The Clintons and selective media outrage

Posted: Feb 14, 2001 12:00 AM
In the last few days I've heard it asked repeatedly, "Why is the media finally turning on Bill Clinton?" Wrong question. The question that demands an answer is, "Why is Hillary still getting a pass?" When you frame the question this way, the answer becomes all too obvious. Friends of Bill and Hillary have temporarily dropped him because he isn't immediately useful to their cause anymore. Not so with Sen. Hillary. She's not only an important senator, she represents hope: a glorious restoration of the Clinton years when she decides to take the presidential plunge. Hillary deserves serious scrutiny, too, for many of the couple's shenanigans in the final weeks of Bill's term. She was every bit as involved as he was in pilfering White House property, a process we now know began about a year ago, as she directed that certain gifts be surreptitiously delivered to their home in Chappaqua. She was also apparently instrumental in some of the improper pardons. But she's been involved in their partnership of crime since the beginning, and intellectually honest people know it and admit it. Instead of being treated as a coconspirator, she's benefited from feigned victimhood as the aggrieved spouse. In a twisted way it could almost be argued that Bill's peccadilloes have been a net asset for the Clintons' mutual power-driven career. It certainly provided a convenient diversion for Bill. Nonsense, say the Clintonoids. This was never about anything but sex, er, um, except it wasn't sex. That's my point. They've been able to confuse all the scandals into one big amorphous sexual illusion. Was Waco about sex? Elian? Chinagate? Whitewater? Filegate? Travelgate? Mark Rich-Pardongate? OK, you may have a point there. Back to the subject at hand. Isn't it hard to endure the likes of columnist E.J. Dionne registering outrage at some of Clinton's final acts when they were so conspicuously silent throughout his scandal-ridden years? In fact, as much as I've criticized Bill Clinton over the years for his pathological dishonesty and misconduct, I have always been more troubled by his defenders. His colleagues in the Democratic Party, his supporters in the media and far too many of his rank-and-file constituencies arguably have done more damage to this nation by defending the indefensible than Clinton did himself. I'm not exaggerating. This nation can more easily absorb one president's misconduct than it can the strains on our system and society caused by blind defenders of that misconduct. But for his defenders and those otherwise lacking the courage to bring him to account, Clinton would have been stopped long ago. That's why I have no sympathy for those in the media who are beginning to express their indignation about eight years too late. Clinton's left-wing critics are coming out of the woodwork now, expressing outrage at his last-minute pardons, his tawdry refusal to allow George Bush the limelight on Inaugural Day and his sub-white-trash conversion of public property during the past year. They have got to be kidding us, right? What did they expect from a de facto adolescent who never had to pay for his wrongdoing in office? Did they expect him to ride gracefully into the sunset as a senior statesman? This man has been dangerously indulged for years, and now we are to assume he will behave? Did you catch his speech in Florida on Middle East peace the other night? Did you hear this irrepressible ego "beam" a message to the Palestinians? Clinton enablers have been placing square pegs into round holes for most of his two terms. Perhaps they calculated that their principles were worth sacrificing for the larger cause of keeping him in power and on message. Some say they are now just exacting a little belated revenge. I don't think so. I think they're just blowing a little irrelevant smoke toward Bill Clinton because they don't need him anymore. So the real story here is media hypocrisy, not just in the past tense, but as an ongoing force that continues to insulate Hillary under its protective wing. Thankfully, neither the media nor Clinton's internal propaganda machine are omnipotent. Despite their Herculean efforts, they will ultimately fail to rescue Bill or Hillary from history's harsh judgment. Indeed, if justice prevails, these stalwart Clinton defenders will also receive history's round condemnation.