The collapse of communism presented America with an opportunity. Unfortunately, by 1998 our inattention had left us adrift. Financial crises were shaking the new Russian Republic. Yugoslavia was continuing its bloody disintegration. Framed by these daunting challenges, The Leader of the Free World took the podium beside the inspirational and iconic Czech President, Vaclav Havel, to take control of the narrative.
That plan didn’t survive three minutes. Once the preliminaries were out of the way, the press began to explore the most pressing question in the room – could President Clinton still lead the country. At this moment when the world looked to its lone superpower for a path toward a new global order, that superpower was otherwise engaged, hopelessly distracted by the sordid politics of a banana republic.
By the summer of 1998, the Clinton Administration had lost its capacity to govern. President Clinton, the Bill Cosby of politics, had sexually harassed one woman too many. In an effort to conceal a mind-bogglingly stupid tryst with a subordinate less than half his age, Clinton had perjured himself in a deposition. That deposition had risen from yet another episode of workplace harassment. For the final three years of his Administration, Bill Clinton was little more than a professional defendant. The Clinton Administration devolved into a drama that could have been co-written by Mike Judge and William Faulkner.
There was no reason for the country to be hostage to Clinton’s demons. A capable Vice-President could have stepped up at any moment to take charge without compromising any of the Administration’s political goals. There is no evidence that Bill or Hillary Clinton ever considered putting the needs of the country above their own vaulting ambitions. America would continue on auto-pilot while the Clintons borrowed its resources to protect and promote themselves. Hillary Clinton, “feminist” and “advocate for women’s rights” stood shoulder to shoulder with her husband the serial harasser in defense of nothing more noble than her own ambitions.
Bill and Hillary Clinton’s decision to insulate themselves from the consequences of his actions put the 2000 Democratic nominee in a nearly impossible situation. Their choices practically handed that race to one of the most catastrophically inept men ever to hold the office.
For all they took from the country, for all they dragged us through, the Clintons have never yet expressed any sentiment on the matter beyond their own narcissistic sense of persecution. To this day, we are all supposed to pretend that they were the victims.
I was disgusted by the Clintons for their blithe willingness to place ambition ahead of duty. I have despised them for their smug, self-serving politics, smothered beneath a treacly, sanctimonious veneer. Through naked self-interest and shameless abuse of power they have managed to convert a string of government jobs in to a nine-figure fortune.
After years of loathing, I am about to cast a vote to send a Clinton to the White House. Not only will I be voting for Hillary Clinton, I will do it in gratitude for her leadership. A Clinton is now all that stands between the country I love and a dangerous megalomaniac nominated by my former partisans. I am counting on Hillary Clinton to save us all.
As the sickness in the Republican Party has deepened, we can look back and see a far more complex moral portrait of the Clinton Administration. Clinton was not unique in his actions or attitudes. The stunningly hypocritical, self-serving, partisan prosecution of the President by ambitious Congressmen did more harm to the country than Bill Clinton’s abuses.
While Clinton was on trial for lying about employee sexual harassment, Republican Congressman pressing for his impeachment included the following seedy creeps:
While Gingrich was orchestrating Clinton’s impeachment he was cheating on his cancer-stricken wife with a pretty, young Congressional staffer. He later divorced his wife and married the object of his affair. Among the endlessly clanging ironies of their skeevy existence, the two of them now make a handsome living producing documentaries and children’s books (!!!) about character.
Gingrich hasn’t been as financially successful as the Clinton’s but not because scruples have stood in his way. He performed lobbying for Freddie Mac in the run-up to the financial crisis and built a dubious “think tank” that covered many of his expenses. He now has a (reported) net worth in excess of $6m.
When Gingrich’s scandals forced him to step down in the middle of the impeachment campaign, Livingston tried to succeed him. He failed after his own extra-marital affairs were exposed. On his resignation, he was succeeded by hard-core Christian Conservative David Vitter, who would later be exposed for his relationships with prostitutes. Livingston now enjoys a successful career as a lobbyist.
One of Mark Foley’s signature issues in office, apart from the Clinton prosecution, was an effort to ban the commercial photography of children. He claimed that child modeling was little more than “a fix for pedophiles.” Perhaps instead of mocking his bizarre fixation we should have taken more seriously the man’s veiled cry for help.
Foley would resign over his sexual harassment of male, teenaged Congressional pages. He had been asking them for explicit photos in online chat sessions. He would go on to open a charming consignment shop in West Palm Beach while building a successful lobbying career.
After his years of noisy anti-Clinton, anti-gay, “pro-family” grandstanding, Rep. Craig would be arrested for soliciting gay sex in the Minneapolis airport bathroom. He refused to resign his Senate seat after his arrest and subsequent guilty plea were made public. In a now-legendary interview with Matt Lauer Senator Craig awkwardly denied the gayness while Lauer ran through a laundry list of previous accusations. Craig’s wife managed to hold a tense smile through the whole, super-hetero exercise.
Here’s what Larry Craig had to say about Bill Clinton in 1999. Let me emphasize that this is not satire and I am not making this up: “The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy – a naughty boy. I’m going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy.” Oh, that nasty, naughty boy…
Craig is now a lobbyist for the coal industry.
Rep. Fossella had this to say about his vote for the Clinton Impeachment, “People are so turned off, so disgusted, so nervous about their children reading or learning about this salacious stuff that they may want it over and done with and fast.”
Fossella, who reportedly refuses to attend family events if they involve his gay sister, has a child through an adulterous relationship. It is likely no one would have discovered the relationship if Fossella hadn’t been arrest for DUI. Again, I’m not making this up, his DUI followed his attendance that day of a welcome ceremony for the Irish Prime Minister. Seriously.
And of course, Fossella now enjoys a successful lobbying career.
Do you like wrestling? Maybe you do, but I bet you don’t like wrestling as much as former Republican Speaker of the House Denny Hastert does!
While voting to impeach Bill Clinton, Hastert was working to conceal evidence that he had raped boys he had coached on his wrestling team. Over the years he spent almost a million dollars in hush money to keep the allegations quiet. His actions only surfaced after financial irregularities related to the payments were discovered. A substantial portion of his legal defense was paid with funds from a PAC he had established.
Hastert of course, was a successful lobbyist. And a serial child molester. Now he is in prison.
As the Special Prosecutor assigned to harry the Clinton Administration, Starr was relentless in pursuit of allegations against the President. On the narrowest of legal grounds he pressed the country into a Constitutional crisis over claims that Bill Clinton was covering up infidelity.
Over time he seems to have mellowed on the subject of sexual misconduct and even rape. In 2010 he became President of Baylor University and launched an aggressive campaign to build a lucrative football powerhouse. When students who had been raped by Baylor football players appealed to the school for help, their accusations were suppressed, investigations were mishandled, and the school aggressively protected its prized football program.
When victims began to press the matter Waco police moved into action and the cases were pursued. Two players in question are now serving prison sentences for rape. A damning independent investigation solicited by the school led to Starr’s resignation and the firing of the football coach.
As recently as June, Starr described the coach as “an iconic father figure who is a genius.” After all, nothing says “father figure” like helping to cover up a young man’s rapes.
Starr reportedly plans to continue his spirited legal activism in support of religious liberty.
There is not enough room in a blog post to reference all of the affairs, out of wedlock children, arrests, convictions, and other shenanigans of the Republican Congressmen who rode their high horses into battle against the Clintons. Names include Henry Hyde, Dan Burton, Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Strom Thurmond, Pete Dominici, Helen Chenowith and on and on and on. In case you’re wondering, almost all of them who are still alive and not in prison are now successful lobbyists.
If anything at all distinguishes Bill Clinton from his prosecutors, it’s their hypocrisy and the Clintons’ subsequent record of service. Fast forward twenty years and the Clintons have existed under almost universal public scrutiny without a single subsequent instance of wrongdoing. Hillary Clinton has had years of her email communications turned over to her frothing enemies on Capitol Hill and they uncovered nothing worth pursuing.
Would I and other Americans prefer to see a man or woman of untarnished character in the White House? Absolutely, but we aren’t going to get that opportunity in 2016. And on a more unsettling note, we’ve had almost sixteen years under the leadership of Presidents who were paragons of personal virtue and family values. On further reflection that kind of moral character, as a qualification for running the free world, might be just a bit over-rated.
Having mercilessly derided the Clintons for decades, I am now counting on one of them to rescue America. While many of Clinton’s prosecutors have ended their careers in disgrace, Hillary Clinton is on her way to the highest office in the land. If she can defend us as doggedly and capably as she defended her husband and herself, we will all be in very good capable hands.
Karma is a bitch…in a pantsuit.