- The Washington Times - Friday, February 2, 2001

One of the more noteworthy effects of Bill Clinton's grubby, larcenous, and practically locust-like exit from office that pomp-clinging, furniture-pinching, pardons-for-crooks-dispensing, office-ransacking, Air-Force-One-stripping processional into private life has been to ignite a white-hot outrage on the part of many of the former president's to-the-death defenders in the media. Clinton-o-phile talking heads, who for eight years were at-the-ready to spin themselves into contortions of logic from which they still haven't unraveled, now find themselves in a righteous funk over Mr. Clinton's pardon racket er, procedures.

Columnists and editorial writers who once programmed their laptops to spew out the words "doesn't rise to the level of impeachment" with a single keystroke are now in a froth over the almost $200,000 worth of gifts the Clintons carted away from the White House to houses in Chappaqua and on Embassy Row. It's not that these scribes and commentators aren't perfectly correct in their fits of pique. You might even say, to take a line from John Wayne, they look beautiful in their wrath. But talk about too little too late.

For example, in its first editorial on the last-hours pardons, the New York Times used the words, "indefensible," "shocking," and "distinct taint." The Washington Post chose "unpardonable," "indefensible" and "tawdry conduct." The New York Times went on to assert that "Mr. Clinton's irresponsible use of his pardoning authority has undermined the pursuit of justice." We could mention one or two (or 200) other instances in which Mr. Clinton irresponsibly "undermined the pursuit of justice" from lying under oath to coaching government witnesses that somehow failed to arouse a similar degree of ire.

While we like a good Clinton-inspired sputtering as much as the next member of the vast, right-wing conspiracy, it's worth noting that once upon a time such uninhibited resentment on the part of the media elite might actually have meant something. Back in the "embarrassing" days of impeachment, or the "shabby" days of the Reno Justice Department's execution of White House political bidding, or the "tawdry" days of selling White House access to all bidders, from hustlers to Chinese intelligence, a little nice, sustained, high dudgeon might have brought those bad old days more quickly to a close.

With respect to Mr. Clinton's most controversial pardon, that of fugitive financier Marc Rich, it "was a shocking abuse of presidential power," explained the New York Times editorial page, "and a reminder of why George W. Bush's vow to restore honor and dignity to the Oval Office resonates with millions of Americans who otherwise disagree with the new president's politics." No doubt this came as news to readers of the New York Times (some of whom may have required smelling salts in order to read on). We, of course, couldn't agree more. In fact, if this is what they mean by bipartisanship, it's OK with us.

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