Pacific Stars And Stripes, May 20, 1997, Page 12

Pacific Stars And Stripes

May 20, 1997

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Issue date: Tuesday, May 20, 1997

Pages available: 35

Previous edition: Monday, May 19, 1997

Next edition: Wednesday, May 21, 1997

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Publication name: Pacific Stars And Stripes

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Pages available: 580,340

Years available: 1948 - 1999

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Pacific Stars And Stripes (Newspaper) - May 20, 1997, Tokyo, Japan•/•::-V :/£••;•/ AMD STRIPES TUESDAY, W BY WnuAM'SAFisE; , * /•",. . ... " . . .' • . V • -. o • • . . <5i The New York Times onsider a quartet of contemptuous acts. 1 Contempt toward the Senate. Asked i why she opposed an independent counselin the cainpaign finance scandal, President Clinton's attorney .general, Janet Reno, as- sured senators that the "career professionals" in the Justice Department advised her againstit. But Reno in the witness chak deliberately withheld one material fact: FBI Director Louis Freeh had repeatedly and strongly urged her to let outside counsel investigate the Asian penetration of the White House. 2. Contempt for the public's intelligence.Watch for weasel words ending in -ly. Clinton said he had not based foreign policy decisions "solely" on campaign contributions — as • if even partial influence were not evidence of bribery. •-•. ••'-..'^- •'•'•'•"••" '/" v • • '."•/.'-•-/Fully is another adverb that helps the Clin- tons wriggle away. For months, the president > and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been insist-ing they had been told only that Webster Hub- bell was involved ina me.rj '*biUing dispute"^— nothing eriniinal, prosecution of which might cause HuBbellto spill the beans on ^lutewater bribery.r But Jeff Gejth and Steve Labaton of The Times blew that line out of the-water by re-vealing that Clinton's personal lawyer, David Kendall, and the Clintons' commodity bene-factor, James Blair, were both profoundly aware of what deep trouble Hubbell was hi while he was still associate attorney general. During those eighkt months befojfe Hubbell wa^ forced to plead guilty, to fratid, nearly ahalf million dollars flowed into his pocket, as he stopped cooperating with the prosecution. You are being asked to believe that all dur- ing that time neither Kendall nor Blair men- tioned HubbeU's criminal vumerability to the Clintons — even as those aides were getting the crook to resign. uHow does the White House-handle exposure of this tissue of lies about what the .presidentknew and when he knew it? The fallback fudge is that neither Clinton was fully apprised of what Kendall and Blair had learned. That clanks false, It's more reasonable to assume the Clintons were warned^time andagain of their closest associate's deep trouble, and of the need to jsteer han 'heavy fees to keep him inside the tent. The deed was done; the money passed; staring at tjs are signs of acriminal conspiracy to tamper with a witness. 3. Contempt of the House. Only when White House counsel Jack Qumn last year was faced with a contempt of Congress charge didhe release thousands of pages of long-con- cealed documents. ^But the White House did not tell Congress -about 'the damaging notes taken by publicly pal^ lawyers it was secretly fighting hi court to withhold from the independent counsel on spurious grounds of privilege. The ijouse of Representatives now discovers^ Jt^as bee»hoodwinked •— treated with utmost contempt. 4. Contempt of underlings. After turning over some of #ie notes taken by governmentlawyers rof meetings wfth subordinateB, as re- <*. quired by law in criminal cases, the^CUntons secretly "drew the line" at dioing the samewith the first l^dy^1 all Jhe'while publicly pre- tending to cooperate, Suddenly a new princi- ple o(f privilege was discovered not available^to anyone else in the White House. , Upon what meat doth Caesar's wife feed that she is g^wn so great? pbes the lawyerly , first lady seriously assert $neoenjoys a privi-lege in law denied to Margaret Williams, her lotal chief of staff? Does she hojid the Supreme Court in contempt, too? ^* 9lgO ® 4 biijjsp "' JW * Hie Americaa public gives President Clinton high marks for his job performance, but the news media continue to aim a steady bar- rage of criticism, much of it undeserved, at the chief executive. BY MARIANNE MEANS * Hearst Newspapers lot of media folks don't like Presi- dent Clinton, contrary to the nut- ty self-serving stuff about exten- sive pro-Clinton press bias spread by the right wing.Many media people think 'he is get- ting nothing done, fibs a lot, has nocental philosophical core, is intellec- tually paralyzed by scandal and substi- tutes ginimicks for bold programs. In most journalistic quarters he can do no right and gets credit for hardly anything. .The underlying problem is that there is nothing huge going on rightnow to CK^upy the media's attention: no recession, no Cold War, no hemi- spheric hot war, no radical struggle for people's hearts and minds. Without big-time distractions, Clinton becomes the rhain target of opportunity. But the president, burned by the de- feat of his qverairibitious health-carereforms in ms first term, finds it more useful to compromise with tibe GOP- controlled Congress and co-opt Repub- lican themes than butt heads uv a brac- ing but bitter partisan battle. Confrontation makes news; coopera^ tion does not. Reyojution makes news; evolution does not The more reason- able Clinton sounds, the less interest- ing he becomes,- V ^Clinton is not alone. No president has a long shelf life* with journalists whose professional duty it is to detail -every .move, no matter how trivial. George Bush, for instance, was dis-missed in short order as a do-nothing caretaker, an unflattering image that even ar war in me Persian Gulf could not penn|inently shatteis! Bush looks good, compared with Clinton, only to those with short memories who are dazzled by the elderly making para- chute jumps.,It is not the media's role to be a presidential cheerleader. But elite Washington's pervasively negative view of Clinton seems unduly harsh and unfair. It is, simply not true that this president, for all his short- comings, is the marginaUzed washout the press says he is.,.* . rInterestingly, voters have a far more generous opinion of his performance than repxMters do.Polls show that CUnton's>aPProval rating is fairly high despite the fund-- raising controversy !and all the other scandals. In a mid^April (HN-Time,|>oli, he won the approval of V55 percentof tijose surveyed for^^ his handling of tlte national economy, 53 percent for his conduct °of) foreign' affairs and 54 percent for providing "strong leader- sjhip" in general. .\ By comparison, only 39 percent say tiiey apprfefe of the job Congress i% doing. Horrors, Can it, be that the public knows something the press does not? Some of Clinton's good marks are a reflection of the vibrant economy. Vot- ers usually give a president credit for a good economy and the blame if it'sbad, regardless of his limited ability to affect it. "The economy, stiipid," the central theme pf Clinton's 1992 cam- paign, is still operative.But the president is also a serious politician trying to affect national poli- cy gradually without scaring anyone, approaching issues incremental!^ and using the bully pulpit to press his case.In a divided government and a country in which there is little political consen-sus, this isL the only^^ sensible way to proceed. The public may understand this better than the press does. The North American ^ree Trade Agreement, for which he*"fought dili- gently, is working. His trip to ^efflcp and Central^^ America was the first steptoward developing at last a realistic working^ partnership southi of ^e bor-der to attack drug and immigtation problems. The pending expansion ofNATO, thus far being bandied smooth- ly, is poised to move global military integration* in Europe into the next century.The bipartisan volunteerism summit was a great public relations stunt and may even do some good. His -family medical leave program for workers, scorned last term as a costly boondog- gle, looks in retrospect litqe a great work-place morale .booster.Ch'nton should .also be judged by the dogs that haven't barked. Social Secu- rity and Medicare remain deferred problems, but he hasn't 6pte4 for somedangerous, untested scheme like pri- vatizing them just to look busy. Russia is a mess but hasn't exploded. Ditto the Middle East- Relations with Chinaare tense but not collapsing. In the end, the scandals that pursue Clinton may eventually bring him down. But he isn't doy^n yet He maybe governing as a pseudo-Republican, is gpverningl . • ^ , ;

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