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Livin’ La Vida Loca


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Jonah Goldberg

LIVIN’ LA VIDA LOCA
Right now, this FALN deal is just plain funny, funny in the tragicomic sense as opposed to the pull-my-finger kind of funny, but a knee-slapper nonetheless. In fact, it’s almost like an opera, with its outlandish characters and sudden plot changes.

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Often, when you go to the opera, they give you a little one-pager that explains the story for those of us who don’t know the language. Here’s a quick primer on the story so far.

BILL CLINTON, POTUS (the “P” stands for President, in case you had something else in mind). Every time some would-be Ayatollah or also-ran Idi Amin blows up a house, a car, a school, a bus, or any other noun you can think of, our fearless commander in chief bites his lower lip, adjusts himself like a major-league baseball player with a minor-league cup, and then looks America in the eyes and says “we must have zero tolerance when it comes to terrorism.” He has been known to say this when he has just bombed the wrong target in the wrong country for the wrong reason — well, not quite the wrong reason, considering his grand-jury testimony got shoved to below the fold. But anyway, he likes his bomber jacket, he digs his “war-time president” pose, and he just loves having a rationale for launching cruise missiles at foreign countries (almost as much as he loves launching into your Happy Meal at McDonald’s). What makes all these things possible is the very real threat of terrorism.

THE FALN. Their names are irrelevant and so is what the acronym means. All you need to know is that this is a bunch of guys fighting for the “liberation” of their country, despite the fact that their country perpetually votes to keep its sweetheart deal as the tax-free cruise-ship dumping ground of the Western Hemisphere. And while their cause is a joke, what they do — or rather did — is not. They kill people. They kill American people. They kill American people on American soil. In 1982 they bombed a police station. They blew up a restaurant in downtown Manhattan called Fraunces Tavern (coincidentally, this was the only restaurant I ever had a Thanksgiving dinner at — Momma G. had a root canal and self-indulgently refused to cook for three days straight). They blew up other places and people and were working very hard at killing large numbers of Americans. This is a crime in most jurisdictions. In fact, in some quarters of the civilized world, it’s actually called, shhh, don’t tell anybody, “terrorism.”

Okay, this part you know: The FBI caught a bunch of these FALNers making bombs and planning on doing that terrorism stuff that the president bites his lip about.

HILLARY CLINTON. This is Bill’s wife and Bill’s wife wants to be a Senator. Hillary Clinton is quite possibly the single most overrated public figure of the 20th century. Her political instincts are uniformly terrible. She wanted to be a feminist icon and when she played one on TV her poll numbers went through the floor. When she stood by her man like Tammy Wynette — something she swore she’d never do — her numbers went through the roof. She launched a health-care fiasco that is now synonymous with fiasco. More recently, she told Talk magazine she never made a decision on her own in her entire life. Now, one supposes because she’s mixed her prescription medicines, she thinks this is actually a qualification for a major public office. Perhaps she thinks fear of heights should be a requirement for the space-shuttle program. Or perhaps “horrendous disfigurement” should come right after “poise,” but before the swimsuit competition, in the Miss American Pageant.

THE PLOT. Bill is fidgety like the kid sitting next to me on the train as I write this column. He isn’t running for office anymore and his days in the White House are growing short, which means ordering up a steaming plate of interns, with cruise missiles on the side, will soon no longer be an option. He — it would seem — thought he’d help Hillary by granting clemency to the guys who blow up cops (what feeds some of the drama is that the FALNers were pretty piss-poor bombers and so there are a lot of heroic cops with missing limbs and eyes available to remind us of the kind of quality guys these FALNers really are).

But first he had to get the recommendations from several law-enforcement agencies. They studied the issue carefully, weighed the costs, reviewed the record, and then unanimously responded, in effect, “You must be higher than a moonbat! We have a place for people like Antonio Camacho-Negron; we call it prison!” The Bureau of Prisons even has phone tape-recordings of some of these guys planning more violence when they got out. So, using his finely honed moral calculus (can you hone a calculus?) he said “Let these people go!” (Of course, if he had taken a page from Moses and said “Let my people go!” a lot more people would be released from jail.)

Oddly enough, a number of people, thinking that the president is about as trustworthy as a 1970s Soviet-made pacemaker said, “Huh, that’s odd. President Clinton has received thousands upon thousands of requests for clemency. He’s granted four. And he wants to make these guys number five, even though they didn’t even ask for clemency in the first place. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that the Puerto Rican wing of the Democratic party in New York is over-populated with left-wing radicals and terrorist sympathizers? Could it possibly have something to do with the fact that his wife is running for Senator and will need the votes of 1.3 million Puerto Ricans?”

This interpretation went uncontested by the White House and at first Hillary proudly supported the offer of clemency. But lo and behold, those quirky and parochial New Yorkers didn’t really like the idea and some people pointed to the president’s inconvenient lip-biting zero tolerance on people-who-blow-us-up policy. Senator Moynihan, who defined deviancy down to the bone by endorsing Hillary’s run for the Senate, restored some of his luster by denouncing the clemency offer. Political pressure built as the ungrateful swine in prison whined that there were too many strings attached — like being forced to promise not to bomb anybody anymore. Finally, Hillary came out against her husband’s (Note to readers: It was when I was writing this sentence (not this one but the one before these parentheses thingies) that Senator Joe Biden walked by my seat on this train. He has very large teeth. Sorry, back to regularly scheduled bleating)

… finally, Hillary came out against her husband’s clemency offer, saying she hadn’t consulted with him about it beforehand and this is just another policy area where the two disagree. By the way, for some bizarre and inexplicable reason, the New York Times buys this as a straightforward explanation. This is the woman whose only claim to legitimacy is her intimate involvement in the president’s decision-making. And yet, on the issue of releasing a bunch of terrorists back onto the streets of New York, she’s out of the loop? What loop is she in that New Yorkers, liberal or otherwise, should be psyched about? “I was there when the president decided — with my advice — to have his motorcade take the Van Wyck Expressway instead of the BQE!” is not the sort of stump-speech line that gets them to the polls.

So now, here we are, somewhere in the middle of the second act. Hispanic politicians are furious at Hillary, threatening to stay mad at her for a while before they endorse her anyway. A dozen terrorists have accepted the deal. Their lawyer, however, not wanting to wait with the bridge and tunnel crowd on the line to Hell told the New York Post that she has sworn to keep fighting until the terrorists are “free on the street without conditions.”

Remember this is still unfolding. Right now, the story is more comic than tragic. If one of these evil bozos kills a cop, or blows up a bunch of kids in his effort to gain freedom for a nation that probably wishes he’d stay in jail, the comic will evaporate and all we’ll be left with will be the tragic. If that happens, there should be hell to pay and Bill and Hillary together should pay it in full.



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