Parting Gifts

If you are the kind of person who enjoys waxing indignant about corrupt behavior or shamelessness, Bill Clinton is certainly the gift that keeps on giving. For most, Clinton is like the recalcitrant party guest who is oblivious to hints and insists on staying a little longer than welcome. In the case of the transition of presidential power between Clinton and George W. Bush, Clinton is more like the party guest who not only outstays his welcome, but also feels entitled to depart with a few souvenirs.

Consider the last few weeks:

  • Clinton entered a deal with Special Prosecutor Robert Ray to avoid prosecution. He admitted to knowingly giving false testimony. Within hours his spin meisters were claiming that Clinton did not really admit to lying.
  • Federal law prohibits executive branch officials from lobbying their agencies for one year after leaving office. When Clinton came into office in 1992, he extended this period to five years by executive order. This provided two benefits. He kept former Bush officials from lobbying and secured the moral high ground. Now at the end of his term, Clinton rescinded the order, allowing former Clinton officials to engage in the same lobbying he prohibited to ex-Bush officials.
  • On George W. Bush’s Inauguration Day, Clinton tried to steal reflected limelight and bask in the trappings of office a little longer by giving two televised farewell speeches, one in Washington and one in New York. He also arranged for a Saturday radio address on Inauguration Day. This behavior is the moral equivalent of grasping onto the White House door as Constitutional circumstances pulled him away.
  • In his last night in office, Clinton issued a blizzard of pardons and clemencies, a third of which had never been formally reviewed by the Justice Department. The pardons included Marc Rich, a multi-millionaire who is accused of conspiracy, tax evasion and racketeering and even trading with Iran while they were holding US citizens as hostages in the late 1970s. Rather than face charges in court, Rich fled and has spent the years in luxury in Switzerland. The pardon has been criticized even by Clinton supporters, especially since it appears the pardon may have been a repayment for $1.1 million in donations to the Democratic Party by Rich’s ex-wife in the United States.
  • Four Hasidic Jews were convicted of cheating the federal government of $40 million. The usually conservative Hasidic vote in Rockland County, the home of the convicts, voted nearly unanimously for Hillary Clinton in her successful run for Senate, after which the pardons were issued.
  • In the last week, it has become apparent that the Clintons have ridden into the sunset with nearly $200,000 in house furnishings, china, and flatware donated to the Clintons in the last year. People knew what items to contribute because the Clintons registered what they needed. The booty even includes some furnishings donated by the Richs.

Clinton is not directly responsible for those who serve him, but his example cannot help but be noticed by those who look to him for leadership. The new President Bush dispatched the jet normally used as Air Force One to ferry Clinton and his party to New York. According to yet to be confirmed reports, this graciousness was repaid by members of the Clinton party with the petty theft of items from saltshakers to china marked with the presidential seal. In the offices of the Executive Office Building, ex-staffers engaged in everything from the charming prank of removing W‘s from computer keyboards to apparent vandalism.

The actions of Clinton and his minions over the last week are perhaps unintentionally the best gifts that could have been presented to George W. Bush in his first week as President. In the immediate juxtaposition of the comportment of Clinton and Bush, Bush’s star rises. Clinton’s tawdry behavior made it seem that this last week a mature adult was taking over the presidency from a clever, but narcissistic adolescent. As people remember what it is like to have a President whose character one can respect, they will wonder why they were ever satisfied with less.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.