WASHINGTON, D.C. -- From his taxpayer-funded exile in Harlem,
William "The Zipper" Clinton lives the good life of a deposed monarch. His
wife has been installed in the U.S. Senate, his bagman, Terry McAuliffe,
runs the Democratic National Committee, and publishers proffer millions for
his memoirs chronicling conquests over a multitude of maidens. Hollywood
starlets and interns still coo his name. When not vowing to "fight and die"
for Israel (something he wouldn't do for America), he hints at playing the
Apollo. Meanwhile, the party he left behind must deal with his "no rules"
The decade of the 1990s and the "Clinton Economy," as the
adulterer's apologists liked to call it, was a massive house of cards. From
corruption in the White House and Wall Street fraud to phony Middle East
"peace accords," the unstated but guiding principles of the Clinton Era were
that truth didn't matter, wealth needn't be earned and national security
wasn't important. What Bill and Hillary didn't take from the White House,
they sold: the Lincoln Bedroom, missile secrets, presidential pardons and
everything in between.
Perhaps most disturbing, the Clintons sought to smear and
destroy those who tried to tell the truth about their abuses. FBI files were
purloined and perused, and IRS audits were ordered, while Hillary hissed
about a "vast right-wing conspiracy" and Bill blamed conservatives for the
Oklahoma City bombing. Meanwhile, real terrorist networks flourished in the
Unfortunately, the "no rules" era Bill Clinton brought to
Washington didn't depart with him. Far too many of today's Democrats learned
far too much from their lip-biting, finger-pointing, tutor.
Protege-in-waiting, Al Gore, has forsaken conventional canons
about political differences stopping at the water's edge and launched a
vicious attack on President Bush for the way he is prosecuting the war on
terror. In a trip worthy of Jane Fonda's Hanoi visit during the Vietnam War,
Democrat Reps. David Bonior of Michigan, Jim McDermott of Washington, Mike
Thompson of California and Nick Rahall of West Virginia -- who should all
seriously consider changing their political affiliation to the Ba'th
Party -- trekked to Baghdad to kiss Saddam Hussein's ring while American
pilots maneuvered to avoid Iraqi missiles. Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., threw a
hissy fit on the Senate floor, politicizing the war against terrorism. And
Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., launched his own rhetorical harpoon at the
commander in chief after receiving guidance from the Democrat's dancing diva
of diplomacy, Barbra Streisand. Not content with simply skewering President
Bush, Babs also tortured the English language and the works of William
Thankfully, out in the heartland, Americans aren't buying it
anymore. Earlier this year, pollster Stuart Rothenberg called the group of
former high-level Clintonistas seeking office this year the "Big Six." But
now, with a month before election, the Big Six are falling like dominoes.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo quit
the Democratic gubernatorial primary in New York when he couldn't close a
20-point gap with his opponent. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich failed
in his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nod in Massachusetts. Janet Reno
was knocked out of the Florida gubernatorial race by a little-known
Democratic rival. Former Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, running against
Elizabeth Dole for North Carolina's open Senate seat, lags in the polls, and
former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson is locked in a tight gubernatorial
race in New Mexico, a state President Bush narrowly lost in 2000. Only
former White House advisor Rahm Emanuel is favored to win a Chicago-area
congressional seat where Democrats reign like the old Soviet Politburo.
That doesn't mean that the "no rules" crowd of Clinton cronies
has given up. When Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., abruptly dropped his
faltering re-election bid last week, New Jersey Democrats ignored a state
law requiring withdrawal at least 51 days before the election and installed
former Sen. Frank Lautenberg in his stead. Torricelli, mired in scandal, now
faces a re-opened federal criminal investigation.
And who is his role model? At his surreal swan song, Torricelli
apologized "to Bill Clinton that I did not have his strength" to defy the
law and public opinion. He'll be lucky to join Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif.,
in retirement, instead of living with ex-Rep. James Traficant of Ohio in
And the list goes on. In California, Democrat Gov. Gray Davis
continues to test the outer-limits of "no-rules" political fund raising.
Last February, he shocked members of the California Teachers Association by
asking for a $1 million contribution in the middle of a policy discussion
about education. A month later he tried to shake down UC Berkeley students
for $100 each to have photos taken with him.
In Iowa, a former aide to Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin secretly
recorded a strategy briefing of his Republican opponent, Rep. Greg Ganske.
After initially denying involvement, Harkin's campaign fired two staffers,
including the campaign manager. And in Maryland, Democrat Kathleen Kennedy
Townsend has equated her Republican gubernatorial opponent Rep. Bob
Ehrlich's opposition to race-based hiring quotas with support for slavery,
lynching and Jim Crow laws.
Next month's election isn't just a test over which party will
better "manage the economy" or "protect U.S. national security." It's also a
chance to decide whether Americans really want to continue the "no rules"
legacy of the last administration. From what I've seen traveling around the
country, the Clinton era is finally over.