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We Learned It From Watching You, Bill; a Simple Man?; Just You Wait


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Jonah Goldberg

WE LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU, BILL
Well, the show trial is over. It has ended in the worst possible way, as the demonstrable fraud it was. I would have been perfectly satisfied if the Senate acquitted the President after a lengthy and legitimate trial. Hell, I would have been satisfied if the House failed to pass articles of impeachment, if the full story had gotten out.

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Instead, we’ve learned the lesson that cover-ups, attacking people’s motives, and obstruction are a president’s best and most appropriate tools for dealing with criminal investigations. Defenders of the president say — off camera or over lunch-”Yeah, he probably did obstruct justice and perjure himself, but this was just about sex.” Well, that’s a lie. But, assume it’s true for a second, how do people think he learned how to obstruct, attack, distract, and delay? Whitewater, Fund-raising abuses, Travelgate, Filegate, all sorts of non- sex scandals where the President honed his skills at hiding the truth from its seekers. The Senate, as an institution, if not as individuals, inspected a Potemkin Village of lies, declared it sound because that was the popular thing to do, and moved on to a vote. Shame on them.

A SIMPLE MAN?
Of course, it is only fitting that Linda Tripp, finally, has come forward — just in time to have no effect on President Clinton’s “trial.” She has told the New York Times and NBC news her version of events — a version that is, by far, closer to the truth than anybody else’s. Of this I have no doubts. The reason she is in this mess, is that she has an unconventional and inconvenient attachment to the truth. Monica Lewinsky did not write those talking points without the aid of either the president, Bruce Lindsey, or somebody else very close to them. Monica Lewinsky always planned on covering up and cooperating with the obstruction. Linda was never a Clinton hater. She voted for the president and her first instinct when she ran into trouble was to seek the counsel of Bruce Lindsey, not Ken Starr or Richard Mellon Scaife, or even Lucianne Goldberg. She did what she thought she had to do.

And, I love that she says she did it for patriotic reasons. Nothing rankles the Left more than the “patriotism dodge.” What has rankled me from the beginning is that the press and political class have generally been so willing to surrender to the character assassination of Linda Tripp. The American public wants its characters to be easily digestible and singularly motivated. Linda Tripp can’t be complicated because then we would have no villain. So, she’s fat, ugly, cruel, and, of course, a betrayer. Enough said. Meanwhile, the president, the man who let some unstable girl — whose name he could barely remember — service him (and bring along pizza, to boot), is allowed to be complicated.

JUST YOU WAIT
So what are President Clinton’s achievements? The vice president said at the Post-impeachment Rose Garden bash that Clinton was one of our greatest presidents. Why? What has he done?

His defenders point to the success of the economy as his greatest achievement. Well, this is an interesting contention. Presidents always get an undue amount of credit or criticism for the economy while in office. But afterwards, their legacy is almost completely divorced from the nation’s economic performance. Quick! Who was president during the Era of Good Feeling!?! What president should get credit for the Roaring Twenties? Sure, people know times were good during the 1950s but nobody really gives Ike much credit for it.

When presidents do get judged according to economic criteria its usually part of a larger discussion of economic trends. FDR ushered in a new era of economic handholding by the federal government. Will Clinton get credit for the current economic boom? Extremely doubtful. The recession Clinton supposedly got us out of was a tiny blip that was technically over before Bush got out of office. More accurately, we’re currently in the 17th year of the Reagan boom. Or really, the Thatcher boom.

So what else, does Clinton claim as his great achievement? What else will Gore cite as evidence that Clinton is a “great president?” To be honest, except for the lies, the cynicism, and the promiscuity, there is nothing he’s done that doesn’t fall into the category of mediocrity. Health-care reform? Botched. Diplomacy? Where? What? Seriously, I cannot imagine how he will not perceived as the twentieth century’s most accomplished liar and little more, especially as the facts the Senate never cared to uncover start trickling out.

Defenders love to say the President won. Won what? How does he come out a winner? He didn’t lose his job. Woooo! Make ready for the balloon drop! The last year can’t be dismissed. His “victory” will be recorded in the history books as the narrow getaway of an irredeemable liar and cad. If that’s how victory is defined, bully for the party of the “winner.”

CORRECTIONS
I know today is usually day time for amusing and self-deprecating corrections. But I have already waxed prolix and the gang at NR like it when I can keep it short (too late). So I will be running corrections on Monday. And, as usual there is much for me to correct, address, and amend about dogs, the sweatiest movie, my atroshous speling and gramer, Teletubbies, Machiavelli, and I’m sure something I got wrong in today’s column.

So, be of good cheer for I am. We are out of the President’s knickers at last and off into the undiscovered country.



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