Many weeks have passed since President George W. Bush took office. Although I have had mixed feelings about Bush, there is one thing I know for certain ? I am glad that former President Bill Clinton is gone.
I can hear people on the left groaning, dismissing my remarks as those of a Republican obsessed with Clinton having cheated on his wife. Of course I am upset about that, but it?s not about the sex, it?s that Clinton took the highest honor in the land and tarnished it more than any president in recent memory.
It?s about hypocrisy, arrogance, scandals and lies. Remember the Air Force general that Clinton wouldn?t nominate to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because he freely admitted to an affair almost 15 years before, while he and his wife were separated?
Remember the hearings that Clarence Thomas was subjected to because of the accusations of Anita Hill? The only accusation then was that Thomas had ?talked dirty? to her.
Clinton committed crimes that Nixon only wishes he could have gotten away with.
Our presidents may be only human, but we should have high standards for them. Anyone who listened to Clinton knew that he spoke half-truths, but we accepted it and looked away.
Clinton exhibited the very worst of what we see in politicians. Accused of dodging the draft, he condemned the accusation but was caught in a lie by letters he wrote to U.S. officials for exactly the purpose of avoiding the war. We excused the behavior and moved on.
Accused of smoking marijuana and lying about it, Clinton retorted, ?I didn?t inhale.? No one believed it then, no one believes it now. Those issues were not important we told ourselves ? anyone might do those things. So we cast our votes, and Clinton won. But the lack of character and honor that had marked Clinton before the presidency did not end with the Oath of Office.
While Clinton was selling overnight stays in the White House to foreign contributors with untraceable cash, we shrugged and chalked the action up to ?politics,? although no president in recent memory has done such a thing.
When the first scandals broke about Whitewater, some noticed a pattern, but we moved on. When someone stole important records from Vincent Foster?s office and ?placed? them in Clinton?s bedroom, where they were unnoticed for two years, we scratched our heads and wondered what was happening, but we moved on.
When Clinton hid evidence from Ken Starr, refused to testify, filed stacks of legal motions, coached witnesses, obstructed justice and delayed Starr?s inquiry for years, and then complained that the investigation had gone on too long, many of us began to lose our patience and many of us became apologists for Clinton ? but we all moved on.
And when Clinton looked the American people in the eye and chastised us for daring to accuse him of infidelity, many of us became contrite and apologetic.
But then the accusations turned out to be true, and we all new, once and for all, that we had been lied to.
Despite his policies, his skill at public debate and all of the potential that Clinton brought to the Oval Office, he was simply a man with very little character.
It is perhaps unsurprising that when Clinton left office it was in the wake of fresh scandal. By that time, many of expected such things from the president. And that is the greatest tragedy of all.