- The Washington Times - Friday, January 19, 2001

Dear Mr. President, beginning today and ending tomorrow at noon, you have one day during which you may act with uninterrupted dignity. That doesn't mean, Sir, that you can't go to McDonald's. But nix on the weird frenzy of declarations and regulations and proposals and studies with which you've been clogging the news cycles lately. People might get the impression you're feeling a splash desperate as the hours tick and tock away to that final tick (or tock) when you forever change, poof, from president to citizen. (Note: don't despair and please don't bite your lower lip.)

In the words of William Jefferson Clinton writing in the New York Times, being a citizen is "the most important job of all." Whoops William Jefferson Clinton is you. Almost didn't recognize you behind the stretch-limo-moniker. (Note: better stick with Bill.)

Of course, maybe you'd rather take it easy during this final day of your presidency as a favor to such members of the vast right wing conspiracy as the media. They just might find something more important to put on the front page than that "last-minute call to police the [airline] industry more closely" of yours that ran a few days ago. Or take those "11th-hour recommendations" on racial reconciliation you sent over to Congress this week. While at least one paper thoughtfully tucked the story inside the A-section which is where all those derisive comments from civil rights leaders (wondering where you've been all these years) belong this sort of thing doesn't really serve The Legacy well. (Note: Get Carville he's gone? okay, get Hillary to find out which anonymous black leader reacted to your proposals by telling the New York Times, "I'm glad you called. I needed some comic relief." HRC's busy? Isn't there anyone over there besides Robert Ray?)

On the other hand, that was mighty slick (sorry) of your Justice Department, just days before you get out of town, to conclude its plea deal with James Riady, the man who finessed the flow of millions in illegal Chinese money into your campaign coffers, without gaining a thing from him in return except a fine (not too big a deal to a billionaire) and 400 hours of community service which Dick Morris (sorry) says may actually be performed in Jakarta. (Note: really nice touch.) In the bad old days, you might have needed to bomb an aspirin factory to put that one over, but no one paid too much attention except maybe William Safire, who wrote that you will be remembered as the American president whose "foreign policy decisions were substantially influenced by unlawful campaign contributions at critical times from a foreign source." He even put that in italics, churlish thing. (Note: don't stop thinking about tomorrow.)

Speaking of Fleetwood Mac and your campaign theme song, when Betty Currie introduced the group's surprise reunion at the White House this month by noting that you always like surprises, Daily Variety reported, "the president broke down in tears." Maybe you were just feeling your own pain. Or maybe you were just relieved that Monica Lewinsky wasn't behind the curtain. But pip, pip, old bean. Smile wanly, look misty, but no more tears. And no more faux-Gipper valedictories. "I came here … to thank you for making me the Comeback Kid," you said in New Hampshire last week, making some people wonder all over again how it is that a "Comeback Kid" comes in second, and making other people wonder whether they were listening to an ex-boxing champion. Continuing, you said, "And far more important to thank you for making America the Comeback Country." (Note: Huh?)

One more word of advice. The 10,000 "undervotes" just counted in Miami-Dade County give George W. Bush six more votes (not that he needed them) in his Florida margin of victory, while a recent poll shows the Bush transition at a 70 percent approval rating. In other words, things are going from bad to worse. In consideration of your day of dignity, it might be best to stay indoors today, maybe tidy up the Oval Office. The new folks would certainly appreciate it.


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