- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 31, 2001

"There is nothing so pathetic as an ex-president," Bill Clinton is reported to have said, aw-shucks-style, at a recent $100,000 chat-stop in Salem, Mass. site, of course, of the infamous Salem Witch Trials to which the ex-president actually had the crust to compare his own impeachment. While it may take some restraint, perhaps its best to let the witch-trials comment settle with a thud on top the rest of the gloppy sediment left behind by the Clinton era. Whats past is past, and all that.

Harder to ignore, though, are Clintonisms or Clintoniana that touch on the future of life in these United States; namely, things that figure in the recycling of the Big He´s reputation, the restructuring of his legacy, or, heaven forfend, the relaunching of his political career. That would take in a couple of honors Mr. Clinton stands to collect this spring, neither of them exactly Nobel Peace Prizes, but both of them improbably linked to the young the ones who, in the end, Bill Clinton harmed the most.

From Hollywood, a cluster of stars will salute the ex-president as an "advocate for children," whatever that really means, at an event called "Family Celebration." Think about it: The man whose Oval Office acts of sexual incontinence had the effect of initiating children barely old enough for the birds and the bees into deviant practices and behaviors will soon be coming home with a silver cup for family values.

Equally as improbable is the teachers union award. "We think that, during his two terms in office, Bill Clinton has done much to improve the lives of American families," a spokesman for the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) told the New York Post by way of explaining that the union will in May present this ex-president who "advanced education" with its humanitarian award.

Sordid sex education aside, does anyone really believe Bill Clinton is a worthy role model for the nation´s teachers to honor and uphold as an example their students should actually follow? While many children hope to grow up and become president, surely it´s not the hope of the teachers´ union that America´s youngsters will emulate one who has lied under oath; been found guilty of criminal contempt; voluntarily surrendered his law license for five years rather than face disbarment; and, in sum, undermined any number of the civics and citizenship lessons that teachers strive so sincerely to teach. But such concerns are entirely beside the point to UFT President Randi Weingarten, who told the New York Post, "You have to look at someone´s entire record. If this helps repair his reputation, that would be terrific." Indeed.

Of course, the ex-president isn´t the only Clinton to rack up eyebrow-raising accolades. The very week after Bill Clinton collects his teachers union gewgaw, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is scheduled to deliver the commencement address to the 300th class of Yale College, a high honor that you might say indicates a low level of idealism, among other things, at the college whose motto is Lux et Veritas Light and Truth. No word yet on whether the humanitarian in the family will attend.


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