Throwing elbows over Enron
1/21/2002 12:00:00 AM - Brent Bozell
Jan. 10 brought us the first hilarious liberal attempt to tie George W. Bush to the moral black hole of William Jefferson Clinton. With the opening of government investigations into the bankruptcy of Enron, the same people who would have thrown Arkansas farm products at anyone who would dare use the words "Bill Clinton's Watergate" are asking that we seriously consider the question: "Is this Dubya's Whitewater?"
Liberals all choked and coughed any time anyone would compare Whitewater to Watergate. Their boy genius just was not capable of any scandal that matched the political depravity of Tricky Dick. Though scandals looked like rats following the Pied Piper of Hamelin, to most in the press, they were all lies and nefarious plots hatched by "Clinton haters" who only wanted to "embarrass the president" and prevent him from his rightful place in the pantheon of presidential greatness.
But liberals have no problem comparing the runaway train of Clinton scandals to this phantom of McCain-Feingold fanatics. Simply connect Bush's hundreds of thousands of Enron contributions to Enron's ignominious demise, and voila, the president supports wiping out the savings of gullible Enron employees who were told their employers were a great investment.
Earth to the new scandalmongers: Bush and his team did absolutely nothing wrong in accepting the contributions, and nothing wrong thereafter. In fact, there is nothing to discuss because they did nothing at all. Just imagine for a moment what would be the media's reaction had the Bush administration agreed to intervene! Bush just can't win.
Implicit in all the "Bush's Whitewater" pleading is the notion that somehow the Clintons were plagued with snarling press watchdogs who tore apart their every move and now there must be parity. But this is myth.
When Whitewater broke in March of 1992, everyone left the story within weeks, and didn't return until the Clintonites creepily combed Vince Foster's office for documents after he was found dead in Fort Marcy Park. Their roughest Whitewater press emerged in March of 1994, and never regained intensity.
The most bizarre episode in this tale came in May of 1996, when Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and the Clintons' Whitewater business partners, Jim and Susan McDougal, were convicted of multiple felonies in the failure of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, which cost the taxpayers more than $60 million. The networks had no interest in covering the trial, then spent the first 48 hours after the guilty verdicts chanting that this in no way could be connected to the Clintons.
George W. Bush never sought out Enron lawyers for help in scoring on the energy market. But Hillary Clinton used Tyson chicken's counsel Jim Blair to reap $100,000 out of a $1,000 investment in a few weeks of cattle futures trading. When that story hit the newspapers on March 18, 1994, ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC aired just 18 stories on their evening newscasts in the first six weeks -- fewer than Enron got during the past week alone.
When Mrs. Clinton held a press conference to put the media to sleep on the cattle-futures beat, telling odd stories of picking cattle winners out of the Wall Street Journal, the media could only smile and salute the First Lady's forthrightness in supposedly setting the record straight. Tyson executives could have given her the money outright in small bills in a manila envelope in a TV studio, and the media would still have suggested that "Clinton haters" were trying to demean Arkansas and mommies who work as lawyers by even hinting that something disagreeable had happened.
Now those same reporters are predicting that Enron could cloud Bush's political picture. "Firm's Saga Could Dog Bush in Election Year," predicted the Washington Post, leaving out only the unnecessary addendum "Or So We Hope." The double standard is nauseating.
When it comes down to it, these hyperventilations about "Bush's Whitewater" are not only unfair because Bush had done nothing that the Clintons enjoyed doing regularly. It's unfair because the Bushies came to office by refusing to say anything about the sleazy Clintons except talk vaguely about "restoring honor and integrity to the White House." They were quiet little lambs when the House managers and Kenneth Starr could have used a few lions. It was a calculated strategy designed to avoid media brickbats. But will they be able to keep that game up when their own legacy is on the line? Stay tuned.