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Jewish World Review Dec. 21, 1998 /2 Teves, 5759

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell The spreading corruption

WITH LIES, AS WITH POTATO CHIPS, you can't stop with just one.

In politics, you can't even stop with just one person telling lies. There have to be new people, telling new lies, to back up the old lies.

Thus the corruption that started in the White House and spread into the court rooms has now spread right into the House Judiciary Committee itself, where defenders of the president have created a whole new pattern of deception, to try to stave off impeachment.

Much political melodrama has been made out of the fact that there has been no cross-examination of Linda Tripp, Monica Lewinsky and others whose testimony and evidence have been used in making the case for impeachment.

What makes all this pure hogwash is that the right to cross-examine accusers is a right that applies in trials -- and the very people who are arguing this way are precisely the same people who are trying to prevent a trial from taking place.

Impeachment is not a trial. A trial occurs in the Senate. Impeachment is the very process of sending a case from the House to the Senate for trial. Most Congressmen are also lawyers, so both sides know all this. But demagogues are banking on the fact that most other people are not lawyers, so they are hoping to get away with this latest deception in a long line of deceptions.

When special prosecutor Kenneth Starr appeared before the House Judiciary Committee for 12 hours, many irrelevant questions about minor figures were asked by the president's defenders on the House Judiciary Committee. What was the point? The point was to get videotape of Judge Starr saying "I don't remember" -- and to use that to counter the fact that Bill Clinton has repeatedly said "I don't remember" when questioned under oath.

The fact that Kenneth Starr, with a small army of attorneys and agents working for him, does not remember all of the vast numbers of people interviewed by his staff is hardly the same as Bill Clinton's not remembering what happened with Monica Lewinsky. Starr never laid eyes on many of the people his staff interviewed, much less got up close and personal like Bill and Monica.

If you stop and think about it, the whole comparison is ridiculous. But again, the demagogues and deceivers are banking on the fact that most people aren't going to stop and think about it.

Another common argument that makes no sense when you stop and think about it is that perjury and obstruction of justice "do not rise to the level of an impeachable offense" because the underlying events were not that important. By this reasoning, the case against Richard Nixon was even weaker, because he had zero involvement in the underlying events that led to the Watergate impeachment crisis.

Nixon didn't even know about the burglary at the Watergate hotel until after it was over. But he obstructed justice to try to protect his people -- and he had to pay the price. The underlying events were not the issue.

White House lawyer David Kendall and White House aide Sidney Blumenthal have both made charges against special prosecutor Kenneth Starr that they both knew were false -- and these charges have found echoes among the president's defenders in Congress and in the media. But what Kendall and Blumenthal also knew was that the proof that these charges were false was in sealed court records that Starr was forbidden to discuss.

When Kendall brought up one of these charges before the House Judiciary Committee, the most that Starr could do was to give him a look and say: "That is untrue and you know it is untrue." Now that the records have been unsealed, we can all find out that it was untrue -- but who is going to look, much less go back and correct the record?

Bill Clinton and his defenders do not care how many of their lies will be exposed in some doctoral dissertation in history 50 years from now. Their goal is to hang onto power right now, by hook or crook.

Former White House press secretary Mike McCurry said that his job was to "tell the truth slowly." In other words, the White House understands clearly that delaying the truth serves their political purposes, even if it is impossible to keep the truth from coming out eventually.

Nothing reveals the utter bankruptcy of the president's case more than the fact that his strongest defenders have to resort to confusing the issues.

12/17/98: Politically "contrite"
12/16/98: Polls and partisanship
12/14/98: The "non-profit" halo
12/11/98: Corruption and confusion
12/03/98: The health care "crisis"
11/30/98: Knowing what you are talking about
11/23/98: The impeachment legacy
11/23/98: Random thoughts
11/19/98: Tales out of bureaucracies
11/16/98: Scholarships based on scholarship
11/12/98: Forward march
11/09/98: Moral outrage
11/05/98: Will the Republicans ever learn?
11/02/98: A voter's duty
10/30/98: The poverty pimp's poem
10/29/98: Random thoughts on the election
10/27/98: "Partisan" and "unfair"
10/23/98: Ed-u-kai-tchun
10/21/98: McGwire, Maris and the Babe
10/20/98: MURDER IS MURDER!
10/16/98: Lightweight Boxer
10/14/98: A strange word
10/09/98: Impeachment standards
10/08/98: Alternatives to seriousness
10/07/98: Heredity, environment and talk
10/02/98: A much-needed guide
10/01/98: Starr's real crime
9/24/98: Costs and power
9/18/98: Are we sheep?
9/16/98: Judicial review
9/15/98: Hillary Rodham Crook?
9/14/98: Taking stock
9/11/98: Moment of truth
9/04/98: Random thoughts
8/31/98: The twilight of special prosecutors?
8/26/98: "Doing a good job"
8/24/98: America on trial?
8/19/98: Played for fools
8/17/98: A childish letter
8/11/98: Hiding behind a woman
8/07/98: A flying walrus in Washington?
8/03/98: "Affordability" strikes again
7/31/98: Random thoughts
7/27/98: Faith and mountains
7/24/98: Clinton in Wonderland
7/20/98: Where is black 'leadership' leading?
7/16/98: Do 'minorities' really have it that bad?
7/14/98: Race dialogue: same old stuff
7/10/98: Honest history
7/09/98: Dumb is dangerous
7/02/98: Gun-safety starts with
parental responsibility
6/30/98: When more is less
6/29/98: Are educators above the law?
6/26/98: Random Thoughts
6/24/98: An angry letter
6/22/98: Sixties sentimentalism
6/19/98:Dumbing down anti-trust
6/15/98: A changing of the guard?
6/11/98: Presidential privileges
6/8/98: Fast computers and slow antitrust
6/3/98: Can stalling backfire?
5/29/98: The insulation of the Left
5/25/98: Missing the point in the media
5/22/98: The lessons of Indonesia
5/20/98: Smart but silent
5/18/98: Israel, Clinton and character
5/14/98: Monica Lewinsky's choices
5/11/98: Random thoughts
5/7/98: Media obstruction of justice
5/4/98: Dangerous "safety"
5/1/98: Abolish Adolescence!
4/30/98: The naked truth
4/22/98: Playing fair and square
4/19/98: Bad teachers"
4/15/98: "Clinton in Africa "
4/13/98: "Bundling and unbundling "
4/9/98: "Rising or falling Starr "
4/6/98: "Was Clinton ‘vindicated'? "
3/26/98: "Diasters -- natural and political"
3/24/98: "A pattern of behavior"
3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.