I was looking over a daily almanac and saw that Vincent Foster would have been 64 years old today. In the 1990s, I spent a lot of time covering his death, beginning with trip to Fort Marcy Park the morning after his body was discovered. From the very beginning, I felt confident it was a suicide, something I think was conclusively proven by Kenneth Starr’s 1997 report.
Like most suicides, there were a lot of factors involved. But there’s no doubt that Foster was deeply distraught over the Travelgate scandal. He believed — correctly — that it would result in several investigations. He was worried about his reputation. He was under a lot of pressure from then-First Lady Hillary Clinton.
The Travel Office affair was a serious matter, one that warranted serious investigation and one that should have resulted in people in the Clinton administration losing their jobs. It was an outrage that Billy Dale, the longtime Travel Office head, was prosecuted. (He was almost instantly acquitted.) But Foster’s suicide put it all in a pretty terrible perspective.
And even though the scandal went on for quite a while, it seems very long ago now, especially when you look at all the Clinton types who are playing enormously important roles in today’s affairs. Hillary Clinton — who the independent counsel concluded gave “factually false” testimony on the Travel Office firings — is going to become Secretary of State. Her husband is an international statesman. John Podesta runs an influential think tank and has orchestrated the Obama transition. George Stephanopoulos is sitting in David Brinkley’s chair at ABC News. And Vince Foster has been dead for 15 years. Make of it what you will.