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Jewish World Review / August 19, 1998 / 27 Menachem-Av, 5758

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell Played for fools

AT WHAT POINT DO WE FINALLY SAY: "We have been played for fools?" It is not just a question of being repeatedly lied to and misled by the Clintons and their allies in politics and the media. We have been told stories that would insult the intelligence of a child.

Taking it all in, on the NY subway system
Even the brief statement of Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall, after the president's testimony on August 17th, was another insult to our intelligence. He repeated the old, worn-out claim that the special prosecutor had spent "four years and $40 million" investigating "the president's private life."

Let's check some facts. A year ago, special prosecutor Kenneth Starr had never even heard of Monica Lewinsky. He could not possibly have been investigating that sordid episode for more than 8 months out of the 4 years that he has been examining Clinton's many scandals -- most of them having nothing to do with sex.

Only within the past year has sex had anything to do with this investigation -- and only because Clinton's sexual escapades and their aftermath show the very same pattern of deception, stalling, hiding subpoenaed evidence and paying off witnesses that Starr first encountered in the Whitewater investigation. Both the sexual and the non-sexual activities of Clinton have also featured Vernon Jordan showing incredible generosity toward potential witnesses.

It is this pattern of obstruction of justice that is the legal issue and the central issue of any impeachment proceedings that may occur. Shouting "sex" at every opportunity -- for months on end -- has been the way that Clinton and his political and media allies have distracted the public's attention and played us for fools.

Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr has never once said that this investigation is about sex. Others have said that, shouted that, snarled that. But it is the pattern, not the sex, that is the issue.

The same "I didn't inhale" word games that Clinton played years ago have now reappeared in his attempt to weasel out of the perjury that he committed when he denied under oath in January that he had any sexual relation with Monica Lewinsky. Redefining what is and is not a sexual act is now his legalistic escape route.

Obviously, it is the special prosecutor's job to follow Clinton through the twists and turns of this word game. But trying to pin him down to specifics is now called invading his privacy.

Perjury is not a private act, any more than tampering with witnesses and tampering with evidence are private acts.

Why are we paying the taxpayers' hard-earned money to a special prosecutor -- any special prosecutor -- if we are going to get mad at him for doing his job by turning over some rocks and showing what is crawling underneath?

Maybe we would have been happier believing lies. But it is not up to Starr to decide to overlook illegal activity that he was sworn to investigate, whether on grounds that it is about sex or because the president has high poll numbers.

Far bigger than the legal issues or the particular individuals involved in them is what all this means to the kind of government we have in the United States of America. A decade from now, most of the names of those involved in these episodes will be dim memories, if they are not forgotten completely. But the corruption of government and the abuse of power will still be profound dangers.

If Clinton gets away with this -- if he successfully plays us for fools once again -- those dangers will be greater than ever, not from him, but from his successors. And not just for us but for our children and our children's children. But have we become a people who cannot see beyond me and now?

The whole history of the human race around the world has demonstrated in every possible way the corrupting influence of power and the tragedies that follow. Those who wrote the Constitution of the United States understood all this two centuries ago. That is why they went to such lengths to see that power was divided and that no one was above the law.

They did their job. It is up to us to do ours. It is not a question of being a "Clinton-hater." That man will be gone in a couple of years and it will not matter whether you hate him or love him. What will matter is whether we have allowed the laws and the Constitution to be turned into jokes, because we could not see beyond the catch-phrases of the spin masters.

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.