-Style
05/26/99: Will we ever learn? Clintochio is a lying ...
05/19/99: Comforting Milosevic
05/13/99: Short-Order Strategists
05/06/99: Four Revolting Spectacles

©1999, Washington Post Co.