Even the liberal editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post had to avert their eyes. It was that vapid and that painful.
When Bill Clinton’s long-awaited $12-million autobiography emerged last week, the Times and Post panned it in front-page stories and then quickly banished it from their news sections entirely.
But the liberal establishment cannot evade the truth: Bill Clinton is their past, their future, their quintessential representative.
If–as many expect–the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate some day (most likely in 2008) they will be trying to put Bill Clinton back in the White House. After all, as Clinton reminds us in his book, he and Hillary are soulmates.
The national Democratic Party and the establishment media did their best to elect Clinton twice, earnestly labored to cover up his serial abuses of the presidential office, and ultimately sold their souls to prevent him from being convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in a Senate impeachment trial where his guilt was incontestable.
To protect Clinton from being drummed out of office for misusing the presidency in an effort to thwart a federal court proceeding against him, every Democratic senator lied, after having sworn to administer impartial justice, by claiming that Clinton was not guilty. They paid Clinton the highest form of flattery: They emulated him. They recapitulated his perjury, only they did it on the Senate floor rather than in a federal court or grand jury.
John Kerry, the current Democratic presidential candidate, cast two perjured votes for Clinton: “Not guilty” and “Not guilty.” Clinton was so much Kerry’s man he was ready to lie under oath for him.
Thus was laid the cornerstone of the post-Clinton Democratic Party: contempt for the truth.
In his book, Clinton unintentionally reveals the consequence of putting someone with contempt for the truth in the nation’s most powerful office. Such a person is incapable of strong and correct convictions (which can only be rooted in respect for truth) and therefore is prone to weak character. In Clinton, this led not only to his multitudinous scandals, but also to bad command decisions that he did not believe in himself and that put human lives at risk.
Clinton, for example, describes his woeful decision-making process when he ordered the FBI raid on the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Tex., causing the deaths of 80 people, including 25 children.
The raid and resulting negative press coverage weren’t really his fault, Clinton suggests. They were the fault of Atty. Gen. Janet Reno and adviser George Stephanopoulos. They browbeat him into doing what he did.
Clinton reports that when he was governor of Arkansas he faced a situation much like the Branch Davidian holdout. But in that instance he stopped the FBI from making a raid, and quarantined the premises. “Eventually the holdouts gave in,” he writes, “and the suspects were apprehended without loss of life.”
But on April 18, 1993, when Reno came to him to get permission to order the FBI raid in Waco, Clinton himself could not hold out. He did not want to order the raid, but his attorney general was tougher than he was. “When Janet made her case to me,” he said, “I thought we should try what had worked in Arkansas before we approved the FBI raid.” But Reno argued with him, and Clinton gave in.
Carnage ensued. Then Clinton worried about the blame.
“I knew I needed to speak to the press and take responsibility for the fiasco,” he writes. “So did Dee Dee Myers and Bruce Lindsey.”
But George Stephanopoulos wanted the President to wait before accepting the responsibility. He argued with the President. And he won.
“For the second time in less than 24 hours, I had accepted advice that ran counter to my instincts,” writes Clinton.
“Nobody can be right all the time,” he says, “but it’s a lot easier to live with bad decisions that you believed in when you made them . . . ”
It’s a tragedy that America had to live for eight years with a President who made life-and-death decisions he didn’t believe in when he made them.
But it’s a blessing that President Clinton’s ludicrous book was published on the heels of President Reagan’s magnificent funeral. The contrast could not be more illuminating: Two men rose out of Middle America to the highest office in the land. One, a conservative, had unshakable convictions that led him, despite the establishment’s derision, to defeat Soviet communism and win the Cold War. The other, a liberal, had no convictions at all, which led him, despite the establishment’s unending applause, to commit high crimes–before winning a Senate impeachment trial.
Reagan is our movement’s legacy. Clinton is theirs.