JWR Roger SimonMona CharenLinda Chavez
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Left, Right & Center
Jewish World Review / March 17, 1998 / 19 Adar, 5758

Mona Charen

Mona Charen

Skeletons in every closet?

DEFENDERS OF THE president have wondered aloud who could withstand the kind of intensive investigation to which he has been subjected. Why, anyone subjected to the scrutiny of an independent counsel, we are told, will be revealed as having committed crimes.

There is a cynicism inherent in that claim which says a great deal more about those making it than about the claim itself. It lends credence to the idea that Clinton's defenders are either immoral themselves or incapable of Ken Starr judging immorality in others -- which is another kind of immorality.

There are many people in this country, unbiased by political considerations, who believe that President Clinton falls far below the moral standards set by almost all other presidents and below the standards of the average American.

Is it true that an investigator, given enough time and money, can find crimes in anyone's closet? Let's look at the record of independent counsels since the statute was first passed in 1978. Each counsel had unlimited time (the investigation of abuses at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Reagan administration is still ongoing) and unlimited funds. There have been 20 independent counsels appointed to investigate officials from four administrations. Of those 20 probes, only six yielded indictments, guilty pleas or convictions that were not reversed or pardoned, and three of those were from the Clinton administration.

It seems that some closets are dirtier than others.

And speaking of withstanding scrutiny, the country should collectively applaud the spotless life Kenneth Starr has led (if anyone really cares about personal morality anymore). How do we know? Because the Clinton White house has hired two and possibly more private investigators to nose around in the backgrounds of every lawyer on Ken Starr's team -- with special emphasis on Starr himself. Starr, it seems, is the kind of man who can withstand even the most intrusive investigation unscathed.

When Mike McCurry, the president's press secretary, was asked about rumors that the president had hired private detectives to dig up dirt on the independent counsel, he said that neither the White House "nor any of President Clinton's private attorneys has hired or authorized any private investigator to look into the background of ... investigators, prosecutors or reporters." Within a few days, the White House was forced to admit that Terry Lenzner, owner of a firm called Investigative Group Inc., had been retained by Williams and Connally (presidential adviser Robert Bennett's law firm).

When asked if he or his staff were looking into the backgrounds of Starr and other lawyers in the independent counsel's office, Lenzner told The Washington Post, "I'd say there was nothing inappropriate in that."

It may have been Lenzner who unearthed the tidbit about Linda Tripp having been arrested for theft while a teenager. According to CNN, she lied on her Pentagon application form by answering "no" to the question "Have you ever been arrested?"�� Quick as a wink, Secretary of Defense William Cohen was on the air saying that if Tripp lied, this was "very serious."

Life is getting very confusing. Doesn't this administration take the view that lying is not all that important? Doesn't it believe that elected officials should just get on with the jobs the American people hired them to do and not go rummaging around in the past?

Tripp says she was innocent and was never charged in that incident, which occurred when she was 19. But if the administration is going to be consistent, it seems they must admit that Tripp's brush with the police was a private matter having nothing whatever to do with her Pentagon job. If she lied on her application or security clearance, so what? Lying is no measure of character, is it?

Bill Clinton stared into a TV camera and told the American people that he did not have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. It looks now as if he also made that statement under oath in his deposition. Ditto for his encounter with Kathleen Willey. It doesn't matter what happens to the Jones case. The key fact is that we have in the White House a man who can swear falsely on a Bible and then trash those who tell the truth -- a man completely without honor or decency.


3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.