Commentary

Bill Clinton: There He Goes Again

This essay was distributed nationally by Copley News Service.
Bill Clinton cares. He empathizes. With everyone. But he never helps anyone.

Like accused spy Wen Ho Lee, released after nine months in federal custody. Of Lee’s long detention, declared the president: it ”just can’t be justified.” He was ”quite troubled.”

But, Clinton won’t do anything about it. Not for Lee. And not against Attorney General Janet Reno or Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, both of whom retain his support, explains press secretary Joe Lockhart. Indeed, said Lockhart, the president’s remarks should not be read ”as a blanket criticism of anyone.”

This is pure Clintonism.

His signature policy success in 1993 was sharply raising tax rates. To pass it, Clinton played the class war card, even though the wealthy pay the vast majority of taxes today the top 10 percent account for nearly two-thirds of income tax revenues.

Then, in advance of the 1996 elections, he told an audience of high-rollers that they might be surprised to know that he believed he’d raised taxes too much.

Yet, the president did not propose reversing his hike. He blocked subsequent congressional proposals to lower rates. And he proposed an orgy of new spending to squander the money collected. But he empathized.

There’s Rwanda. Up to 800,000 people died in a case of genuine genocide, in contrast to the highly exaggerated propaganda claims made about Kosovo. But the president, despite his sanctimonious comments about America’s international humanitarian responsibilities, did nothing.

Years later, after the bodies were buried and the murderous regime had been overthrown, Clinton said he wished the administration had acted differently. Yet, when the crisis in East Timor blew up, Clinton’s national security adviser, Sandy Berger, pronounced the killings like his daughter’s messy college dorm room, which he had no responsibility to clean. But Bill Clinton empathized.

And, he certainly empathizes with himself. The poor man is heartbroken that he might be disbarred by the Arkansas State Bar after having committed perjury before a grand jury, federal court and Congress. Imagine!

In what should be a parody, The New York Times reported that his fight to keep his law license ”has left him especially angry and dispirited.” According to one unnamed friend, Clinton is ”livid, off-the-wall angry” about the proceedings. Bring it up, and ”his mood immediately darkens.”

The president thought that the Senate’s refusal to remove him from office vindicated him. But, it turns out that someone thinks lawyers are supposed to tell the truth.

Naturally, he believes he is blameless, that the fight is part of the political vendetta against him. What really bugs him is that it is occurring in his home state: friends say that he might even move his presidential library in response.

Of course, Clinton is worried about his treasured legacy, which would obviously be stained by disbarment. Even Richard Nixon, who resigned his law license under fire, was not so dishonored.

But, the Clinton legacy is set. He is only the second president in history to be impeached. He created the most celebrated sex scandal in U.S. history and turned the presidency into an embarrassing soap opera.

He presided over one of the most corrupt administrations in history. No one, other than a paid Democratic flack, would argue that he has fulfilled his promise to create the ”most ethical” administration ever.

A legion of associates has gone to jail, fled the country, resigned under fire and suffered curious memory lapses before investigative bodies. Lies became the administration’s modus operandi to deflect attention from dubious financial dealings and crooked fund raising.

And, these supposed lovers of humanity, Bill and Hillary Clinton, proved willing to run over any person who got in their way or dump overboard any friend who was no longer useful. But, always in the name of ”serving” the public or ”protecting” the Constitution.

Their conduct would not be so maddening if they ever took responsibility. But, they never do. It is always the fault of the ”vast, right-wing conspiracy” of the Clinton-haters, of someone, anyone, else. Sometimes, it’s even the fault of his supposed allies and friends.

But, this reflects pure hubris. Bill Clinton is responsible for his own problems. Had he not sought to profit from his position as governor of Arkansas.

Had he not sought to use the federal government to reward his friends. Had he not thought the fund-raising laws did not apply to him.

Had he not sought to cover up his misdeeds. And, had he not perjured himself and obstructed justice.

He would be leaving office as a successful and respected president. But that would mean Bill Clinton was not Bill Clinton.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.