- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2000

There is good news for those of us who see the world as it is and hope our fellow Americans will too. I have in mind those of us who see our neighbor's household pet and recognize it as a dog, not a potential beneficiary of the Bill of Rights and an eventual naturalized citizen of the United States. We see spring showers and avail ourselves of an umbrella rather than a bomb shelter. We see prosecutors pursing a crooked politician and recognize the workings of the American legal system, not the intrigues of a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

The good news this week is that Susan Schmidt and Michael Weisskopf's book, "Truth at Any Cost: Ken Starr and the Unmaking of Bill Clinton," has just arrived in bookstores. A disciplined account of Ken Starr's investigation of Whitewater and all the attendant Clinton scandals that followed, "Truth at Any Cost" sees the independent counsel's investigation of President Clinton as it is. It is not, as Clinton diehards spin it, a "coup d'etat" or a "conspiracy." Such hyperbolic squawks are examples of what the eminent American historian Richard Hofstadter termed "the paranoid style in American politics." Rather, Mr. Starr's work has been the orderly procedures of a duly constituted prosecutor pursing the irregularities of a politician who clearly and repeatedly has lied under oath and obstructed justice.

There is nothing particularly unusual or villainous here. Politicians lie all the time. Some the most reckless lie under oath. To those of us who see the world as it is, Mr. Clinton is what he has been since we began viewing him sometime around 1991 to wit, a rogue who puts himself above the law. He is, as a now famous judge described him after seeing him as he is even under oath. According to Judge Susan Webber Wright, "The president responded to plaintiff's questions by giving false, misleading, and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process." And she cited him for contempt of court.

Through all the years of Clinton scandals, the Clintons and their apologists have tried to hornswoggle the public into seeing things as they are not. They have insisted Mr. Clinton is a public servant cruelly beset by "scandalmongers," though they offer no explanation why he attracts these swarms of "scandalmongers" while previous presidents have remained comparatively scandalmonger-free. They say that except for a regrettable libidinal lapse with the callipygian Monica he has led a morally irreproachable life in the White House, though they cannot explain why during his years as Arkansas' chief executive officer he was accused of precisely the same kind of misbehavior that put him on the road to impeachment in Washington. They say his critics are not critics, but "Clinton haters."

Even I have been called a Clinton hater. Just the other day after an interview with what seemed to be an objective and equable journalist from a moderately liberal magazine, the interviewer actually described me as the "premier Clinton hater." She went on to call my magazine "the ultraconservative American Spectator." For whatever reason, there are large numbers of people in and around politics who cannot see the world as it is. The American Spectator is no more "ultraconservative" than my interviewer's magazine, the New Republic, is "ultraliberal." "Ultras" are farther to the right and to the left. To think otherwise is to think any magazine with a point of view is extremist. Such thinking is not quite adult, or at least not very cosmopolitan.

On both counts I believe my interviewer innocent. She is merely another casualty of the Clinton campaign to depict any critic as a fanatic. After all, can you think of any critic of the Clintons, no matter how temperate, with whom the Clintons respectfully disagree? Is there any Clinton critic or for that matter any Clinton victim who is not a "Clinton hater"? I specifically informed my sunny interviewer when she called that I am not a "Clinton hater." I am a Clinton chuckler. Rather than hating Mr. Clinton, I have been laughing ever since, early in his revels, it struck me that he and his bossy wife are the 1990s incarnations of Mr. and Mrs. Warren G. Harding of Marion, Ohio. Surviving Hardings are free to object, but please do not call me a Harding hater.

Of course I exaggerate, but I do so to amuse. When the Clintons and their apologists do so with hyperbolic references to conspirators and haters, they do so to confuse the public and to smear their opponents. That is why the arrival of Miss Schmidt and Mr. Weisskopf's "Truth at Any Cost" is so welcome. Cleanly written, lucidly reported, "Truth at Any Cost" disinters the facts of the Starr investigation from the bovine fertilizer. It is a very good read for those who desire to see the world as it is.



R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator.

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