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Jewish World Review Jan. 15, 2001 / 20 Teves 5761

Don Feder

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We will have these moments to remember -- AS THE CLOCK runs out on the Clinton era, an accounting is in order.

The past eight years have brought us many magical moments. Recalling just a few may best illustrate the singular achievements of our 42nd president.

In 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno barbecued 25 kids and 55 adults at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. Seven years later, she sent a SWAT team into the Gonzalez family home in Miami's Little Havana, to pave the wave for sending young Elian back to a slave state. Net result: 80 dead, one in limbo -- but she did it for the children.

Joycelyn Elders, the surgeon general from another planet, recommended that schools teach masturbation. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala commissioned ads wherein dedicated condoms rush to do their duty. At Rambouillet, Madeleine Albright, the mad bomber of the Balkans, presented an ultimatum to the Serbs she knew they couldn't accept, as a prelude to 78 days of bombing.

Clinton's other foreign-policy triumphs included: sending U.S. forces to Haiti to "restore democracy" (something it didn't have before and hasn't had since), bombing an aspirin factory in the Sudan as part of the war on terrorism, Hillary planting a big wet one on Mrs. Arafat, Bill enunciating the Clinton Doctrine (we'll go anywhere to stop ethnic cleansing, whether or not it's in our interest to do so), and Bill in Beijing enunciating the politburo's Taiwan Doctrine (let it sink back into the ocean).

Willie's wise words and witticisms could fill a book -- racial quotas ("mend it, don't end it"), abortion (should be "safe, legal and rare," said the president from Planned Parenthood), Hillary's ethics problems ("If everybody in the country had the character that my wife had, we'd be a better place to live."), rationalizing the first family's use of the Lincoln bedroom as a perk for campaign contributors ("Both of us lost a parent, and we just hadn't kept in touch with people like we should."), and assigning blame for the Oklahoma City bombing ("loud and angry voices" of conservatives in the media, "whose sole goal seems to be to keep some people as paranoid as possible").

But it was the Monica Lewinsky scandal that pushed the president to the top of his game: "I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky," (six months later) "I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate," "My answers were legally accurate," "I don't recall," "It depends on how you define alone," "That depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

Others offered insights into the great man's character: In a 1996 interview, Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey told Esquire that Clinton is "a remarkably good liar." The president "has not a creative bone in his body. Therefore he's a bore and will always be a bore," said David Brinkley.

Testifying before a congressional panel in 1999, Democratic bagman Johnny Chung said China's spy chief told him, "We really like your president." Judge Susan Webber Wright ruled the president gave "false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process" and fined him $90,000 in the Paula Jones case. And -- on the evening of Feb 24, 1999 -- Juanita Broaddrick told a national television audience that in 1978 the future leader of the Free World raped her in a Little Rock hotel room.

The Clinton-era is etched in our consciousness in words and deeds: Mr. Feel-Your-Pain paying $850,000 to settle Jones' sexual harassment suit, Bill appointing Jane Fonda a "good will" ambassador to the United Nations (a position she used to attack the Catholic Church on abortion and birth control), 14 individuals associated with the Clintons going to prison over Whitewater and related crimes, China looting our nuclear secrets, then-White House spokesman Joe Lockhart describing Hustler as a "news magazine" (publisher Larry Flynt rendered yeoman service during the impeachment by leaking dirt on Republicans), purloined FBI files, the White House travel office massacre and (when informed that her plan to nationalize health insurance might lead to massive bankruptcies) Hillary responding, "I can't worry about every small, undercapitalized business in America."

It's been a helluva ride. But though the Clinton presidency will soon be gone, the memory will linger on -- as will the stench.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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