- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Even as the Bush era opens, there would seem to be some Clintonian housekeeping left to do. There has already been a speedy transformation of the Oval Office as fresh paint, new furniture, carpeting and mementos have just about eradicated the signs of the previous presidency; as one era gives way to another, however, it may be that the transition of power has left some less than literal sweepings in the path that merit attention.

That is, we could talk about the long, l-o-n-g good-byes of an endlessly departing Bill Clinton, chronically weighing ("I …I …I… I") what his presidency meant to him at Andrews Air Force Base, at JFK Airport, at Lange's Little Store in home-sweet-Chappaqua, New York. (Correction: That last one wasn't good-bye; it was hello.) We could titter over the various farewell addresses to the nation one on the radio, as George W. Bush was practically lifting his right hand to take the oath of office, and another on television on what turned out to be the eve of Mr. Clinton's perjury-lite plea deal. Indeed, we could continue debating that grubby little bargain Mr. Clinton struck with the independent counsel, even persevering in efforts to comprehend what it means to "walk a fine line between acting lawfully and testifying falsely." (Just curious: Did he try to touch his nose at the same time?)

We could raise our eyebrows over the longest White House staff good-bye in memory; and squirm over Mr. Clinton's eyewitness account of his last moments in the Oval Office with a teary chief of staff John Podesta murmuring, "We did a lot of good. We did a lot of good." (Mr. Clinton agreed.) We could try to avert our mind's eye from the indelible imagery of a grace-challenged former president whose reluctance to cede the limelight along with his presidential powers was evident as he swaggered up the Capitol steps with the president-elect, and then down the Capitol steps with the new president. (He would later put that swagger into words when he told one crowd, "I left the White House but I'm still here!") And we could question the taste of ordering up just one more 21-gun-salute and that final, lingering review of the Honor Guard.

And then there are the dozens of last-hours pardons and commutations whose announcements initially shrouded Inauguration Day with a true Clintonian fog. Among the more outrageous recipients of presidential clemency were Susan McDougal and former terrorist Susan Rosenburg, a longtime member of the Weather Underground. There was a pardon for former first brother Roger Clinton, and, perhaps most cynically, there was one for Marc Rich, the ex-husband of a prominent Clinton-Gore fund-raiser, Denise Rich. Even former New York mayor and Clinton defender Ed Koch detected an odor. "Sounds to me like it was a favor to a fund-raiser," he told the New York Post.

We could say how typical. We could gnash our teeth. We could talk about these and other affronts to good government and to good taste, but guess what? We won't.


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