Monday, March 17, 2008

Ancient History: Hillary's Bones

Hillary's Comet


Published: April 13, 1997

In the most tasteless remark of her First Ladyship, Hillary Clinton asserted that the investigation into hush money purportedly paid her former partner Webster Hubbell ''reminds me of some people's obsession with U.F.O.'s and the Hale-Bopp comet.''

Told of his wife's comparison of her prosecutorial pursuers to the ailment afflicting 39 members of a cult who committed suicide in hopes of boarding a spaceship they believed was trailing the comet, President Clinton roared with laughter and said: ''Did she say that? That's pretty good.''

I like a good laugh, too, but in a case that gained national attention with the insertion of a gun into the mouth of her friend and partner Vincent Foster, the last metaphor I would use to heap ridicule on investigators would be a mass suicide.

More suitably laughable is Mrs. Clinton's claim to victimization not only by crazed conspiracy cultists, but by the predations of Hubbell, her erstwhile partner and convicted fraud. Seeking our sympathy, she told N.P.R.'s Diane Rehm: ''It hurt me personally . . . the money he went to prison for having misused was partly my money. . . .''

Hubbell was the man who provided his father-in-law to be the front for the Clintons' Whitewater dealings; who concealed Clinton records in his basement while he served as Associate Attorney General; who spurned leniency and took an 18-month sentence rather than tell what he knew of their part in the ripoff of taxpayers; who now faces a hush-money prosecution that could put him away for a decade -- and she accuses him of victimizing her.

This strikes us cultists as an obvious charade: Just as Hubbell now pretends to have lied to the Clintons about his ''billing problem,'' Hillary now pretends to have been victimized by Hubbell. Teamwork.

Tomorrow morning, the Clintons' Whitewater partner, James McDougal, will be sentenced for his crimes in defrauding taxpayers of millions of dollars. Like another crooked Clinton associate, David Hale, he is cooperating with prosecutors in building a fraud and perjury case against the Clintons.

McDougal last week called upon the President to publicly urge Susan McDougal to tell the truth about the President's testimony, thereby releasing her from jail for contempt of court. Mr. Clinton does not do that because Susan's silence is golden to him.

One week later, Independent Counsel Ken Starr will be able to title his prosecutorial memoirs ''A Thousand Days.'' That's about how long J.F.K. served, and it is time to come to closure on some of the cases.

In Travelgate, Hillary's abuse of F.B.I. powers to justify political patronage, we know that her story to the General Accounting Office is contradicted by contemporaneous documents. Indict her, or issue a criminal information that the court can relay to the public, or drop it.

In Filegate, where her hand-picked bar bouncer called up F.B.I. files that had no business being in the White House and invaded the privacy of 900 Americans, Starr should seek indictment, issue a report, or cut bait.

Both in Whitewater I, the Arkansas fraud, and in Whitewater II, the Washington cover-up, Starr apparently sees a chance to crack the cases by uncovering a conspiracy to buy Hubbell's silence. That heats up a cold trail and deserves patient, relentless pursuit; it may solve the mystery of the reappearance of long-subpoenaed billing records next door to Hillary's hideaway.

But in the I.C.'s other political corruption cases, justice delayed is worse than justice denied; it is justice derided and discredited, defeating the purpose of an independent counsel.

That purpose is to assure the public that no administration is the prosecutor in its own case. Another purpose, implicit in the law, is to make it possible for the public to learn the truth about wrongful actions of public officials even when prosecutors do not believe they can win at trial. The three-judge panel that appointed Starr should call him in on Day 1,000 and remind him of alternatives and obligations.

Hillary Clinton, in her kidding about suicidal cults and her pose as victim of Hubbell the betrayer, has done us a service. She demands decisions soon on cases too long pending. She and we are entitled to them.

Original article posted here.

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