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Jewish World Review Jan. 30, 2001/ 7 Shevat, 5761


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The Dems are finally beginning to 'get it'! -- FINALLY, AT LEAST some Democrats are realizing that the disgust felt by law-abiding Americans for the Clintons wasn't "just about sex." The shabbiness of the former President's transition-the pardons, the thievery, the vandalism, the graft (Hillary's housewarming registry), the relaxing of lobby restrictions, Jack Quinn, the Riady deal, just for starters-is unlike anything this country has seen since the Harding era. And that's probably unfair to Harding.

I wonder how junior historian Douglas Brinkley feels now about the op-ed he contributed to The New York Times on Dec. 21. It was an upbeat essay on the passing of power at the White House. Everyone was a hero: Al Gore, George and Laura Bush and the Clintons. Incredibly, Brinkley notes: "But it's President Clinton who has truly set the proper tone."

He continues: "Since Election Day, Mr. Clinton has reassured foreign countries about the inherent stability of our government, assiduously stayed out of the partisan fray, and brought appropriate touches of light humor to the Florida recount charade. He has behaved, well, downright presidentially. Critics may mock him for always feeling our pain and feigning atonement, but for the past six weeks he has been a steadying force. As the transition proceeds, we can be grateful that Mr. Clinton, unlike some of his predecessors, seems to be keeping both national unity and good manners in mind."

I'd say that gibberish was worthy of Geraldo or Lanny Davis, what about you?

Despite Clinton's hayseed departure from office, some holdouts in the Democratic Party and media still insist he'll be the shadow president. I don't believe this. Sure, he'll rake in $10 million or so from a starstruck publisher for a book deal, in which he'll reveal nothing truthful or germane about his presidency.

And it's possible the country's Narcissist Laureate might still be a fundraising draw in the minority communities. But as time passes, so will his celebrity. As a private citizen he won't have a squad of spinners to successfully mask his criminal behavior. A number of Democrats are thinking about their own future and won't need Clinton's help: Sen. John Edwards (at this very early juncture, the smartest pick to challenge Bush in 2004), John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and the smarmy Joe Biden will distance themselves from the Oval Office reign of the 90s.

In the coming year, look for a spate of kiss 'n' tell bestsellers from Clinton aides who are no longer threatened by retribution from the former First Couple. You won't get juice from Bill and Hillary, but Sid Blumenthal-once a rat, always a rat-is bound to spill some beans in his upcoming tome. Yes, it'll be self-serving-these "inside accounts" usually are-but Blumenthal knows where a lot of bodies are buried. He's no longer employable as a journalist-unless Salon, if it's still in business, takes him on-but the creep is an actual writer who has some scores to settle and the desire to make a living. If a publisher says, "Deliver the dirt on the Clinton administration and we'll pay you X dollars," does anyone doubt that Sid will whip up a manuscript by the Fourth of July?

And what about all the other Clintonites who stood loyally by the President, incurring legal bills to save his skin? Just as George Stephanopoulos cashed out almost two years ago, becoming the First Survivor, you know that ghostwriters are currently being interviewed by victims-by-choice such as Janet Reno, Donna Shalala, Robert Bennett, Betty Currie, Maggie Williams, Joe Lockhart and probably a few White House maids and butlers. Granted, many of these books will have a patina of loyalty, and will contain many chapters on the "achievements" of the past eight years, but there are more than enough mudpiles of unsavory details about this administration to go around.

JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press ( Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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