- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 24, 2002

By the time the General Accounting Office gets around to finalizing its draft report on the giant temper tantrum triggered by the inauguration of George W. Bush that by-now notorious hissy-fit that put the White House office complex at the mercy of petty-criminalizing Clintonistas on their way out we'll have heard all about the $200,000 in taxpayer money that was spent to investigate what amounts to $14,000 in damage to White House property. So much taxpayer money, the Democrats will say, spent on what appears to be relatively little destruction. Or, as one former Clinton official put it to The Washington Times last week, "So much sound and fury signifying nothing."
That's Shakespeare, isn't it? While it's always nice to see Clinton administration officials attempting a little cultural uplift, not even the Bard himself can elevate the tone this time around. What's needed now is an apology, not a soliloquy. Remember when Rep. Anthony D. Weiner, New York Democrat, held a press conference last year to declare that the Bush White House had made up the whole story? Mr. Weiner, alas, seems to have been misinformed.
According to the newspaper article, the GAO probe has assessed the reimbursable damage to the White House at as many as 75 computer keyboards (destroyed by Clinton staffers who snapped off the "W" keys), some number of broken chairs and tables, the theft of two antique doorknobs and one presidential seal, as well as a tangle of cut telephone wires. "Some [telephone] wires were cut," a former Clinton official who has seen the report admitted to The Times, "but they had been inactive for a decade." You might wonder how this former Clinton official knows that the very wires that were cut had been "inactive for a decade." But what's more important about this blindly reflexive urge to justify not-so-petty crime is what it says about Clinton-style protocol: It's OK to disable government telephones so long as they're already out of order.
Meanwhile, the GAO report catalogues other vandalism the kind that doesn't necessarily show up on the taxpayers' tab. Incoming Bush administration staffers came to their first day of work last year to find desks overturned, garbage thrown on the floor and nasty graffiti defacing the walls. There were obscene voice-mail messages programmed into White House telephones and pornographic pictures left in office printers. "In addition, the report says staffers disabled or reprogrammed at least 75 phones," the article continues, "sending the new Bush aides into chaos for the first few days of the Bush administration."
Nothing that couldn't be put right, picked up, painted over, erased or removed. But this was a White House in transition, not a Woodstock mosh pit.


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