- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 24, 2004

Pondering the Clintons’ many scrapes with the law and with public convention over the last dozen years of the Clinton Glory, we can ascertain one weird quirk shared by both eminences that explains their unprecedented string of scandals.

Having reviewed both their autobiographies, I see this one weird quirk standing out ever more starkly. The Clintons land in the soup most frequently because they lie when they do not have to, and they tell a whopper when a little white lie would be perfectly understandable. Whether this gratuitous mendacity is a profound moral defect, I leave to the theologians. What is unconscionable and cruelly exploitive is that after being caught in their lies so many times they continue manipulating the passions of the more gullible sort of Democrat who has joined the Clintons in transforming their soap opera into one of the Democratic Party’s national issues.

Rather than “move on,” as the phrase had it back in 2000, the Clintons’ exploited dupes now devote their time to the Clinton cult rather than to fighting for preferred Democratic policies and untainted Democratic candidates.

In their autobiographies, Bill and Hillary Clinton may have had to skirt the truth occasionally — many lifelong politicians do. But they often tell lies that did not have to be repeated, many of which have clearly been refuted by subsequent legal proceedings and by scholarly or journalistic research.

In her autobiography, “Living History,” Hillary need not have lied all over again about when she first heard of her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. Clearly she knew early on.

Nor did she have to dismiss Gennifer Flowers’ longstanding affair with her husband in Arkansas as a “whale of a tale.” Her continuing lies about her role in firing White House travel agents are equally gratuitous and reckless. She had done nothing worth lying about in any of these instances.

In “My Life,” Bill Clinton claims to be morally healed. He claims he is making a clean breast of things. But he goes on to insist Independent Counsel Ken Starr was guilty of leaking information against him. In every alleged leak investigated by the courts and by journalists, Mr. Starr has been exonerated. Mr. Clinton’s lies are easily refuted, but he doggedly tells them anyway. Mr. Starr cannot comment, but his aides ought to.

At times, “My Life” is written at the level of John Birch Society propaganda, and I mean no discourtesy to the Society if it still exists. Mr. Clinton practices what historian Richard Hofstadter called “the paranoid style in American politics.” It once was characteristic of the far right. Now it is practiced by adepts close to the Democratic Party center. That is not a sign of political vitality.

I cannot begin to expose all the lies — many, as I say, gratuitous — in this, the most trivial presidential memoir ever written; but I can expose those made about the American Spectator, a magazine the Clintons place at the center of their imagined “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.”

On Page 711, Mr. Clinton says the trial of his old business partners, the McDougals, was somehow prejudiced by “the money and support Hale [David Hale, chief witness against the McDougals] had been receiving from a clandestine effort” at the American Spectator. Mr. Clinton’s Justice Department first brought this charge of “money and support” (that is, witness tampering) against us back in 1998, and the consequence was to nearly put us out of business — though ho, ho, ho, here we stand exonerated, Purple Hearts and all.

After a year of fully cooperating with the government inquiry, I could savor — as can any fair-minded American — the final judgment of the grand jury’s investigation of the Spectator. Encapsulated in the independent counsel’s press release, it reads: “After conducting an independent investigation into allegations David Hale may have received payments to influence his testimony in matters within the jurisdiction of the Office of the Independent Counsel (OIC), the Office of Special Review has concluded that ‘many of the allegations, suggestions and insinuations regarding the tendering and receipt of things of value were shown to be unsubstantiated or, in some cases, untrue.’ ” Further, the Office of Special Review concluded: “In some instances, there is little if any credible evidence establishing that a particular thing of value was demanded, offered or received. In other instances, there is insufficient credible evidence to show that a thing of value was provided or received with the criminal intent defined by any of the applicable statues.”

Nonetheless, despite this rigorous government investigation of the trumped-up charge, Mr. Clinton continues to lie that a witness received “money and support” from us. A paragraph later he lies that the magazine paid “a former state trooper $10,000 for the ridiculous yarn accusing me of drug smuggling.” No Spectator article ever accused Mr. Clinton of drug smuggling. Mr. Clinton has claimed this before, but anyone with eyes to read magazine back issues will perceive the lie.

Nor did the magazine pay a trooper for such an article.

Mr. Clinton even continues lying about the magazine’s initial Troopergate articles (there were two) that outlined his misuse of state credit cards and state employees and chronicled sexual behavior by Mr. Clinton that was almost precisely repeated in the carefully documented Lewinsky scandal.

Lying about all this again is, to my mind, a bit weird, as is continuing to lie about women after promising the whole truth. Mr. Clinton really only confesses in this supposedly candid memoir to an affair with Monica Lewinsky, ignoring the dozen or so other women reasonable people will recognize he wronged.

The Clintons have lowered the standards of what is expected of a public figure. Their treatment of journalists who attract their ire has also heightened the dangers a president can present to the First Amendment — though I take some delight in having successfully stared the rascals down.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator, a contributing editor to the New York Sun, and an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute. His book, “Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House,” was recently published by Regnery.

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