- The Washington Times - Friday, December 31, 1999

''Did they forget?" This question was House Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton's response to recent revelations that the FBI, when conducting its investigations, did not ask President Clinton and Vice President Gore about their relationships with John Huang and Charles Yah Lin Trie Democratic Party fund-raisers who funneled millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions into Clinton's re-election.

The astounding revelation that the FBI had failed again to do its job in order to protect Mr. Clinton was crowded out of the news by Monica Lewinsky's whining in Howard County, Md., Circuit Court on Dec. 16 that she was "terrified" when she learned Linda Tripp had tapes that proved she and President Clinton were perjurers.

Had Monica only known how justice works in the Clinton era, she would have been as smug as the object of her sexual attentions. She and Bill lied under oath, but it is Linda Tripp, a federal witness given immunity in exchange for her evidence, whom Democrats will put on trial for violating Maryland state wiretapping laws.

For Democrats, law has no independent function. It is merely a tool for protecting the party's interest and punishing enemies.

The question is: Why do the public and the Republican Party put up with it? Attorney General Janet Reno stonewalled demands for a special prosecutor to investigate the campaign-finance scandal, promising a Justice Department investigation instead.

Most people knew Miss Reno's "investigation" would be a cover-up, but the public and the Republicans went along with it.

The public might think "it's all just politics," but Republicans must know they are acquiescing to a double standard. Why?

The answer is that Republicans are afraid of the women's vote. Janet Reno is "The First Female" Attorney General, and Republicans are convinced they cannot hold Miss Reno accountable without enraging female voters.

This doesn't say much for Republicans, but it says even less for American women. Putting gender loyalty above respect for the law is no different from Democrats putting party loyalty above the law.

What kind of country have we become when gender interests and party interests are more important than the rule of law?

Is the United States capable of being a global leader when its citizens and highest officials make it clear there is no connection between integrity and self-esteem?

Why should other countries look up to the United States when one political party is crooked and the other is too cowardly to do anything about it?

The Wall Street Journal recently editorialized against national sovereignty because it permits "a tyrant like Slobodan Milosevic" to "claim sovereign authority over each breath drawn by those inside his borders." This was the justification for bombing Serbia. But how is putting ethnic interests first any more heinous than putting gender or party interests first? Who can we rely on to bomb Washington when Janet Reno turns the Justice Department into a Clinton-Gore protection apparatus?

Who is going to rule "the global community" that the Wall Street Journal thinks will replace national sovereignty? What system of law will govern the community?

The rule of law is a human achievement that took centuries of struggle. If it no longer commands allegiance in the United States, don't expect to find it as the basis of a global order.

As the 21st century begins, American dominance is threatened from within. A common interest in the rule of law is being undermined by demands for exceptions and exemptions: Quotas for preferred groups and a lack of accountability for victims' groups erode the evenhandedness of law, while demonization of "hegemonic" groups (white males, heterosexuals, Republicans) gives rise to new offenses known as hate crimes that can only be committed by members of demonized groups.

"Deep throat" can rat on President Nixon, and his identity is still a secret a quarter-century later. Linda Tripp turns over evidence against Mr. Clinton and is put on trial.

Formerly, citizens had equal standing in the law. Today standing can be greater or less depending on whether one's group has acquired preferred or demonized status in the propaganda wars.

This balkanization of the rule of law diminishes the United States and leaves the world without a foundation for a global community.

Paul Craig Roberts is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.

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