- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Though the Clintons left the White House on Jan. 20 for the last time, their ugly political residue remains. Fresh stories keep emerging about gifts from friends, puerile vandalism in the hallowed offices of the executive branch and the selling of pardons.

Most Americans have held the notion that Bill Clinton was a man deficient in character yet proficient with political skills. It's no surprise then that during the yearlong agony of impeachment Mr. Clinton put this country through, the White House spin-thugs were dispatched not to preserve, protect and defend but instead employed a mantra of oppose, impede and prevent. Mr. Clinton's political desperadoes peddled snake oil to the American people so as to convince us the impeachment process was about Mr. Clinton cheating on his wife (shock and surprise) with a girl barely older than his daughter, instead of the high crime of perjured testimony before a federal grand jury and obstructing the rule of law.

The stratagem worked but left Mr. Clinton with a legacy of essentially being despised by every decent person in America; paradoxically, he was also praised for the state of the economy. Never mind the fact that this economic expansion without inflation traces its genesis to Ronald Reagan's presidency. Mr. Clinton remains obsessed with dismantling all common reason regarding his lack of major accomplishments and focuses all his efforts on convincing Americans that he isn't what we think he is an unethical sociopath devoid of even the most fundamental principles.

Now comes fresh evidence of, once again, the selling of Clinton favors and I'm not talking about sex (although this might be a first).

Marc Rich who bilked American taxpayers out of millions of dollars, did business with Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini during the 1980 hostage crisis and ignored economic sanctions on South Africa imposed because of that country's practice of apartheid has been on the lam for years. He's spent the last few years jet-setting through Europe living in luxury as a fugitive, out of the reach of U.S. law-enforcement officials who have said Rich considers himself "a citizen of the world" inconvenienced by the laws of nations. Sounds like someone else we know. Marc Rich and his wife, Denise, apparently unskilled in the ways of the District of Clintonia, hired former Clinton White House Counsel Jack Quinn. Mr. Quinn knows how to get things done and undone in Washington. A federal law making it illegal for Mr. Quinn to lobby the White House and Mr. Clinton for five years after leaving his old post didn't exactly inconvenience him, because four years later there's Mr. Quinn nudging Mr. Clinton on behalf of his fugitive client. Winks and smiles went a long way in Mr. Clinton's White House.

The task was easy. Just get a tax evader pardoned so he can skip out on paying millions in back taxes. The strategy for Mr. Rich's wife was easy too: Give $1.3 million to the Democratic National Committee, cough up another pile of dough for the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, and get close to Mr. Clinton.

We all know what that meant. Mrs. Rich apparently got the message. The Democrats and Mr. Clinton got their money and, low and behold, Rich had his pardon. Now he can come back to the United States and test our ski slopes instead of trailing down those in Switzerland.

There is an epilogue to all this, however, one that is indicative of the shameless moral indifference of all those characters involved in such a sordid tale, and I mean all of them Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, Denise Rich, Marc Rich, Jack Quinn and the rest of the Clinton gang.

Being unable to speak for herself honestly or truthfully, Mrs. Rich hired well-known New York City publicist Howard Rubenstein to issue a statement for her on her husband's behalf. This statement took dead aim at the sympathy angle by claiming the pardon given to Marc Rich will give him the opportunity to visit his daughter's grave for the first time. Their daughter had died from cancer in 1996. Mr. Rich was unable to be with her during her illness as well as when she died.

In that pathetic statement lies the eulogy of the Clintons and the morally and ethically bankrupt crowd they brought to town with them. The fact that Mr. Rich never saw his daughter while she was dying was a conscious choice of a man faced with paying for his crimes in a court of law or never again seeing his daughter alive. Mr. Rich apparently never tried to have his daughter brought to Europe so he could see her while still avoiding U.S. law-enforcement officials. Mrs. Rich is then callous enough to use the death of their daughter to stir up a little sympathy in order to validate her husband's grievous crimes.

So, the Clintons depart exactly as they arrived completely and utterly unapologetic dregs without an ounce of class or dignity. They'll associate with anybody, even somebody who prefers to stay out of jail rather than hold the hand of a dying daughter one more time.

Craig Shirley is president of Craig Shirley & Associates, a public affairs firm based in Alexandria, Va.


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