One of the 20th Century’s most enduring images was of Bill Clinton standing at a White House podium and responding to a reporter’s question about his affair with Monica Lewinsky with a crimson face, his neck veins on the verge of exploding, and his finger wagging furiously like an old schoolmarm’s, as he told the entire Congress, nation and world: “I did not have sex with that woman!”
For nearly a year, and through depositions under oath, Clinton maintained his stance, as did his leftwing media echo chamber, his “right-wing conspiracy” wife, and a virtual industry of talking heads and Hollywood partisans…the list goes on.
Personally, I didn’t care much about the president’s serial sexual peccadilloes, other than they were unseemly and immoral. But I was greatly concerned that they were distracting him from much more important affairs – those of state. I didn’t believe his denial, but I don’t blame those who did. As the old chestnut goes: Fool me once, it’s your fault.
What I did care about was that HE LIED!
Fool me twice, Mr. Clinton, no way! Perhaps it was premature of you to appear on Fox News Sunday while you were still smarting from ABC-TV’s “Path to 9/11,” in which the minions you sicced on the network and the attempts you made to get the show axed, failed, thus giving the American public a view of your consistently ineffectual role in stemming the rising tide of Islamic terrorism against our country.
And you can’t respond to a perfectly legitimate question from Chris Wallace about your role in “connecting the dots” by wagging your finger again.
You should know that this defensive gesture – which is also an unsubtle attempt to threaten and intimidate – has become, in the public imagination, synonymous with lying – your lying!
To his credit, Wallace remained impassive, probably because his years of interviewing higher-ups had taught him that full-blown meltdowns were best left uninterrupted. He sat there as Clinton, in clinical paranoia mode, jabbed at his host’s notes, interpreted Wallace’s expression as a “smirk,” accused him of a “conservative hit job,” and launched into a clearly rehearsed litany of grievances against “right wingers,” “neocons,” the Fox News Network, and the ubiquitous “they” – all of which had misrepresented and misunderstood what he would like the public to believe were his lofty motives and unassailable actions.
“They ridicule me for trying,” Clinton said. “They had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed.”
Now there’s an equation – approximately 240 days vs. approximately 3,000 days. Must be the new math for liberals!
DEFENDING THE INDEFENSIBLE
Clinton repeatedly cited his top terrorist chief, Richard A. Clarke – a member of the administrations of Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II – as proof that this expert knew more than anyone in the world about the looming Al Qaeda threat. But under Bush, Clinton whined, “he was demoted.”
Clinton then went on to promote Clarke’s book, not once but several times, ostensibly to “prove” to the audience that what Clarke has to say is the gospel truth.
Truth? George W. Bush looks at results! And from Clarke, there were none! In the entire eight years he served in the Clinton administration, Afghanistan was not deloused of the Taliban, Iraq was not liberated from decades of brutal tyranny, Libya never capitulated to U.S. demands to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, Pakistan was never our ally, and Iran and Syria were never afraid of being the next target in our urgent war on terrorism.
Significantly, in the earliest days of the Bush administration, Clarke wrote: “The Bush administration decided … mid-January (2001) to… vigorously pursue the existing (Clinton) policy, including all of the lethal covert action findings… to initiate a process to look at those issues which had been on the table for a couple of years and get them decided…” And, Clarke said, in the spring before 9/11 to “… to increase CIA resources, for example, for covert action, five-fold, to go after al Qaeda.”
So not eight months, but during the very month of his inauguration and shortly thereafter, Bush was vigorously and aggressively addressing the terrorist threat to our nation. Oh those damned empirical facts!
Because Bush was aware that Clarke’s lengthy tenure had accomplished nothing, he downgraded his position on the National Security Council and – charitably, it seems clear – assigned him to be coordinator for cyber-terrorism.
Hence, the revelation of Clarke’s – like Clinton’s – tissue-thin ego. So enraged and aggrieved was this self-important bureaucrat that he immediately launched a full-blown vendetta, writing a book full of historical distortions and lies and testifying before the 9/11 Commission that President Bush was slow to respond to the terrorist threat.
He must have forgotten about his previous testimony in which he stated: “President Bush told us in March (2001) to stop swatting at flies and just solve this problem… that was the strategic direction that changed the National Security Presidential Directive (of Clinton’s) from one of rollback to one of elimination.”
When asked if, in fact, the Bush administration made the only changes in fighting terrorism since October 1998, Clarke replied: “You got it. That’s right…”
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN
To inveterate pol watchers, Clinton’s explosive and defensive behavior is nothing new.
According to WorldNetDaily.com’s reporter Paul Sperry, who attended a September 1999 White House picnic, Clinton has a naturally defensive nature. When Sperry had the temerity to ask the then-president the ultimate of softball questions, i.e., when he would hold his next formal news conference, Clinton went on a rampage.
“I’ll never forget the maniacal look in his bloodshot eyes,” Sperry said. “I was getting full frontal Clinton. His volcanic temper, hidden so well from the public by his handlers, erupted less than 12 inches from my eyes.”
“Why?” Clinton snapped at Sperry.
“Because the American people have a lot of unanswered questions,” Sperry replied.
“Like what?” Clinton challenged him.
“Well, like illegal money from China and the campaign-finance scandal...”
According to Sperry, “I watched the blood rush to Clinton’s gargantuan face as he launched into a tirade against ex-Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour, the FBI, Bob Dole and Republicans in general. All the while, he tried to belittle … and intimidate me by getting in my face. “
A witness to this encounter reported the confrontation: Sperry “obviously struck a real chord. [Clinton] got real pi---- off. He did the finger-in-the-face thing.”
Two weeks later, the feds called on Sperry’s employer, Investor’s Business Daily, asking for his records, but IBD called lawyers who sent them away.
According to WND, a month before the picnic, Sperry had written an exposé on Vanessa Weaver, a Clinton appointee to the U.S. Export-Import Bank. This led the Senate Banking Committee to force her to recuse herself from all deals related to the Beijing-tied Lippo Group. Her confirmation hearing revealed Weaver’s close relationship with convicted Clinton fund-raiser John Huang, a former top Lippo executive, and her potential conflicts of interest.
YEARNING FOR A LEGACY
A pathological narcissist like Bill Clinton cannot stand being out of the spotlight, not being admired, fawned over, appreciated, acknowledged, and celebrated. Since his political obscurity began almost six years ago, he has been desperately trying to create a legacy that he hopes will place him in the pantheon of great U.S. presidents.
He knows that legacy will never include the ephemeral economic “bubble” of his tenure or his track record on national security. So he has depended on the stellar imprimatur of former President George H.W. Bush, as well as the generous “forgive them their trespasses” generosity of current President George W. Bush to resurrect his “image.” This in spite of the fact that Clinton, shamefully, never fails to savage the president, even on foreign shores!
With the first President Bush, he has become a fundraising champion for disaster relief. And through the Clinton Global Initiative (a non-partisan project that, according to its website, aims to “bridge differences in religion, race, nationality, ethnicity and politics”) he has spearheaded, among other things, the bogus issue of global warming.
But I and most Americans are less interested in donating money to “causes” than to believing in the people who tout them, and definitely less interested in embracing the legacy-seeking wishes of a narcissist than in erasing from our memories their finger-wagging lies!
Joan Swirsky is a New York-based journalist and author who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org