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Jewish World Review May 26, 2000/ 21 Iyar, 5760

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Running out of
luck with home folks -- LITTLE ROCK, Ark.--- Well, naturally it's not his fault. Nothing ever is. It's just those Arkansas customs, coincidences and mores.

But the prodigal son from Hot Springs has run out the string. The home folks have exhausted their patience, in no small part because they're no longer his home folks. He's a New Yorker now. He even has, horrors, a New York wife.

The decision by an ethics panel of the Arkansas Supreme Court to recommend disbarring the president from practicing law has stung his apologists here, just as it has stung the president and his acolytes in Washington. Like everyone else, they knew he deserves whatever he gets (and say so among themselves), but they never imagined that a bunch of Arkansas lawyers (and one brave schoolteacher) on the ethics panel would actually say the shyster ought to be disbarred.

This has been a strange week in Arkansas, stranger still for a native son brought home briefly by a death in the family, which inevitably casts everything else for a moment in surreal shadow, making the magic seem merely bizarre.

Nothing may eventually come of the disbarment recommendation, but it's not every day that a state takes the first step toward disbarring the native son who is the president of the United States from practicing the law that nobody here ever expects him to practice again, anyway, either here (where nobody expects him ever to live again) or anywhere else.

Primary election day fell in Arkansas this week, too, and there was the usual rich feast of surprises and contradictions. George W. and Al Gore won their presidential primaries, as expected, but Lyndon LaRouche, the goofball perennial among the Democrats, ran a surprising race against the veep.

Mr. LaRouche, making his sixth run at the Democratic nomination, polled nearly 20 percent of the Democratic vote and will split the state's delegates to the convention in Los Angeles in August, taking perhaps as many as 10 of the state's 48 delegates.

This was a stunning embarrassment to a state party establishment mindlessly loyal to the incumbent president, which had thought the entire delegation was safe for Good Ol' Al as a final tribute to a native son who as president has never delivered anything to his native state but a torrent of subpoenas.

Nevertheless, the LaRouche showing was something like a hooker showing up at the family reunion. "I never knew of any sort of presence for LaRouche in the state," says Mark Pryor, the state attorney general and the chairman of the Gore campaign in Arkansas (and the son of the former governor and senator, and having a bit of trouble achieving escape velocity in getting his own identity and political career under way). "He never showed up on anybody's radar."

But if there was surprise here, there was incredulity bordering on disbelief at Mr. LaRouche's compound at Leesburg, Va., where wet pants was the order of the day. "This is amazing," says the spokesman for the candidate who never even campaigned here. "We're shocked. We're totally excited. It's incredible."

The explanations here are variable. Some Democrats put it down to "anybody but Gore" in a season where W. is looking better every day. Some others say the LaRouche vote was meant to embarrass Bill Clinton in a week when he humiliated the state one more time. And some Democrats even say that a few of the folks back in the hills and hollows confuse Mr. LaRouche with that other Lyndon, and if ol' LBJ is back for one last hurrah, well, it won't hurt to he'p him out a little.

Some of the lawyers, naturally, are trying to defend the president's lies to the U.S. District Court here the case at hand is the one where the president insisted that the oral favors he received from Monica Lewinsky were not actually sex. Susan Webber Wright, the judge who held him in contempt for lying in the proceedings before her, seems to have the traditional view of wives here and elsewhere, that the old man had better not try that definition here.

One defense of the president is that since he didn't steal any money from a client, lying is not bad enough to warrant disbarment. A reprimand, maybe, but not disbarment. The unspoken corollary, no doubt, is that nobody expects much from lawyers, anyway. Another defense is that since he was in the pantry with Monica as a private citizen, and not a public official, maybe he gets a pass.

And naturally the hucksters, who salivate over the prospect of the presidential library that they think will do for Little Rock what Disney World did for Orlando, are raising the spectre of losing the library.

But others argue that without Monica's thong panties, what kind of a draw would it be, anyway.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes
05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example
05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans
05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales
05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man
05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat
05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary
04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood
04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks
04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go
04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno
04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)
04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts
03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table
03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day
03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult
03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology
03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain
03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden