- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2001

These are remarkable days for members of the Democrat party. They are heaping acrimony on the graying head of a man they praised and defended without question for eight full years, through bad times and worse.

One will never forget how Bill Clinton was cheered like a conquering hero when he came before the Congress to deliver a State of the Union speech, only a few weeks after he was impeached by the House of Representatives. One thought the thunderous applause given to this unconvicted felon would never stop.

Now, all over America, political pundits are sitting around a table, scratching their heads and marveling at how one moment Bill Clinton is a hero, and the next moment, not having done anything unexpected or out of character, he is a pariah. It has all the earmarks of a vast left-wing conspiracy.

Liberal columnist Bob Herbert, writing in The New York Times, confirmed that “the Democrat Party made a pact with Mr. Clinton that was the equivalent of a pact with the devil. And he delivered.” An editorial in The New York Observer, often called the paper of the liberal elite, described Mr. Clinton as “an untrustworthy lowlife who used people for his own purposes and then discarded them. How could they have been fooled so badly?” The editorial admitted that the way Clinton is now seen by his supporters “is terrifyingly close to the caricature his enemies drew of him. They were right after all.”

This steaming hostility is typical of what is being openly expressed by many mainstream Democrats. But how deep does it run? How long will it last?

On the face of it, we have in view a stunning political reversal. However, millions of Americans, including political hacks, media toadies, and grass-roots dupes, were unflinchingly loyal to Clinton throughout a scandal-drenched eight years, during which it was credibly charged or proven that he: seduced a 21-year-old White House intern, groped a visitor in the Oval Office, paid his way out of a pants-dropping charge, was credibly accused of rape, organized a White House hit team to assassinate the reputation of his accusers; took money from Chinese communist donors; entertained known criminals, drug dealers and arms smugglers at private White House gatherings; hid subpoenaed documents in the living quarters of the White House, rented out the Lincoln bedroom, sold seats on Air Force One, violated the War Powers Act, bombed an aspirin factory in Sudan, never uttered a word of regret for the 19 innocent babies and children who were burned to death at Waco, used the IRS and the FBI to attack political enemies, used taxpayer-paid lawyers and aides to defend himself against charges of sexual misconduct, lied under oath, lied when not under oath, shredded documents, suborned perjury, tampered with witnesses and obstructed justice.

Now, we are asked to believe that those who displayed an impenetrable indifference to this wholesale sinning were overcome with moral outrage when they learned of the alleged sale of a few presidential pardons. This has to be a near perfect illustration of what it means to “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.”

This instantaneous transformation has many of the characteristics of a religious conversion. While a number of us know that lives can change in a wondrous instant — on the road to Damascus and elsewhere — that is not likely to have happened in this case, given the nullifidian nature of those involved. We must look elsewhere for understanding.

All in all, I am reluctant to believe that the mere sale of pardons was the final straw that broke the back of Democrat dogmatism. Despite all the cathartic caterwauling and the donning of hair shirts, I am skeptical that Democrats have seen the evil of their ways and committed themselves to change.

These are the same people who have a world view which does not permit them to understand that one cannot lay up treasures in heaven by giving away someone else's money; it has to be one's own money. Nor are they able to understand that one cannot achieve redemption by offering up scapegoats to atone for one's own sins, even a scapegoat as worthy of offering up as Bill Clinton; it has to be one's self that is offered up.

On the other hand, I remain hopeful that in time, the legacy of the Clinton presidency will be that its classic wretchedness awakened the American people from a soul-numbing, moral stupor. The Lord moves in mysterious ways.

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