Monday, January 22, 2001

Week of 01/22/2001

Farewell To A King
- by David Matthews 2

"The nation’s interests have been served and therefore I decline prosecution. This matter is now concluded. May history and the American people judge that it has been concluded justly."

With those words, Robert Ray closed the book on nearly eight years worth of scandals that have shadowed the Presidency of William Jefferson Clinton.

Eight years of various allegations of abuse of public power that have ranged from corruption to perjury to withholding evidence to sexual harassment to outright murder. Eight years of investigations, eight years of arrests, eight years of having dirty laundry aired, eight years of having lives ruined and careers ended. Millions of dollars spent investigating and probing into every aspect of Clinton’s political and personal life, right down to the arc and curvature of his phallus. Can you imagine that? Who would have ever imagined that a president’s sexual appendage would be part of an official report on abuse of power?

And now, after eight years, millions of dollars spent, lives ruined, lives lost, and one impeachment trial held, Bill Clinton left the White House the exact same way he came in… by his own accord. Not in shackles, not in disgrace, not humbled and humiliated, but with his head held high and with a cocky, arrogant, saunter of a man who just got away with murder.

Indeed, many people will tell you that Bill Clinton DID get away with some serious crimes.. if not murder, than certainly a whole litany of crimes that either he’s been accused of, or else investigated for.

For Bill Clinton, the last days in office were spent not building what he would call a "legacy", but rather were spent tying up loose ends.

In the twenty-four hours prior to his leaving office, the last remaining scandals were being cleared. The Los Alamos spy scandal that publicly painted Wen Ho Lee as a traitor to the US was quietly dropped by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Energy saying there was "no evidence of espionage". Linda Tripp, who became the unwilling mole in Clinton’s cover-up of his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky, was fired from her job in the Pentagon. And Clinton’s own people cut a deal with the Office of Independent Council and the Arkansas Bar Association concerning his perjured testimony in the Lewinsky affair that would allow Clinton to escape being prosecuted after he left office and closed the books on the remaining allegations against him.

All that was left for Clinton to do was help his loyal supporter from the Whitewater scandal, Susan McDougal.. which he did through a full presidential pardon just hours before leaving office.

Of course, Clinton would tell you he didn’t go completely without punishment. He surrendered his Arkansas law license for five years, plus he had to pay a $25,000 fine. But both are mere pittances for what he could have been facing. Clinton will be making more money in retirement than he did as President, not counting his wife’s $8,000,000 advance on her future book. And as for his law license, Clinton used that about as much as used his good judgment concerning the women in his life.

Let’s get brutally honest here.. Bill Clinton’s so-called "punishment" is about the same as you or I being charged with grand larceny and only having to pay a nickel fine! The man did the crime, but he will never have to do the time.

As Mel Brooks once said, "It’s good to be the king."

Indeed, the last eight years of the Clinton White House can be characterized not as a statesman leading a nation, but rather that of a king looking for validation.

As president, Bill Clinton has often been called King Bill the First by this commentator, and not without good reason. Of all of the most recent men who have been elected into the White House, Clinton has been the most self-centered of leaders, treating the country he governed not as a temporary guardian, but rather as a king overlooking his fiefdom.

Richard Nixon could have been considered a king by many who remembered his policies. His duplicity concerning Southeast Asia, and his freezing of the economy undid his claims of supporting free trade and of world peace. However, in the last days of his administration, he put the office of the President ahead of his presidency and resigned instead of fighting a pending impeachment. The faults people had back then were with Nixon’s policies, not with the man.

Gerald Ford did not want to be the president. Indeed, he was the only man not elected to the office. He got the job because Spiro Agnew resigned, and he was next in the line of succession. Indeed, Ford never got past the stain that was the Nixon Administration.

Jimmy Carter, in his simple Georgian way, saw himself more of a statesman than a leader. He negotiated rather than delegated, which eventually proved to be his undoing amidst a national depression and world terrorism. He didn’t hide his faults. Rather, he admitted to them freely in the pages of Playboy magazine.

Ronald Reagan was clearly more authoritative than Carter, which at the time was sorely needed. But like Nixon, any faults one might have with him concerned the people around him, not Reagan himself. It was the late William Casey, director of the CIA, who freely admitted to the Iran-Contra affair, or First Lady Nancy Reagan, who consulted with astrologers and complained about the White House china. President Reagan’s only personal faults were his age, and what later would be admitted to as the onset of Alzheimer’s.

The elder George Bush was more in the office to coast on the successes of the Reagan years. As a world leader, his skills were utilized well. Unfortunately that did not translate into economic success for him, and his "read my lips" pledge that was eventually broken managed to put a stop to a second term. The worse you could characterize the elder Bush as being would be just another politician.

Bill Clinton, however, was a completely different person than his predecessors. Where other presidents acted out of genuine concern for the people they governed, Bill Clinton acted more towards his own interests. Somewhat appropriate for a man who came from the "ME" generation.

Every aspect of Clinton’s political life can be characterized by a narcissistic need for attention. Whenever it appeared that Clinton would be considered "soft" on world affairs, he would order bombing strikes on hot spots in the world, be they in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Kosovo. When the House of Representatives was ready to impeach the president, Clinton sent planes to Iraq. Whenever Clinton appeared to be unfaithful to his wife, he would be seen in carefully staged "retreats" with Hillary, or he would be seen taking the family to church, holding the family bible in his hands as though it was a shield from political arrows. Whenever it appeared that people would forget about him, Clinton would stage some event, some appearance, to make sure the cameras caught him.

When caught in a bold-faced lie, Clinton would only tell the truth when it served his interests, and not sooner. And rather than wish people would forget about those failings, Clinton would instead use them as a means to generate sympathy whenever it appeared he was getting too arrogant.

And Clinton’s personal actions translated into duplicity in his job. While Clinton would later question the nation’s drug policy, and he would even pardon his own brother on his last day in office, it was his drug policy that led to the arrests of millions of people for similar charges, and indirectly led to the death of a pro-freedom crusader and best-selling author by the name of Peter McWilliams.

Clinton claimed to support tax cuts and claimed to support "working families", and yet fought tax cuts at every opportunity, preferring instead to offer a glorified IOU to those select families who met certain requirements. Instead of tax cuts, we’re given tax hikes so that "the rich" can pay "their fair share".

Clinton claimed to support a smaller government, and yet all he did was lay off full-time government employees in lieu of consultants, part-time employees, and temps. And the scope and extent of government did not shrink one iota in the eight years Clinton was in office. Instead, it grew, and continues to grow to this very day.

Clinton claimed to have been concerned about the price of gas, yet it was his executive orders that took away millions of acres of property.. much of it rich in oil. Oil that could’ve been used to offset our dependency of oil being shipped from other countries and kept our gas prices down. Instead, those lands are declared off-limits, and much of the oil being pumped from our own lands are being shipped overseas, causing us to be even more dependant on foreign supplies.

These were not the actions of a statesman representative of the people, but rather of a ruler who lorded over them. A king, not a president.

Fortunately, however, this was a king that had a limited reign. Bill Clinton’s days as the new Sun King are over. Divine right gives way to constitutional limitations, and thus President Clinton becomes FORMER President Clinton.

Unfortunately for us, the real legacy he leaves behind is a price tag that WE have to pay… and perhaps it is only just because we the voters are the ones who put Clinton in office and kept him there a second term. We have to deal with the high taxes, and the high prices at the pump, and with the added government burdens placed on us. We have to deal with the hypocrisy and the stain that Clinton left on the office he considered to be his destiny to hold.

One can only hope it is a stain that can be easily removed.

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