A Dose of Misplaced Outrage

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Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who voted to acquit President Bill Clinton in1999, wants to impeach former President Bill Clinton in 2001.

Even Democrats profess to be shocked, shocked at the former president'sbehavior. Where have they been for eight years?

Clinton started early. As governor, he shook down the local Arkansasbusiness elite. Hence the Whitewater "investment," Hillary's legal feesand her astounding cattle futures profits.

He treated women, his wife and assorted paramours alike, as tools for hisconvenience. He used state employees to procure and obscure.

Once in office, he fired the White House travel office staff to transfer thebusiness to his friends, and then misused the FBI to justify his actions.The first lady lied about her role in the affair. After promising the "mostethical administration in history," the president appointed assorted cheatsand miscreants. The Clintons obstructed investigations of their dubiousbusiness dealings.

Aides suffered convenient memory losses at critical moments. ConfidanteWebster Hubbell collected bags of "consulting fees" on his way to jail.

Subpoenaed evidence turned up in the White House family quarters and FBIfiles ended up in White House offices. No one knew how.

Along with Vice President Al Gore, the Clintons turned the White House intoan expensive motel, collecting cash for breakfasts and overnight stays.Contributors won seats on Commerce Department trade missions. No check wasrejected, irrespective of the giver's nationality or business.

The president had sex with a White House employee half his age. Committedperjury in a lawsuit charging him with sexual harassment. And, lied to agrand jury. Then was charged by other women with harassment and even rape.

While fighting to survive politically, the president trashed the rule of lawand villified his opponents. He appeared to time military strikes againstAfghanistan, Iraq and Sudan for political purposes.

He spent his last full day in office agreeing to accept a five-yearsuspension of his law license in Arkansas. And, dickering with SpecialProsecutor Robert Ray to avoid indictment.

During his last hours in office, he lobbed pardons far and wide. He pardonedformer Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, a political hack who abused the taxpayers, andformer Rep. Mel Reynolds, a political hack who abused a 16-year-old girl. Hepardoned his brother. And Susan McDougal, who protected Clinton by refusingto testify against him.

None of this bothered the president's supporters.

But the Clintons finally did something unforgivable. They greedily cartedoff thousands in gifts, many of which, it turns out, were intended for thegovernment. And, they did so after Hillary signed a book contract with an $8million advance.

Then, Clinton asked the taxpayers to pony up for lush office space atCarnegie Hall Tower, overlooking Central Park in New York City. His rentwould have cost more than that for the offices of the four other retiredpresidents combined.

Finally, Clinton pardoned Marc Rich. Rich, accused of violating oilregulations, trade controls and tax laws, fled America for Switzerland toavoid prosecution.

To these his liberal friends object.

Leading Democratic Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., Rep. Elijah Cummings,D-Md., a member of the black caucus. One-time presidential candidate Sen.Joseph Biden, D-Del. Television personality Geraldo Rivera. Washington Postcolumnists Richard Cohen and E.J. Dionne. The New York Times editorial page.

And, apparently, many of the New Yorkers who twice voted for him forpresident and elected his wife to the Senate.

"I'm a big Clintonite," complained novelist Dominick Dunne to the New YorkObserver.

"But, I have to tell you that I am disappointed beyond disappointed. Givinga pardon to a crook who gave up his citizenship the whole thing stinks andsmells."

One unnamed critic told the Observer that "I have yet to find one personwho can defend, explain or support what they've done." Author Judy Greenopines, "It's much more horrific than sex at the office."

Observes Dunne: "They still will invite him to dinner. But, I think there'sa little wariness in the air."

And, even dinner might not be certain. New York Post gossip columnist LizSmith reports one socialite complaining: "He is just a terrible dinnerguest. In the first place, he isn't interested in any woman over 30. Hedoesn't listen either. He lectures and rambles on. This is going to behorrible having him in New York."

More horrible than having him in the White House?

The behavior of the departing Clintons was squalid, even shocking. But, thatisn't news.

What's different now is that he is out of power. So, even his formersupporters don't believe they have to be nice to him anymore. Although it'stoo late to impeach him, again, it isn't too late to treat him with thecontempt that he deserves.