- The Washington Times - Friday, September 22, 2000

What do they the White House mean when they say they will release the names of guests who have stayed at the White House and Camp David, but not the dates of those overnight visits? Such blatant imperiousness should jolt the fully enfranchised American out of his Dow-induced, home-entertainment-center-generated complacency to examine seriously the devolution of democracy in these increasingly monarchical Clinton-Gore years.

The question of White House overnights comes up again now that it has been revealed that the first lady may have been turning both the White House and Camp David into something of a bed-and-breakfast for political supporters and contributors to her novice political run. Not so, said Mrs. Clinton, when questioned at a diner in western New York last week. "We have friends and supporters come and spend time with us and spend the night with us that we are getting to know and who like spending time with us." Why, that sounds just like the Rodgers and Hammerstein song, "Getting to Know Donors." (Isn't that what it's called?) Of course, what Mrs. Clinton describes suggests the concept of so-called quality time. You know a few magical moments of Scrabble, talking-point-trivia, and s'mores in the fireplace of the Lincoln Bedroom.

In other words, a good time for all at 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue. Too bad Mrs. Clinton hasn't been there to share it. Or has she? Amid the most recent allegations of the Motel-Sixing of the president's residences have been reports that at times neither Clinton has been on hand even to play concierge for their guests. Such charges can only be laid to rest or confirmed by the release of the dates on which the visitors in question have spent the night. The administration's decree that such information will remain secret strongly suggests that there is something to hide: namely, that far from "getting to know" new "friends," Mrs. Clinton has been currying, or rewarding, political favor by treating the White House like an empty time-share for New York pols and moneybags.

Of course, the administration has lately refused to be forthcoming about more than just the White House guest book. As Mrs. Clinton runs up a travel tab that tops $1 million for the Air Force jets that shuttle her from husting to husting courtesy the American taxpayer it now seems that she may have been dispensing plane rides to political cronies along the way. Frequent Contributor Miles, anyone?

This charge could also be laid to rest or confirmed if the White House were to release the names of Mrs. Clinton's passengers. To date, it has refused with a rather autocratic abruptness. It is known that at least one key supporter, an upstate New York assemblyman named Michael Bragman, junketed with his wife and daughter on Mrs. Clinton's plane from Syracuse to D.C. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Clinton isn't talking. When asked about the matter by the Associated Press this week, Mrs. Clinton replied, "I'm just happy to be here talking about the issues." But not the issues at hand: the degradation of both the symbols of American democracy, and the way it is supposed to work.

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