- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Send him packing

Bill Clinton "always had an easy, breezy relationship with wrongdoing," New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes.

"But the Democratic Party overlooked the ethical red flags and made a pact with Mr. Clinton that was the equivalent of a pact with the devil. And he delivered. With Mr. Clinton at the controls, the party won the White House twice. But in the process it lost its bearings and maybe even its soul," Mr. Herbert said.

"Now, with the stench of yet another scandal polluting the political atmosphere, some of Mr. Clinton's closest associates and supporters are acknowledging what his enemies have argued for years the man is so thoroughly corrupt, it's frightening."

The columnist added: "The Clintons may or may not be led away in handcuffs someday. But whatever happens with the criminal investigations [of presidential pardons], it's time for the Democratic Party to wise up. Ostracism would be a good first step. Bill Clinton should be cut completely loose. Cold turkey. No more talk about his political genius, his fund-raising prowess, his ability to captivate audiences.

"He was president for eight years and the bottom line politically is this: For the first time in nearly half a century, the Republican Party controls the presidency and both houses of Congress.

"Bill Clinton has been a disaster for the Democratic Party. Send him packing."

Egregious example

"As House Majority Leader Dick Armey and NAACP head Kweisi Mfume make plans to meet to discuss the NAACP's agenda, the Texas lawmaker has proposed that they also discuss what Armey said is an increasingly common practice by civil rights groups and Democrats of accusing Republicans of racism. We hope that the meeting will take place and that the practice will stop," Roll Call says in an editorial.

"It used to be that conservative Republicans, such as former [California] Rep. Bob Dornan, were the chief violators of congressional civility. Now there's a tendency on the part of some African-American members to match Dornan in incendiary rhetoric. One of the most egregious examples was [California] Rep. Maxine Waters' Jan. 6 denunciation of her own party's leadership for not being more vigorous in protesting voting irregularities in Florida," the newspaper said.

" 'While African-Americans in huge numbers know there was massive voter fraud, harassment and intimidation a la Jim Crow,' Waters said, 'the Democratic Party's white top-dogs have resolutely refused to talk about voting rights, race or racism.'

"She went on to accuse former Vice President Al Gore of a 'racist denial of the seriousness of racism,' even though he had just finished contesting the Florida vote. Democratic leaders have responded to Waters' allegations by placing her in charge of a task force to investigate voting irregularities around the nation."

Calling their bluff

Democrats who have long claimed to support campaign-finance reform "may be about to have their bluff called," the New York Post says.

The newspaper, in an editorial, noted that for the past few years Democrats have been able to lead cheers for campaign-finance reform knowing that Republicans would kill it. But now that it has a chance to pass, Democrats fear the joke will be on them that their chances of a comeback in 2002 could be sabotaged.

"That is, Democrats don't want reform, but they don't want to be blamed for opposing it. Better to blame the GOP," the newspaper said.

"So Dems are now looking for cover hoping the bill becomes 'poisoned.' And objections from labor unions might be just what the doctor ordered.

"The unions oppose limits the bill would place on their ability indirectly to back candidates… .

"So Democrats can now vote against the bill and say they did so to support unions.

"Of course, the truth is that unions for all the differences one might have with them (and we have plenty) have as much a right as anyone else to support candidates, directly and indirectly.

"Ditto for the National Rifle Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Bill Gates, the Communist Party of America, the Ku Klux Klan, the New York Times and you.

"The concept is known as 'freedom of speech.' (For further details, see the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.)"

Indict Castro?

Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and vice chairman of the International Relations Committee, urged the Bush administration yesterday to consider bringing an indictment against Cuban President Fidel Castro for his role in the 1996 shooting down of two Florida-based civilian planes.

Mr. Smith, in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, said Attorney General John Ashcroft should consider whether the doctrine of head of state immunity "should apply to the killing of four civilians in international airspace."

"If not, a federal grand jury should be convened to determine whether the evidence warrants an indictment of Mr. Castro for murder," Mr. Smith said.

Three Cuban-Americans and a Cuban-born U.S. resident were killed on Feb. 24, 1996, when a Cuban MiG fighter jet shot down two Cessnas with the Florida-based group Brothers to the Rescue.

The Treasury Department earlier this month authorized disbursement of $96.7 million from Cuban assets frozen in U.S. banks to pay damages to the families of the three pilots with Brothers to the Rescue who were U.S. nationals.

Frivolous comparison

Former President Bill Clinton's apologists, such as ABC commentator George Stephanopoulos, have taken to comparing the pardon of fugitive billionaire Marc Rich to the first President Bush's pardon of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in the Iran-Contra affair.

Mark Levin, president of the Landmark Legal Foundation, is outraged by such comparisons.

Despite the fact that Mr. Weinberger had opposed the sale of arms to the Iranians and knew nothing of the transfer of funds to the Nicaraguan Contras, independent counsel Lawrence Walsh threatened him with prosecution unless he could implicate President Reagan in an obstruction of justice, Mr. Levin writes at www.nationalreview.com.

When Mr. Weinberger insisted that Mr. Reagan had done nothing wrong, Mr. Walsh accused the former defense secretary of obstruction of justice, a charge that even Democrats disputed and that a court quickly dismissed. Mr. Walsh, in a gross violation of prosecutorial ethics, then brought a second indictment of Mr. Weinberger just days before the 1992 presidential election in a blatant and successful attempt to help Democratic candidate Bill Clinton, Mr. Levin noted.

Finally, Mr. Walsh accused Mr. Weinberger of withholding documents after the bungling prosecutor, informed that the papers were at the Library of Congress, looked in the wrong part of the library.

"Then-President Bush saw Walsh's actions for what they were an outrageous abuse of power," Mr. Levin said, noting that the Weinberger pardon "was reviewed through normal Justice Department processes."

Ski trip canceled

A Kansas Republican senator canceled a ski weekend for campaign contributors after a private group criticized the trip as offering special access to wealthy supporters.

Sen. Sam Brownback scrubbed the event after the critics' complaints were raised in a story by the Associated Press, which obtained an invitation and reported that donors of $1,000 would get to spend time with Mr. Brownback at the St. Regis Aspen in Colorado.

"When they raised this as a concern, that was the first I thought about the appearance involved in this particular situation," Mr. Brownback said in a telephone interview with AP writer Libby Quaid. "In the effort to raise the funds that you have to raise to run for public office, I don't want to give the appearance of special access to anybody."

High expectations

"Democratic insiders are now quietly acknowledging that they expect their party to become the Senate majority before the end of the summer," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg writes in Roll Call without further explanation.

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