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Jewish World Review / August 31, 1998 / 9 Elul, 5758

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell The twilight of special prosecutors?

JANET RENO may be appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the fund-raising scandals of the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign, but this could be the last year in which we will see an independent counsel or special prosecutor appointed.

After the previous law authorizing special prosecutors expired, it was -- ironically -- the Clinton administration which insisted on reviving that law, over the opposition of many conservatives.

Liberals in general have long been in favor of special prosecutors. But, now that they have learned the hard way that special prosecutors do not always investigate Republicans alone, there may well be a change of heart when time comes to either renew the current law or let it expire again.

Even in the unlikely event that the law authorizing special prosecutors is renewed, it may never again be possible to get people of the high caliber needed for that office. Look at what has happened to Kenneth Starr.

Here is a man who was making far more money as an attorney in private practice -- a man with an impeccable record as an appellate judge and as Solicitor General of the United States, a man highly respected by members of both political parties and with an enviable reputation that caused the New York Times to praise him as "non-partisan" when he was appointed to this office. Today, after a non-stop smear campaign by White House character assassins and their media allies, his public approval rating is lower than that of a convicted criminal like Susan McDougal.

Who needs it? Who is going to want to put a lifetime record of integrity and honor at risk, in order to become a pariah for doing his duty as special prosecutor?

Add to this the strict rules of a grand jury investigation that prevent a special prosecutor from defending himself against even the biggest lies and you have a job that has become a firetrap for anyone's reputation.

Even those who have joined the howling mob denouncing Kenneth Starr cannot produce a single concrete fact to back up charges that Judge Starr is "out of control," "partisan," "extremist," "obsessed" and all the other cheap phrases that are repeated endlessly. The tragedy is that no facts are necessary.

Indeed, no facts are available. Kenneth Starr himself has said virtually nothing, except for a few pleasantries to reporters who gather outside his home or who follow him to or from courthouses. The public may be sick and tired of talk shows that drive this case into the ground, but Judge Starr has not appeared on any of those shows.

In substance, he has said nothing and most of what he does is secret. Yet he is hated and despised by people who could not possibly know either his words or his deeds, much less his motivation.

Such is the power of propaganda, especially in a generation with dumbed-down education, who have never been taught to think, but only to react emotionally.

A classic example were the cries of outrage that went up when Susan McDougal was seen being taken to and from court in chains. Kenneth Starr was denounced repeatedly in the media for this, even though he has no authority whatever to tell prison officials how prisoners should be transported.

Another example of orchestrated smears was the attempt to demonize philanthropist Richard Mellon Scaife and then to smear Starr through guilt-by-association with Scaife. The White House spin-masters pointed out that Starr had been offered a job by Pepperdine University, to which Scaife had given money, and that Scaife had also financed investigative journalists who pursued the Clinton scandals.

Richard Mellon Scaife has given money to all sorts of institutions from coast to coast, educational and non-educational, black and white, political and non-political. Moreover, Kenneth Starr has never even met Scaife. Ironically, the Clintons have not only met him but have had Scaife as their guest in the White House, because he also contributed money toward the renovation of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Shameless lies are the hallmark of the Clinton administration. When the president's August 17th speech referred to the innocent people who have been hurt, he apparently did not mean Starr, Scaife, Paula Jones, and all the others that his attack dogs went after.

8/26/98: "Doing a good job"
8/24/98: America on trial?
8/19/98: Played for fools
8/17/98: A childish letter
8/11/98: Hiding behind a woman
8/07/98: A flying walrus in Washington?
8/03/98: "Affordability" strikes again
7/31/98: Random thoughts
7/27/98: Faith and mountains
7/24/98: Clinton in Wonderland
7/20/98: Where is black 'leadership' leading?
7/16/98: Do 'minorities' really have it that bad?
7/14/98: Race dialogue: same old stuff
7/10/98: Honest history
7/09/98: Dumb is dangerous
7/02/98: Gun-safety starts with
parental responsibility
6/30/98: When more is less
6/29/98: Are educators above the law?
6/26/98: Random Thoughts
6/24/98: An angry letter
6/22/98: Sixties sentimentalism
6/19/98:Dumbing down anti-trust
6/15/98: A changing of the guard?
6/11/98: Presidential privileges
6/8/98: Fast computers and slow antitrust
6/3/98: Can stalling backfire?
5/29/98: The insulation of the Left
5/25/98: Missing the point in the media
5/22/98: The lessons of Indonesia
5/20/98: Smart but silent
5/18/98: Israel, Clinton and character
5/14/98: Monica Lewinsky's choices
5/11/98: Random thoughts
5/7/98: Media obstruction of justice
5/4/98: Dangerous "safety"
5/1/98: Abolish Adolescence!
4/30/98: The naked truth
4/22/98: Playing fair and square
4/19/98: Bad teachers"
4/15/98: "Clinton in Africa "
4/13/98: "Bundling and unbundling "
4/9/98: "Rising or falling Starr "
4/6/98: "Was Clinton ‘vindicated'? "
3/26/98: "Diasters -- natural and political"
3/24/98: "A pattern of behavior"
3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.