Return to the essay table of contents
Return to the Home Page
5. CLINTON'S CRIMES: WE MUST NEVER FORGET (March 2004)
Is it ancient history to you now? Are you bored at the very mention of it? It
isn't enough that criminality by an American President goes unpunished, it must
be utterly forgotten too? This Extended Political Essay, like the one preceding
it, is above all an exercise in memory, in the faith that memory preserves the
lessons we cannot forget if we are to prosper and advance.
As I mention in the Bio section of this website, since 1997 I have been a
Producer at WOR Radio in New York City, and in that role I have worked with the
cream of American talk talent-- Bob Grant, Jay Diamond, Joey Reynolds, Lionel,
the Dolans, John R. Gambling, Joan Hamburg and on and on. Another host I worked
with-- on an occasional basis-- was Joan Rivers, who for several years had a
two-hour evening show at WOR. Basically, I liked her, though she has an edge,
obviously, and sometimes you're the recipient of it. But fundamentally, she's a
decent person, as well as brilliant, sort of flaky and exceptionally witty. She
was, for the most part, a Clinton defender too, and, like so many commentators,
pooh-poohed the Lewinsky to-do while plumbing it for all its (endless) comic
possibilities. I enjoyed her "stand-up", but at the same time I was frustrated
and angry that she really didn't "get it", what was at stake with this man,
meaning that this one pat of mud came from a larger swamp, and to help her
understand this I went ahead on my own and researched and tried to clarify the
whole vast sordid mess of him. I typed everything up and gave it to her
Manager-- and never heard boo after, on- or off-air.
And by the way, if you doubt what I'll be writing, all my sources are available. Just write or e-mail me. However, I will include a few sources right in the essay, especially when the truth seems unbelievable.
My work sat. And then along came a website....
You need to know too; and even if you're aware, and even if you're one of the few to whom this still is a living subject, there are details you've forgotten or never learned. I intend to run through my findings as rapidly as I possibly can, boil each scandal down to its hard filthy core, and race on, so this can serve as the Essential Clinton Scandal Primer. But before I do, be it understood that these are the "scandal scandals", and they still can never, in their amoral depths, match the policy scandals-- the willing impotence in the face of terrorist challenges that led to 9/11, and the impenetrable cowardice and moral deadness that led him to turn his back on the desperate cries for help of millions in Rwanda, the Sudan, the former Yugoslavia, North Korea and other killing fields.
In the summer of 1978, when Clinton was running for Governor of Arkansas, a friend named Jim McDougal recommended an investment: property along the White River (Whitewater). The idea was to build vacation homes there. The Clintons and McDougals bought it, going 50/50 on the mortgage. It didn't prove a good investment, and shortly after the 1992 Presidential election the Clintons sold their interest in Whitewater to Jim McDougal for $1,000. Where's the crime? The main charge was that Clinton, as Governor in 1986, illegally pressured David Hale, who ran a federally-backed lending agency, to make an illegal $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, who used about $50,000 to pay off Whitewater expenses. The loan was never repaid (except by the taxpayers). Independent Counsel Robert Ray, issuing a final report on the matter in 2000, said there wasn't sufficient evidence to prove that, or even to prove Clinton knew about the loan or that he testified falsely about it. (Though at his trial David Hale testified Clinton was at the loan discussion meeting.) Left unexplained, probably never to be explained, is a $27,600 cashier's check produced at the McDougals' trial by the FBI and made out to Clinton by the McDougals' bank (Madison Guaranty) in 1982, though not endorsed by him. The McDougals' bank, which Hillary Clinton did legal work for, was closed down by the federal government in 1986 for bad loans and accounting practices. Jim and Susan McDougal and David Hale all ended up in prison. But nothing illegal could be pinned on the Clintons. True, Hillary's law firm's billing records regarding the McDougals, subpoenaed in late 1993 and Spring 1994, somehow were "lost", till they were found by a staffer in the White House family quarters in August 1995, and not offered by Mrs. Clinton till January 1996. "When the records were subpoenaed, numerous White House officials had to know of their existence and-- possibly-- their whereabouts. Yet the subpoenas were ignored." (N.Y. Times, 2/17/96, page 22) Shortly before leaving office in January 2001 Clinton pardoned Susan McDougal. Her husband had died in prison.
Vince Foster was a lawyer in Hillary's Rose Law Firm. After Bill Clinton's election he became Deputy White House Counsel. He was involved in all sorts of stuff. He'd worked on Whitewater matters at Rose. His scrawlings are all over those Madison Guaranty billing records Hillary didn't produce till January 1996. According to Webster Hubbell, another Rose lawyer, Foster might have been the one holding them up until his death. He investigated White House Travel Office workers when the Clintons wanted to dump them for their own people, and worked with the FBI trying to get goods on them. (The FBI didn't, but they did discover use of cocaine, crack and hallucinogens among the Clinton replacements. [N.Y. Post, 10/16/96, 19] ) He died of a gunshot wound to the head early in the administration, on July 20, 1993. Barring new evidence, it should be accepted as a suicide. No crime, correct? All we can say is that after his death White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum and other staffers blocked federal investigators from Vince Foster's office. They apparently searched it themselves. "A White House security officer later testified that he had seen Maggie Williams, Mrs. Clinton's chief of staff, carrying files from Mr. Foster's office the night of his death." (N.Y. Times, 2/17/96, 22) But there's
no crime, because the Clintons weren't involved. Bernard Nussbaum and the staffers did all this on their own!
Clinton's promiscuity and unfaithfulness while President (and before and after) are a given, and not even the staunchest Clinton supporter will risk ridicule by denying it. The only discussion is: Did his behavior ever cease being truly private? If it did, it weakened his ability to do the job of President, and Congress then had a right to impeach, if it wished. And beyond that might be actual crimes, the kind you spend time in jail for, or pay criminal or civil penalties for.
All of the following is undisputed:
1) On January 7, 1998, Monica Lewinsky signed an affidavit, prepared by a Vernon Jordan-referred lawyer, falsely denying having sex with Clinton. The day before she'd discussed the affidavit draft with Jordan, and phone records show Jordan calling Clinton less than thirty minutes after that discussion. Lewinsky in the affidavit: "I have never had a sexual relationship with the President..." Clinton backed up this lie in his Paula Jones case deposition ten days later. Clinton had suggested an affidavit to Lewinsky (but not necessarily lying on it). The day after Lewinsky signed the affidavit, Clinton friend and Washington lawyer-powerbroker Vernon Jordan called Ronald Perelman, a major Clinton contributor and head of Revlon, to push Lewinsky for a job. In his twelve years as a Revlon director Jordan had never recommended anyone for a job. And five days later, she was hired as a $40,000-a-year PR person. (The job was later withdrawn as the scandal blossomed.) Previously, Clinton secretary Betty Currie worked on White House Chief Of Staff John Podesta who worked on UN Ambassador Bill Richardson to offer her a job, which he did. (She turned it down.) Later the chain was Currie to Podesta to Jordan. Others involved at various times trying to get a job for this young nobody were White House Chief Of Staff Erskine Bowles and Legislative Affairs Director John Hilley. The likes of a Perelman, Jordan, Richardson, Currie, Podesta, Bowles or Hilley would normally never take notice of the likes of a Lewinsky, let alone get them jobs. (According to the Starr Report, after he got her the job Jordan called Currie and told her: "Mission accomplished.") There can be almost no question here that Clinton was involved in bribing Lewinsky to keep her mouth shut about he and she. Time Magazine (9/21/98, 45) said that while working to get Lewinsky a job Jordan was "reporting to Clinton every step of the way." Jordan was continually on the phone to Clinton during the process. (And it was Lewinsky herself who'd suggested Jordan to Clinton as her ideal job finder.) Clinton's main fear was that Lewinsky would testify negatively about his character and sexual past in the upcoming Paul Jones sexual harassment case. (Lewinsky had been subpoenaed to testify.)
It appears the Clinton apparatus had a way with job-bribes. Clinton insider Dick Morris reported (N.Y. Post, 10/1/98, 6) "Former Miss America Elizabeth Ward Gracen says she was offered acting jobs through the Hollywood-connected Clinton operative Mickey Kantor in return for denying a sexual encounter with Clinton when she was Miss Arkansas." And of course Clinton gave former lover-- this one he admitted to-- Gennifer Flowers an Arkansas state job after she threatened to go public with their thing. And then there's flight attendant Debra Schiff, who certainly got to witness the "bad boy" side of Clinton on their campaign plane. She ended as a White House receptionist and then with a nice job in "protocol" at the U.S. State Department.
2) Clinton lied in public when he said on January 26, 1998 in a news conference "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
3) Clinton also lied in his Paula Jones deposition on January 17, 1998 when he said "I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky." This was perjury. (As Clinton later told Kenneth Starr's Grand Jury: "My goal in this deposition was to be truthful, but not particularly helpful." [N.Y. Times, 9/22/98, B4] ) But he couldn't quite pull off the first part either.
4) All of the Clinton/Lewinsky sex took place in the White House, on public time, when he was supposed to be working for us. (See my Short Essay # 16: "The Starr Report-- One Last Time".)
5) Clinton's private life opened him to blackmail. Certainly, Gennifer Flowers successfully blackmailed him into giving her a job, and Monica Lewinsky's request/demand for Vernon Jordan involved blackmail. And the Starr Report states Clinton told Lewinsky "he suspected that a foreign embassy...was tapping his telephones...", and he instructed her to deny their affair, with whoever.
6) In December 1997 Paula Jones' lawyers asked for letters between Clinton and Kathleen Willey, whom he allegedly kissed, fondled and sexually harassed at a November 1993 White House meeting. Willey was later given paid White House jobs or assignments, and top White House fundraiser Nathan Landow admitted to "a half dozen" talks or meetings with Willey between 1994 and 1997. (In August 1997 Willey had been subpoenaed to testify in the Paula Jones case.) Again, a noted powerbroker taking amazing interest in a nonentity. Clinton's lawyers denied there were such Clinton/Willey letters. Yet in March 1998, when Willey went public on TV, the letters were immediately produced in order to discredit her. The December 1997 refusal appears to be concealment of evidence. Of course, testifying before the Starr Grand Jury Clinton offered his own tortuous "legal" excuse for why the letters first weren't produced and then they were: "...we were duty-bound to search and turn over evidence or, excuse me, documents that were in my personal file, but not in the White House files." This is almost as good as, before the Starr Grand Jury: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the-- if he-- if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not-- that is one thing."
7) On January 14, 1998 Lewinsky delivered a document of "talking points" to Linda Tripp, who was an eyewitness to the immediate aftermath of the November 1993 Clinton/Willey meeting and heard an account of it from Willey, urging Tripp to testify that Willey's account was a lie. Among the specific "talking points" Lewinsky urged on Tripp: "You and Kathleen were friends....You did not see her go in or see her come out....You now find it completely plausible that she herself smeared her lipstick, untucked her blouse, etc." If Clinton gave Lewinsky the "talking points" document to deliver to Tripp that crime is called witness tampering. Or was Lewinsky, like Bernard Nussbaum and the staffers, just an amazing self-starter?
In the end, Clinton's only punishment was a meaningless five-year suspension of his law license in Arkansas, plus a $25,000 fine there, for his perjury in the Paula Jones deposition. But Bob Herbert of the N.Y. Times, a liberal who nonetheless has a sense of what is right, put it best in his 2/5/98 column "The Clinton M.O." : "It is about more than Mr. Clinton's sex life. It is about a governing style that is so reckless and so contemptuous of both the truth and the public that potentially paralyzing scandals are all but inevitable. It is about deceit as a way of life." As to those who still would insist that impeachment shouldn't result from a President's sex life-- top constitutional scholar Gerald Gunther of Stanford Law School has the truest response: "it would be justifiable grounds for impeachment as a breach of trust". The second article of impeachment, after all, passed by the House against Richard Nixon in 1974, charged him with no specific crime either, simply, and powerfully, of acting "in a manner contrary to his trust as President..." The truth is, "high crimes and misdemeanors" are whatever Congress wants them to be. Congress is not a court of law, and impeachment has its own rules.
Amazingly, we're just getting started. there is, for instance:
Webster Hubbell's family had been well taken care of by the Clintons even before the Presidency. At the Rose Law Firm Hillary Clinton had prepared a real estate document valuing a parcel of Whitewater property at $400,000. (After Madison Guaranty failed, the federal government got $38,000 for it.) Federal regulators concluded the bank used Mrs. Clinton's document to deceive bank examiners about hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions paid to Webster Hubbell's father-in-law. (In 1996 Mrs. Clinton said-- ninety-nine times-- that she couldn't recall what she did, nor could she recall at least fifteen conversations with the father-in-law, though billing records prove they took place.)
In December 1994 Webster Hubbell, the number three man in the Justice Department, pleaded guilty to stealing over $400,000 from the Rose Law Firm and its clients. This is what Starr got him on. In July 1995 he headed for federal prison to serve a two-year sentence. But his silence never cracked on Whitewater and the other matters about which he had intimate knowledge. Simple loyalty? Anyone who doubts that Bill Clinton was skilled in the buying of silence should test their doubt against the following:
Hubbell stepped down from his Justice Department position on March 14, 1994. Between then, and the beginning of his sentence, he received at least $700,000 from 18 different sources:
He was hired by old Clinton friend Bernard Rapoport, at the instigation of another old Clinton friend Truman Arnold, for Rapoport's insurance company.
Arnold, the top fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in 1995, also hired Hubbell for his own Truman Arnold Company and immediately gave him $18,000.
Ron Perelman-- that man again!-- hired Hubbell to work at two of his companies. Perelman paid Hubbell $25,000 per quarter for a "public relations" job at Revlon, plus $60,000 from Perelman's MacAndrews & Forbes Holding, but Hubbell was never able to explain what work he actually did for either.
But we know what Hubbell did for the Los Angeles Airport Commission, which hired Hubbell on a secret basis, possibly illegally. It paid him $24,750, in return for which Hubbell made two five-minute phone calls to a Washington Department Of Transportation official. Oh, and Hubbell did seven other hours of "work", which primarily consisted of brief phone conversations with-- the Los Angeles Airport Commission official who hired him.
The same sort of super-highpowered job-finding team that handled Lewinsky swung into action for Webster Hubbell. The man who called Ronald Perelman to get Hubbell his two jobs-- was Vernon Jordan. And Mickey Kantor, the Hollywood-connected Clinton operator who offered former Clinton tumblee-in-the-hay former Miss America Elizabeth Ward Gracen some acting gigs, worked with White House Chief Of Staff Thomas F. ("Mack") McClarty 3rd and future White House Chief Of Staff Erskine Bowles to get Hubbell more "work". Time Warner, The Pacific Telesis Group, The Mid-America Dairymen's Association, Sun America Inc. (a California financial services company owned by close Clinton friend Eli Broad), The Consumer Support And Education Fund ($45,000 in three months), C.W. Conn ($18,000 payment on July 28, 1994), Harper Collins ($61,667 for a manuscript never delivered), all gave to Hubbell. There's no need to go on with this filth. However, we haven't touched on one very special Hubbell employer:
THE RIADYS, THE LIPPO GROUP, JOHN HUANG & CHINAGATE:
Payment to Hubbell of $100,000-150,000 for supposed consulting services was made by the Riady family of Indonesia. Mochtar Riady is an Indonesian billionaire and head of the Lippo Group. From 1991 on he and his son James Riady (who first met Clinton in Little Rock in 1977) "steered" $1 million to Clinton and his party. The $140,000 collected by Al Gore at a Buddhist temple in California in April 1996 was steered his way by the Riadys. Some of the donors at the temple were Buddhist nuns and monks who had taken vows of poverty, but were able to come up with as much as $5,000 apiece.
Then, two months after Hubbell was put on the Riady's payroll, Commerce Secretary Ron Brown announced approval of a joint $2 billion Chinese/American project involving Riady businesses. One of the American corporations involved in the deal was headed by C. Joseph Giroir Jr., former law partner of Hillary Clinton and Webster Hubbell at Rose Law Firm.
Five days after Clinton's election the Riadys sold a stake in their Hong Kong bank to China Resources Holding Co., owned by the Chinese government, and, according both to Hong Kong officials' accounts confirmed to Newsweek and the draft of a Republican Senators' report ("But they're Republicans-- what do you expect them to say?"), part of the Chinese government's spy apparatus.
The temple fundraiser where Al Gore cleaned up was organized by John Huang, a long-time Lippo executive, once an employee of a Riady bank in Little Rock, an important Clinton fundraiser, eventually the Riadys' number one man in America-- and appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Commerce by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who also waved his background check. As Deputy Assistant Secretary Of Commerce Huang apparently had access to all Commerce Department classified documents, received 37 CIA briefings, made over 400 phone calls to Lippo associates, and visited the Chinese Embassy 6 times.
In March 1996 Charlie Trie, a Little Rock restaurateur and trader connected to Huang, visited Michael Cardozo, Director of Clinton's Legal Defense Fund, and presented a plain brown envelope containing $460,000 in checks and money orders, many with the same handwriting, the money orders sequentially numbered. (The money was eventually returned.) In 1996 Trie received a series of 5- and 6-figure wire transfers from the Chinese government's Bank Of China. He also had wired to him over $1 million by one Wang Jung, who controlled CITIC, an investment house partially owned by the Chinese government. At least a third of that money was given to the Democratic National Committee. Who had 24-hour-a-day access passes to Charlie Trie's Watergate apartment? White House aide Mark Middleton and Democratic National Committee White House Liaison Susan Lavine. CITIC had a stake in one of Hong Kong's largest satellite companies. Clinton signed a waiver allowing China to launch four American satellites. In January 1998 the White House conceded that some of these satellites could be used for military purposes. This was against U.S. law, but the White House just said there was now nothing it could do, and got away with it. Charlie Trie basically got away with his criminal actions too, arranging a cozy little plea deal with Clinton's Justice Department in 1999 and not serving any jail time (three years probation, including four months home detention).
In December 1996, General Chi Haotian, Chinese Minister of Defense, the man who ordered the Tiananmen massacre, was a guest of the State Department, touring American military installations, including nuclear. At an October 1997 dinner for visiting Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Clinton announced that for the first time the U.S. government would allow the sale of nuclear materials and information to China, despite a 1985 law prohibiting such sales to nations involved in the illegal spread of nuclear materials and technology. China has sold nuclear war material to Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Pakistan and other nations. Just this month (March 2004) newly declassified documents reported "that China has provided assistance to Pakistan's program to develop a nuclear weapon capacity" and that the nuclear weapon design obtained by Libya from Pakistani Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program and perhaps the world's number one individual nuclear proliferator, originated in China. American intelligence has suspected China of such activities since the 1960's. In February 1998, against the strong opposition of the Justice Department, Clinton approved the export, by Loral Space And Communications, of technological knowledge to China allowing them to improve their nuclear missile reliability. This was against U.S. law, and the Justice Department and the Customs Service launched criminal investigations, but they of course both came to nothing. Loral's Chairman, Bernard L. Schwartz, was the largest personal donor to the Democratic Party in 1997. Because so much nuclear knowledge and technology, enhanced by Clinton's actions (he also gave China Most Favored Nation status), have been passed on to nations with terrorist ties, as American intelligence knew and knows, perhaps one day Clinton's legacy to his country will rise as a mushroom cloud over one or several of our cities, and the deaths will reach into the hundreds of thousands (about comparable to the deaths in that Rwanda he turned his back on).
In April 1998 it came out that most of the money funneled to the Democratic National Committee by another Democratic fundraiser, Johnny Chung, in the summer of 1996, came from the Chinese Army. (N.Y. Times, 5/15/98, A1) Chung was a very frequent visitor to the White House (at least 49 times from 1995 on) When it came time for punishment, Clinton's Justice Department was as accommodating to Chung as it was to Trie: a 1998 plea deal resulting only in probation and community service.
--- Occidental Petroleum gave about $350,000 to the Democrats. Clinton then gave Occidental permission to negotiate an oilfield development deal with the Sudanese government, slaughterer and enslaver of millions of blacks. (The "first black President".) (See: N.Y. Times, 1/28/97, A20 and N.Y. Newsday, 1/27/97, A28)
--- On April 11, 1996, U.S. Trade Representative (this time he operated with an official title) Mickey Kantor asked the World Trade Organization to take up a grievance by Chiquita Banana and rule for it. The very next day Chiquita President Carl Lindner and Chiquita executives began their contributions of over $500,000 to 24 Democratic state organizations. Formerly, Lindner had been known only as a conservative and long-time G.O.P. supporter. (See: N.Y. Times, 3/26/97, A21 and N.Y. Post, 6/5/97, 24)
--- Alan Solomont, a Massachusetts nursing home mogul, and occasional Clinton jogging partner, gave Democrats $160,000 and raised $1.1 million from other nursing home owners. In May 1997 Solomont and a team of lobbyists met with Secretary Of Health And Human Services Donna Shalala and asked for less stringent enforcement of nursing home regulations. He got most of what he wanted. (See: Time, 2/10/97, 32)
--- On October 22, 1996, at a fundraiser at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, Clinton was slipped a card by a Florida exporter R. Warren Meddoff. It read: "My associate has $5 million he is prepared to donate to the DNC." Clinton replied: "Let me have another of those cards." On October 29, 1996 Meddoff was contacted by Deputy Chief Of Staff Harold Ickes, who asked for money. Meddoff asked for a change in U.S. policy: He wanted the President to lift the ban on aid flights to Cuba. Clinton lifted the ban that day. (In the end, the DNC didn't accept the money.) See: Newsweek, 2/10/97, 34 and N.Y. Post, 2/17/97, 25 [originally published in The New Republic] )
On and on it goes, never ending, corruption that calls for an essay three or four times this (even my section on Chinagate only touches highlights): the corruption of Secretary Of Agriculture Espy, the DNC paying the salaries of 20+ White House staffers (one of whom gave it information from the White House data base which the DNC used for fundraising, against federal law), the 900 FBI background files the White House obtained, Sioenggate, Casinogate, Thaigate, on and on, and finally the loathsome last-minute pardons of an army of criminals, Clinton supporters, criminals, Clinton contributors, and criminals.
And we've barely touched on those higher crimes which resulted in the deaths of millions overseas (and 3,000 here). But I especially can't shake Rwanda. Black Americans treat Clinton with love, as a champion. Black Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, in 1998, called him "America's first black President". On April 21, 1994, General Romeo Dallaire, UN Commander in Rwanda, said he needed only 5,000 troops to bring the escalating holocaust to a halt. The same day the Clinton administration, working through the Security Council, succeeded in ordering Dallaire's force reduced 90% to 270, and Clinton's Secretary Of State Madeleine Albright worked to reduce his force further. Clinton also issued Presidential Decision Directive 25, offering a host of reasons for avoiding U.S. involvement, refused to lend a number of action-ready African nations 50 armored personnel carriers (in the summer of 1997 the U.S. armored personnel carrier inventory stood at 25,185), and had the State Department refuse to label the vast slaughter-- which would take about 800,000 lives-- as genocide under the 1948 Genocide Convention. He was waiting for a Rwandan businessman to wire $5 million to the Democratic National Committee, I guess.
As I read this essay back, I am astounded that the main charges in the
impeachment of Bill Clinton did not involve the bribing of Monica Lewinsky,
Webster Hubbell and others to obtain their silence, other major criminal
actions, and, above all, the outright sale of his administration to China, to
such a detriment to the safety and future of his own country that surely treason
could have been fairly charged. Kenneth Starr examined many such dark trails,
yet ignored them in the end. As for the "women part" of his scandals,
perjury was clearly among his crimes, and could have alone served for his
removal, slight as it was by comparison to the other acts, if Congress had so
chosen. Rereading the Starr Report (reprinted in the N.Y. Times, 9/12/98)
I am amazed at Starr's stupidity and incompetence. It reminds me of the
stupidity and incompetence of Marcia Clark and company in losing their slam-dunk
O.J. Simpson case. It is the work of a man who shows up for a dance with two
left feet. The Starr Report is almost entirely given over to Monica Lewinsky,
with a little Paula Jones added. A considerable portion is devoted to pop-eyed,
drooling and ludicrous detail about their "affair": "....the President hugged
her....kissed her on the neck, praised her intellect and beauty....fondled her
bare breasts with his hands and mouth....unzipped his pants and exposed his
genitals....the President gave her...gifts...an Annie Lenox compact disk, and a
cigar....Ms. Lewinsky testified that she has 'always been a date-oriented
person.'....'And then I made a joke and I said, "Well, can I be Assistant to the
President for Blow Jobs?" He said "I'd like that." '....she was not
certain that the stains were semen. She had dined out after the radio address,
'so it could be spinach dip'....After the sexual encounter, she saw the
President masturbate in the bathroom near the sink....observed the President
'manually stimulating himself' in Ms. Hernreich's office....the President put
his hand over her mouth during a sexual encounter to keep her quiet...."etc.
Starr needed to minimally establish there was sex between the President and his "ex-paramour" (Starr's word) for the perjury charge to have credibility with Congress, that's understood, but Starr was tone deaf to the overkill of his report, its honking ludicrousness, which made the serious into the comic. Since, then, the vast epic story of Clinton corruption and crime was reduced to a single sexual comedy with some modest illegality attached, he gave an out to the Democrats and a few Republicans in the Senate to dismiss the seriousness of Clinton's deeds, reducing the trial to a partisan ritual whose outcome was preordained. He was like a man in a burning room who could only focus on a stain on the rug. Chilling things happened in the Clinton administration, things so unacceptable to contemplate, and painfully complicated as well, it's understandable why the American system, like the American mind, in the end blanked out. Laughter, ignorance and denial became a refuge.
It has been suggested that enough monkeys given enough typewriters for enough
time will eventually write Hamlet. But in fact, they never will. Instead,
they hit the fundamental wall of their limitations. In going back over the
Clinton scandals it is horribly apparent that the entire American system and
psychology hit its limit, well short of a capacity to do justice. And, more
importantly than "doing justice" (an abstraction), tending to its own best
interests. For it is not in America's interest to have Presidents who are
criminals. They are less efficient than honest Presidents, prone to great
errors, and distracted from their primary responsibility: the well-being of (not
themselves, not their clients, not their lovers, not their bribers) their
And so, in the end, he got away with it. But make no mistake. We are less for it, and since he didn't pay the penalties we have and we will.
Return to the essay table of contents
Return to the Home Page