The key phrase in Independent Counsel Robert Ray's conclusion about the myriad accusations of wrongdoing by Bill and Hillary Clinton -- from their years in Arkansas to their years in Washington -- is that "the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury that they had committed any crime."
This is far from exoneration. This is a tribute (depending on the meaning one wishes to give the word) to perhaps the most successful, widespread coverup in our history. It worked because -- unlike the Watergate coverup, which fell apart once the conspirators got cold feet and started copping pleas -- not a single Clinton co-conspirator ratted.
Unbelievably, Susan McDougal and Webster Hubbell were willing to go to jail for the Clintons, though they received little in return for their misplaced loyalty. Richard Nixon's mistake was that he had some people on his staff who either had a conscience buried beneath their lawbreaking exteriors or were pragmatic enough to throw the president to the legal wolves in hopes of saving their own skin. Clinton made sure he hired people who shared his amorality or destroyed the few who threatened to expose him as a crook and a sexual harasser.
Ray noted a number of factors that might have prevented his office from winning a conviction against the Clintons, including the jury pool in Washington, D.C., which would have been composed largely of government workers and minorities, many of whom might be considered predisposed to think well of the Clintons, regardless of facts presented against the couple. It would have been the political version of the O.J. Simpson trial. Not many believe the "real killer" of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman has yet to be identified. Honest Democrats with whom I've spoken don't believe the Clintons are virginal when it comes to lawbreaking.
A New York Times editorial properly faulted the Clintons for dragging out the investigation and escalating its cost to the taxpayers: "From the day that questions were first raised about (the Clintons') relationship to Madison Guaranty, an Arkansas savings and loan that went bust at a cost of more than $70 million to the American taxpayers, they and their political confederates in the White House and the executive branch went to puzzling lengths to hobble legitimate investigations. Instead of candidly laying out the facts of the matter, the Clinton apparatus instead stonewalled the investigators and defamed the Clintons' critics. All this gave rise to suspicions that the Clintons had something to hide and prolonged the investigation."
The Times is an unindicted co-conspirator in this because it twice endorsed Clinton-Gore when it could have backed President George Bush and Bob Dole, two men with higher principles and integrity. And what's this about "puzzling lengths"? What's puzzling about someone whose moral compass points to his groin and whose oath of office should have been taken on Hustler magazine, not the Bible?
The Wall Street Journal, which has performed a public service by making seven years of stories, editorials and columns on this administration's wrongdoing available in several bound volumes, properly characterized the plot of this sordid immorality play: "shady statements, slick lawyering, witness intimidation and rhetorical assaults on public servants." The key players, said the editorial, "either kept quiet or were completely discredited by a brutal White House attack machine."
One of many reasons change is needed in Washington is so that all of the evidence shut up inside the "in-Justice Department" that has managed to escape the shredder and the burn bag might see the light of day. Does anyone seriously believe that if Al Gore is elected president, the public will ever learn the whole truth about this administration's political rape of our government?
If the courts are unable to serve justice in this case, the court of public opinion should. But it cannot fully do so unless the coverup is uncovered and the stonewall is torn down. That will take a new president and a new attorney general not beholden to Bill Clinton, Al Gore and the Democratic Party.
Los Angeles Times Syndicate