where the writers are

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 26, 2001 - I think the point a lot of us have been trying to make for a long time has been missed.  I am sure Gerald Ford cut a deal with Richard Nixon when he pardoned him.  Yes, George H.W. Bush served his interests when he pardoned Caspar Weinberger.  However, both of these acts were political judgments, and a fair segment of the populace believed they served the country by sparing the nation trials.  In Weinberger’s case, particularly, he was an honorable public servant who was involved in a political operation.  In Nixon’s situation, Ford judged that the man had suffered enough via public humiliation.  Nancy Reagan was lambasted by the press for “borrowing” dresses.  The house bought for Ronald Reagan was rented by the Reagan’s for $15,000 a month until they bought it, and it had been a gift from old friends who knew them since Hollywood days.  The point is this.


Politics is a sticky business, and anybody in the public eye, particularly occupying the Oval Office, is in an almost impossible situation when it comes to scrutiny.  By saying that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, does a disservice to Reagan, Ford, and even Democrat Presidents like John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.  It does a disservice to the American political system and to the White House, by lumping the Clintons in with everybody else.  It becomes the “power card,” like when Johnnie Cochran goes to the “race card” or implies that because there are a few corrupt cops, all cops are corrupt. 


The press disrespected the Clintons because they were constantly involved in shady, corrupt situations ranging from Whitewater, Travelgate, Monica Lewinsky, the pardons, and so much more.


The press never went after the Clintons like the Washington Post went after Nixon.  The right wing press did, and found a lot of stuff.  None of it was proven in a court of law.  This breaks down to the core of conservative antipathy toward the Clintons, which is that the right still thinks they were guilty of a lot of crimes that they got away with because the evidence was not enough to convict, indict, or prosecute.  The right never proved that the Clintons ran drugs in Mena, Arkansas; had kids killed on train tracks near Mena; profited illegally from Whitewater and insider trading; were involved in Vince Foster’s killing; took bribes for pardons; and many other things.


In America, we say you are innocent until proven guilty.  We disapprove of “whispering campaigns” and “McCarthyism,” and we are right to disapprove of these things.  Still, this does not change the feeling in the guts of a helluva lot of American citizens that the Clintons are guilty of some of these crimes, but just got away with them.


Furthermore, and yes, call it a “whispering campaign” if you must, but what a lot of us think is that even if they did not commit some of these crimes, IT IS SOMETHING THEY WOULD DO.


This may not be fair, but a lot of us have hunches, gut instincts, a sixth sense. What these unproven, yet very strong feelings, tell us is that behind Bill Clinton’s s—t-eating grin is a guy thinking to himself, “I’ve got you all fooled. You fools.”


People are shaped by the times and circumstances of their lives. The Clintons are both American-born, and therefore their personalities overtly reflect, to an extent, the laws, the fairness, the inherent values of the American Way. However, people have at their core inherent traits that transcend their times. What if they lived in a different time and place?


For instance, if they had lived during the Roman Empire, one can imagine that they would have done well for themselves. Hillary, in particular, seems to be the kind of person who, allowed by custom and power, would have ordered that a political opponent, or a servant who displeased her, be boiled in oil or thrown to the lions. It is not hard for me to imagine that, had she be born in Germany in 1900, she would have thrived politically under National Socialism. One may not know enough about what is in her heart to say that she is a reincarnation of the Bitch of Buchenwald, but after eight years we have gathered enough knowledge of her to have some strong opinions. It is probably unfair to cast these kinds of aspersions upon the Clintons, but the impressions described herein are held by a large number of people. Other members of her party, even such long-despised bogeymen as Ted Kennedy, do not elicit such feelings. Why? 


You know what? Their relatives are just as corrupt, just not as powerful.              


The suspicion of millions of honest Americans should not be dismissed as politics, which really besmirches the good name of politics, and the many fine public servants on both sides of the aisle.  Yes, they are just suspicions, but there are so many of them.  So very, very many of them!


Republicans have a problem with Democrats, no doubt, but to say that the GOP would or did react the same way to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Bill Bradley, Dianne Feinstein, Bob Kerry and Joe Liebermann is plain wrong.  The Clintons are a special case, and using the “everybody does it” defense is bad for this country.  Everybody does not do it.  Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely.  That is a phrase used by people who want to cover up corruption, not expose it.


If the Clintons were my people, I would not be out to expose them.  I would be running from them like most of their “supporters” are doing.  Who is supposed to go after them?  The New York Times, the Washington Post or Time magazine?  Yes, they should, but they back off.  They just do. 


Will Janet Reno head up a blue ribbon panel to investigate them?  We know the answer to that question.  The Republicans will go after them because they are the ones who have to do it, just like the Democrats went after Watergate.


Bribery in politics is different from the kind of puffery that Nancy Reagan’s gowns were all about.  The Clintons’ took bribes.  They are liars, corrupt to the bone.  They trade money for favors.  They work illegal deals, but are careful in the way they go about them.


How have they gotten away with it all so far?  Machiavellian intelligence and planning.  They orchestrate each corrupt act ahead of time, knowing what the laws are, what they have to do achieve their schemes without leaving a paper trail.  It is what Lt. Col. Oliver North called “plausible deniability.”  They do not care if they raise suspicions, because they gain power every time an investigation into them falls just shy of nailing them.  This way, they can say that their enemies will stop at nothing to destroy them, but they are clean. 


Mentioning Bill Clinton in the same breath with Ronald Reagan is an abomination.  As for Whitewater, it stretches the imagination that they were not involved in illegalities.  They just covered it up ahead of time.  Susan McDougall and her husband were guilty as sin.  Comparing any of the Clinton pardons to the Weinberger pardon is wrong.


Iran-Contra was a fine idea.  It breaks down to a simple set of factors.  The Cold War raged and a battle for supremacy existed between Communism and freedom.  The Republicans opposed Central American Communism, a noble ideal.  The Democrats did not.  The Republicans figured out a way to fight Communism despite the Democrats.  Lumping this in with the kind of tawdry corruption that Bill and Hillary Clinton engage in is an easy way out, and courageous practitioners of the political arts should know better than to engage in such “comparisons.”