Jewish World Review April 29, 2002 / 17 Iyar, 5762
It's the misconduct, stupid
By the time the General Accounting Office gets around to finalizing its draft report on the giant temper tantrum triggered by the inauguration of George W. Bush -- that notorious hissy-fit that put the White House office complex at the mercy of Clinton administration staffers-turned-vandals -- we'll have heard all about the $200,000 in taxpayer money that was spent to investigate what amounts to $14,000 in damage to White House property. So much taxpayer money, the Democrats will say, spent on what appears to be relatively little destruction. Or, as one former Clinton official has already put it to The Washington Times last week, "So much sound and fury signifying nothing."
That's Shakespeare, isn't it? While it's always nice to see former Clinton administration officials attempting a little cultural uplift, not even the Bard himself can elevate the tone this time around. What's needed now is an apology, not a soliloquoy. Remember when Rep. Anthony D. Weiner, D-N.Y., held a press conference last year to declare that the Bush White House administration had made up the whole story? The Bush administration, Weiner said, had "deliberately misled the American people and smeared the names of public servants who were guilty of nothing." Weiner, alas, seems to have been misinformed. According to the GAO report, the Bush administration was right, and those poor "public servants" were guilty as charged. The report offers more than enough evidence to prove that the White House was indeed vandalized by petty-criminalizing Clintonistas on their way out of power.
According to the newspaper article, the GAO probe has assessed the reimbursable damage to the White House at as many as 75 computer keyboards (destroyed by Clinton staffers who snapped off the "W" keys), broken chairs and tables, the theft of two antique doorknobs and one presidential seal, as well as a tangle of cut telephone wires. "Some (telephone) wires were cut," a former Clinton official who has seen the report admitted to The Washington Times, "but they had been inactive for a decade." You might wonder how this former Clinton official knows that the very wires that were cut had been "inactive for a decade," but what's more important about this blindly reflexive urge to justify not-so-petty crime is what it says about Clinton-style protocol: It's OK to disable government telephones so long as they're already out of order.
Meanwhile, the GAO report catalogues other vandalism -- the kind that doesn't necssarily show up on the taxpayers' tab. Incoming Bush administration staffers came to their first day of work last year to find desks overturned, garbage thrown on the floor and nasty graffiti defacing the walls. There were obscene voice mail messages programmed into White House telephones and pornographic pictures left in office printers. "In addition, the report says staffers disabled or reprogrammed at least 75 phones," the newspaper article continues, "sending the new Bush aides into chaos for the first few days of the Bush administration."
It was nothing that couldn't be fixed, of course -- nothing that couldn't be put right, picked up, painted over, erased, or removed. But this was a White House in transition, not a Woodstock mosh pit. That must have been some introductory task: Bush staffers cleaning up after Clinton staffers. Of course, that would be just the
JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Diana West