- The Washington Times - Monday, September 10, 2001

Janet Reno's bid to unseat Florida Gov. Jeb Bush just began, but the red-pickup-truck routine is already getting a little old. It just goes too well with the house dress, the big purse and all those cozy press conferences in the back yard of what a real estate agent might call her "rustic" family home. Folksy is as folksy does, but is Janet Reno, Bill Clinton's favorite (and only) attorney general, honestly as simple as her props? Or is she a seasoned, cynical manipulator?
This same question puzzled Washington for eight long years during which, as many a weary wag has noted, Miss Reno transformed the Justice Department into the legal activist arm of the Clinton defense fund. As President Clinton's top cop, Miss Reno repeatedly stonewalled congressional committees; repeatedly subverted or blocked the efforts of multiple independent counsels; and, of course, presided over the deadly calamity at Waco and the gunpoint-seizure of Elian Gonzales. And that's just for starters.
After making such a mockery of the rule of law, it's perhaps not altogether odd that Miss Reno, in her first appearance as a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, would choose to make a speech about the need for how to put it? laughter in the nation. "It's important that Americans laugh together," she told mainly college students in Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania?), "to break free of invective we use against each other."
Here we have another example of the Reno paradox: Is her remark actually as inane as it sounds, or is it the foundation of a super-shrewd campaign strategy? After all, "laughter" is bound to poll better than "invective" every time.
By the way, Miss Reno brought up her record in her second public appearance last week, declaring that many believe she carries too much "baggage" to become governor. Among said "baggage" she includes the Elian Gonzales case ("I thought the little boy belonged to with his daddy"), Waco ("I think the people of the State of Florida will want someone who will try to do the right thing"), and her Parkinson's disease.
Her Parkinson's disease? This is yet another Reno Moment. Does she really equate a decision, for example, to send a SWAT team into a family custody battle with a physical affliction? Given that Miss Reno happened to be addressing a gathering of "advocates for the disabled," maybe such equivalence wasn't so terrible an idea. That is, rather than confusing her blameless physical condition with her atrocious judgments, the audience might actually have come to see Elian, Waco, et al as so many disabilities to be overlooked, if not accepted.
Time will tell. Meanwhile, as Miss Reno puts it, she's still "trying to work through the issues and mostly just climbing in my truck and going." Which sounds good to us. Drive, Janet, drive.


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