Here we go again

By Justin Valente
web posted April 1999

It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them – Mark Twain

In an impassioned plea before the Senate, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe (R) urged Senators to take the growing China situation seriously and wondered if President Clinton had been impeached for the wrong crime. Inhofe quoted Henry Ward Beecher, "I don't like those cold, precise people, who, in order not to say wrong, say nothing...and in order not to do wrong, do nothing." Ignored by the media, Inhofe's speech was a plea for the American people to start paying attention. "I hope America is listening. We've got a nation to save." Unfortunately, Senator, America is asleep, and the media does not think it's their business to wake her up.

Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." In this case, the temporary safety is the 1996 election. Senator Inhofe, like many others, is drawing a parallel between the campaign finance scandal and the nuclear thefts at Los Alamos. He tells a story in which the Clinton administration covered up the nuclear thefts, used strong Chinese connections to raise campaign money, and signed waivers to let his top campaign contributors (Loral & Hughes) transfer missile guidance technology to China. The liberal response, via Doyle McManus, Washington Bureau Chief of the Los Angeles Times, "At this point, no solid connection has been established between these events, this espionage investigation and either the campaign finance scandal of 1996 or President Clinton's visit to China in 1998 or any of the policy events in between. What Republicans and the opponents of the Clinton administration's policy are using is, in effect, the coincidences of the calendar." It always comes down to two things with this administration – proof and partisanship.

The White House, in a completely unexpected move, has accused Republicans of – what else, playing partisan politics in a renewed effort to get Bill Clinton. Spokesman Joe Lockhart's latest pearl of wisdom is that the whole situation is based solely on "partisan point scoring." Sticking with their usual MO, the White House has set out to defend the indefensible by blaming – well, you know who. Once again, familiar phrases like "partisan witch hunt" are making their way back on the scene, this time courtesy of Newsweek's Evan Thomas. Thomas says he's "suspicious" of the Republicans and that it feels like "a lot of witch hunts of the past where they see a chance to make some political capital by us not being tough enough." The Chinese have gotten their two cents in as well, claiming no responsibility in the nuclear thefts at Los Alamos, and declaring that US-China relations are being sacrificed to partisan politics and political "witch hunts". Again, sounds really familiar – you don't need spies to figure out how to spin this one.

One fact that the Clinton administration was quick to disclose is when the nuclear thefts took place, in case we didn't already know. Al Gore told Wolf Blitzer, "this took place in the previous administration," not once, but twice. In an interview with Ted Koppel, Sandy Berger informed us that the event in question took place in the 1980s every chance he could get. In a New York Daily News Op Ed, Lars Erik-Nelson took a few shots at New York Times reporter Jeff Gerth, for exposing the Los Alamos thefts, "That reality [secrets were stolen during Reagan/Bush years] won't stop the loony right from lynching Lee on general suspicion, with the aid of supposedly responsible media. The respectable press (this means you, New York Times) once opposed lynch mobs; now it leads them." Once again, the focus shifts to the "loony right," and the one reporter trying to get the truth to the American people. It's official – patriotism has become synonymous with partisanship.

Facing calls for his resignation, National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, decided to face the music, making appearances on Meet the Press and Nightline. Berger, rather unconvincingly maintained that the administration "acted swiftly" to rectify the situation, a claim which Koppel surprisingly wasn't buying. Not surprisingly, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, a former Congressman and close friend of Bill Clinton, has backed up Berger's claim. Question is, do either of these men have any credibility?

Richardson seems an interesting character. A former Democratic Congressman from New Mexico, he was caught lying in his 1980 campaign. Richardson claimed to have served as "foreign policy advisor" to Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, but when reporters checked with Humphrey's office, he was reported as an "unpaid intern." Richardson must have been the most influential intern since Monica Lewinsky! However, there is a surprising connection between Bill Richardson and the world's most famous intern. You guessed it, while serving as U.N. Ambassador, Bill Richardson offered Monica Lewinsky a job on his staff, which she turned down. According to Richardson, Bill Clinton's situation had nothing to do with his good will. The script almost writes itself at this point, doesn't it?

Sophocles said, "A lie never lives to be old." Inhofe cited 130 times between 1995 and 1997, where William Jefferson Clinton, knowing this to be what else, a lie, proclaimed to America, "...for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age, there is not a single, solitary nuclear missile pointed at an American child tonight. Not one. Not a single one." Sounds familiar to me – "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie. Not a single time. Never." I wonder if he was wagging his finger as well? Of Bill Clinton, Mr. Inhofe said, "the founding fathers never envisioned we would have a president who would do these kinds of things and act in these ways. This is why the Constitution gives the president great latitude of action in carrying out his duties and why he is protected from the other branches of government by the separation of powers."

Like the founding fathers, perhaps Sophocles never envisioned William Jefferson Clinton.

Justin Valente is a first time contributor to Enter Stage Right. He can be reached at

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