||Presidential Report (File Article)
A Web of Lies
by R.W. Bradford
If Clinton were a great leader, the story might be tragic. But Clinton is a pathetic sociopath, and the story is a farce -- though not a very funny one.
On March 11, 1994, I got a call from one of Liberty's editors. I had predicted in Liberty that the Clinton regime would end either with the president's impeachment or (more likely) his resignation. He wanted to know whether I would care to make an actual bet on the subject. I realized that it was a sucker bet -- that the fate I foresaw for Clinton had only previously been suffered by one president, despite the manifest corruption that characterized most presidents -- but I put my money where my mouth was.
I was not convinced that any of the charges against Clinton would necessarily be his undoing. After all, he was (and remains) an extraordinarily skilled liar with wonderful "people skills." And his partner (and wife) is a very intelligent attorney, skilled at the sort of casuistry that keeps high-level criminals out of jail.
I took the bet because I knew that his previous politico-criminal career had taken place in Arkansas, a state with no serious opposition press and a small and very marginal opposition political party. These are very favorable conditions for political corruption. Under these conditions, a sociopath like Bill Clinton is liable to get overconfident. So his wife began a career stealing from the public treasury and he continued his profligate sexual life, using the trappings of his position to attract and reward his "conquests," even to the point of having a personal aide take responsibility for controlling what he called "bimbo eruptions," i.e. reports of his corrupt sexual activities in the press.
Sooner or later, I figured, that supreme confidence that he can get away with anything would be his undoing. Sooner or later, he'd fail to cover his tracks, confident that his skill as a liar and his wife's skill as a shyster would enable him to continue his career in crime, just as he had always managed to do in the past. And I had a certain amount of confidence in the American justice system: sooner or later, an investigator would find evidence that Clinton had failed to hide sufficiently well, and refuse to be intimidated. Sooner or later, a witness would refuse to be bought off, or would find himself in a situation where the cost of protecting the president was too great. The wheels of justice grind exceedingly slow, but exceedingly fine.
The main risk I faced, I figured, was that he might not be re-elected in the coming 1996 election, cutting short the time needed for him to trip up. But the Republicans already seemed determined to nominate Bob Dole, their worst possible choice as a candidate, so I figured the bet was worth taking.
In the years since, I have seen him survive all sorts of charges. The statute of limitations expired, witnesses conveniently "forgot" important details or died under mysterious circumstances, documents disappeared, spinmeisters spun, the economy boomed and the public didn't seem to care. When Clinton was re-elected in 1996, my editor friend called again, and invited me to pay off the bet. I declined, explaining that I remained convinced that Clinton's fundamental and complete lack of any moral sense and supreme overconfidence would eventually lead to his undoing.
The "Truth" . . .
Last January, when Linda Tripp walked into the Independent Counsel's office and told them that her friend Monica Lewinsky had told her that she intended to commit perjury in the sexual harassment case against Clinton and asked Tripp to perjure herself as well, a chain of events was set in motion that quickly got the president into very deep water. After hearing Tripp's tapes of her conversations with Lewinsky, the Independent Counsel asked Attorney General Janet Reno whether she wanted him to investigate this matter. She gave her assent, and the Independent Counsel quickly put together a substantial amount of evidence.
Once the press got wind of it, the pundits were almost unanimous in predicting Clinton's imminent departure, and the market value of my bet rose dramatically. Clinton had had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky, an unpaid White House intern. When he was required to testify about it in the civil suit, he perjured himself. And he had induced Lewinsky to perjure herself as well.
The Whole "Truth" . . .
But Clinton did what he'd always done: he looked into the television camera, squinted his eyes to make himself look sincere, and lied. The economy continued to boom and the people continued to think he was doing a swell job as president. And the market value of my bet dropped sharply.
At the time, I opined that if Clinton were wise, he'd resign immediately and save himself from disgrace. This time there was substantial evidence and an Independent Counsel, Kenneth Starr, with the power to get it. Clinton could spin all he wanted. He could resist the investigation all he wanted. He could lie all he wanted. But sooner or later, this time, the evidence could not be kept from public scrutiny, and no matter how distasteful people found it, they'd have to face the facts.
For months, Clinton's strategy worked in the court of public opinion. A parade of witnesses came forward, attesting to his good character and honesty. The stock market rose even higher. The American people didn't want to believe the sordid story, and continued to hold the president in high esteem.
But the wheels of justice continued to grind. One by one, the president's attempts to keep evidence from the investigation failed. No, the Secret Service could not refuse to testify on grounds that they protected the president. No, the president's advisors could not refuse to testify because they were the president's advisors. Etc. Etc. Etc. And eventually the former intern, faced with the fact that there was ample evidence of her own perjury, agreed to tell investigators the truth.
By mid-August, it was evident to everyone in the country except the president that the Independent Counsel had hard evidence that the president had perjured himself in his testimony in the Jones case. The president had fought every attempt to subpoena him to testify on the matter, but he could see the writing on the wall. With no other options open, he agreed to testify before the Independent Counsel's grand jury on August 17, and announced he would address the nation that evening.
Judging from what I saw on the television news channels over the weekend preceding his testimony, one thing was plain to his friends and apologists. Whatever had happened before, his only means of survival was to tell the truth. Maybe people would forgive his sexual peccadillos and even his perjury in the Jones trial. After all, who doesn't lie about sex? But to lie again, this time to a federal grand jury, not lawyers suing him in a civil case, simply would not do. Americans would not forgive him that. continues
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