Jewish World Review Feb. 4, 2002 / 22 Shevat, 5762

Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reiley
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Back room deals -- IT is called horse trading. Politicians making secret deals and hoping Americans never find out about them. It has been done since George Washington was president, and America is the less for it.

Right now in Washington, D.C., President Bush needs the cooperation of the Democratic leadership to pass important legislation. The education bill is already done, the prescription drug bill is being formulated, and the economic stimulus package, well, that is never going to fly the way Mr. Bush wants it, no matter what he brings to trade.

Because of his father and experienced advisers, George W. Bush understands the way the Washington game is played. You must make "accommodations." You must give something to get something.

And what Mr. Bush may have given the Democrats is an assurance that he will not embarrass their party by aggressively pursuing the Marc Rich pardon investigation. Although the Justice Department continues to say that probe is "on the front burner," agents have told me there is little incentive to get things done. In fact, one investigator said, if you push too hard on the case, you could find yourself in Fargo, N.D.

By all accounts the Marc Rich situation looks terrible. Rich and his partner Pincus Green were indicted in 1983 on charges of evading $48 million in taxes and violating trade sanctions with Iran -- which, at that time, was brutalizing American civilians held in Tehran.

Rich skipped the country and set up shop in Switzerland, living lavishly and tossing huge amounts of money to Swiss politicians, as well as power brokers in Israel and Spain.

There was simply no reason for President Clinton to pardon Mr. Rich, who is obviously a fugitive from justice and a corrupter. In fact, Clinton advisers John Podesta, Bruce Lindsey and Beth Nolan all testified that they strenuously objected to any pardon for Marc Rich.

But Bill Clinton pardoned him anyway and has never given a compelling reason for doing so.

Many observers feel that the millions of dollars that flowed into Mr. Clinton's library fund and political action committees may have influenced the former president's behavior. Marc Rich's ex-wife Denise ponied up a more than a million dollars for Democrat causes (including Hillary's senate campaign) and another $450,000 for the Clinton library. Ms. Rich's friend, Beth Dozoretz, pledged to raise another million for the library.

Of course, President Clinton has access to those library funds, so a quid pro quo scenario is not hard to envision.

Believe it or not, there are some politicians who would avoid even the appearance of impropriety, but Bill Clinton and his wife were never in that camp. There is little doubt that money talked in this case. The only thing left to prove is what did the money say and do for Mr. Clinton?

You would think that all Americans -- and especially our elected leaders -- would want to know all there is to know about the possible bribery of a sitting president. You would think. But try calling John Ashcroft's justice department to ask for a status report on the investigation. "No comment" is all you'll get.

This is wrong and insulting to Americans with integrity. We deserve honest government, and we are entitled to some answers. But those answers will not be forthcoming any time soon, possibly because the fix is in.

I can understand this from a political point of view. The Bush administration feels the future of the country is more important than what has happened in the past. And the experienced Bush team understands that any embarrassment of Mr. Clinton would provoke open warfare between them and the leaders of the Democratic Party, making legislation very difficult to pass.

So the prevailing wisdom is to keep the investigation open, and maybe down the road -- maybe -- kick it into gear if the GOP regains control of the Senate. That option is political power over the Democrats. If things get rough, the Marc Rich pardon deal can always be used as a threat.

That's the way the political game is played these days in the halls of power. Not nice, not right and not in the best interests of the American people. Above all, we need honest government and the highest standard of behavior from our elected officials.

But right now, that's a pipe dream, as political and corporate corruption continue to sweep the land. That's the truth, and please pardon me for bringing it to your attention.

JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.


01/28/02: From boom to bust
01/21/02: The Fairness Doctrine
01/14/02: Hey, Paula, take it to the bank and hush up
01/07/02: And justice for none
12/31/01: All that's left
12/24/01: Santa is appalled
12/17/01: Fight the power
12/10/01: The black challenge
12/03/01: How things have changed
11/26/01: Waiting in the Bushes
11/19/01: The sign of the Cross
11/09/01: Hollyweird strikes back
11/06/01: The fear factor
10/26/01: Show me the money
10/22/01: See no evil
10/15/01: Peace, but no quiet
10/08/01: The air war
10/01/01: I don't understand
09/24/01: We are all soldiers, and we have a job to do
09/14/01: Evil on display
09/11/01: Family matters!
09/04/01: End of summer blues
08/27/01: Summertime -- and the livin' ain't easy
08/20/01: The rap on rap
08/13/01: The truth hurts
08/06/01: Amnesty for illegals: Bush's political investment
07/30/01: The big picture on Condit-Levy
07/24/01: Silence of the Shams
07/16/01: Condit, Kennedy and cable news
07/09/01: Heather needs a childhood: The unnecessary loss of innocence
07/02/01: What would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"?
06/25/01: Freak dancing
06/18/01: Work or die
06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate