JWR Jeff JacobyBen WattenbergRoger Simon
Mona CharenLinda Chavez

Paul Greenberg Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellClarence PageWalter Williams
Don FederCal Thomas
Political Cartoons
Left, Right & Center

Jewish World Review /September 9, 1998 / 18 Elul, 5758

Mona Charen

Mona Charen

Does Burton's sin let Clinton off the hook?

THE CLINTON SPIN MACHINE must be triumphant about news that Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) fathered an out-of-wedlock child nearly two decades ago. What a perfect reopening of the "everybody does it" argument and reintroduction to the claim that the president is being persecuted for nothing more than private conduct.

Before turning to the question of whether Rep. Burton's case is comparable to President Clinton's, it is worth pausing to notice that this tactic -- smear the critic -- is part of what makes this presidency so malodorous. It was he who maligned Gennifer Flowers as a liar and gold digger in 1992, while obviously knowing that she was telling the truth. It was the president who instructed his aides to slander Paula Jones as "trailer park trash." Resolution Trust Corp. investigator Jean Lewis lost her job after noting "a concerted effort to obstruct" the probe into Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan. Billy Dale lost his White House Travel Office job and almost lost his freedom at the hands of this president, who falsely accused him of corruption.

Some of the stories of intimidation by Clinton agents sound more gangland than presidential. Dolly Kyle Browning, another Clinton girlfriend, was warned that "we will destroy you" if she talked. The state troopers who revealed that they procured women for then Gov. Clinton have been defamed and threatened.

The Internet magazine Salon, with close ties to the White House, has also hinted that no congressman's private life is safe if Congress moves ahead with impeachment.

Burton released the information about his extramarital relationship because Vanity Fair magazine (a frequent ally of this administration) was preparing an expose.

But Burton wasn't even No. 1 on the White House hit list last week. When the courageous and principled Scott Ritter tore the veil off the weak and deceptive U.S. policy on chemical and biological weapons in Iraq, the Pentagon leaked word that Ritter had been accused of sharing information with the Israelis -- a false charge. This is the same Pentagon that illegally released information (also false, it turns out) from Linda Tripp's personnel file. No one has yet been disciplined for that breach of trust and law.

Also on the administration's hit list was Rep. Paul McHale (D-Pa.), the first Democrat to call for the president's resignation. Now this required a double dose of gall and venom -- they attacked the man's war record! The draft dodger himself lets his people whisper that McHale may not have deserved all the medals he won in the Gulf War. That's like Imelda Marcos criticizing Mother Teresa's charity work. It need hardly be added that the charge is false.

But back to elementary distinctions: Rep. Burton's adultery is deplorable, but it does not vitiate the case against President Clinton.

This is a case about sex (no one should be afraid to disapprove of terrible sexual behavior) but not simply a case about adultery. If it had come to light that President Clinton had an affair 18 years ago with a woman his own age, it would not have plunged the country into talk of impeachment -- which brings us to a bit of last week's conventional wisdom that is dead wrong. We are told that is it now clear that the Supreme Court erred in ruling that the Jones case could go forward. "It certainly did disrupt the presidency," it is intoned. No, the civil case required only a deposition from the president. If he hadn't lied, nothing more would have followed. But this is a criminal matter now.

It concerns perjury, suborning perjury, misuse of government resources (like using federal employees to cover up his sordid sexual conduct), and obstruction of justice. It concerns arrogant and reckless use of people and power. There's a bit more to it than an extramarital affair.

Bill Clinton has succeeded to a remarkable degree in convincing large numbers of Americans that such corruption is acceptable and commonplace. That in itself is another count against him and brings us to why there must be an impeachment. As it is, Clinton will be remembered as man who corrupted many able people around him. He must not be remembered as the president who corrupted a great and good nation.


9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
7/10/98: Guns as the solution?
7/8/98: Teacher preacher
7/6/98: The China behind the headlines
7/1/98: What is the First Amendment for?
6/26/98: The Republican city
6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
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.