Tuesday, May 20, 1997

Pacific Stars And Stripes

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Page: 12

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Pacific Stars And Stripes (Newspaper) - May 20, 1997, Tokyo, Japan •/•::-V :/£••;•/AMD STRIPES TUESDAY, WBY WnuAM'SAFisE; , * /•",. . ... " . . .' • . V • -. o • • . . 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 whichmight cause HuBbellto spill the beans on^lutewater bribery.r But Jeff Gejth and Steve Labaton of TheTimes blew that line out of the-water by re-vealing that Clinton's personal lawyer, DavidKendall, and the Clintons' commodity bene-factor, James Blair, were both profoundlyaware of what deep trouble Hubbell was hiwhile he was still associate attorney general.During those eighkt months befojfe Hubbellwa^ forced to plead guilty, to fratid, nearly ahalf million dollars flowed into his pocket, ashe 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 theClintons — even as those aides were gettingthe crook to resign. uHow does the White House-handle exposureof this tissue of lies about what the .presidentknew and when he knew it? The fallback fudgeis that neither Clinton was fully apprised ofwhat Kendall and Blair had learned.That clanks false, It's more reasonable toassume the Clintons were warned^time andagain of their closest associate's deep trouble,and of the need to jsteer han 'heavy fees tokeep 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 whenWhite House counsel Jack Qumn last year wasfaced 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 publiclypal^ lawyers it was secretly fighting hi courtto withhold from the independent counsel onspurious grounds of privilege. The ijouse ofRepresentatives now discovers^ Jt^as bee»hoodwinked •— treated with utmost contempt.4. Contempt of underlings. After turningover some of #ie notes taken by governmentlawyers rof meetings wfth subordinateB, as re- aPProvalrating is fairly high despite the fund--raising controversy !and all the otherscandals. In a mid^April (HN-Time,|>oli, he won the approval of V55 percentof tijose surveyed for^^ his handling oftlte national economy, 53 percent forhis conduct °of) foreign' affairs and 54percent for providing "strong leader-sjhip" in general. .\ By comparison, only 39 percent saytiiey apprfefe of the job Congress i%doing.Horrors, Can it, be that the publicknows something the press does not?Some of Clinton's good marks are areflection of the vibrant economy. Vot-ers usually give a president credit fora good economy and the blame if it'sbad, regardless of his limited ability toaffect it. "The economy, stiipid," thecentral theme pf Clinton's 1992 cam-paign, is still operative.But the president is also a seriouspolitician trying to affect national poli-cy gradually without scaring anyone,approaching issues incremental!^ andusing the bully pulpit to press his case.In a divided government and a countryin which there is little political consen-sus, this isL the only^^ sensible way toproceed. The public may understandthis better than the press does.The North American ^ree TradeAgreement, for which he*"fought dili-gently, is working. His trip to ^efflcpand Central^^ America was the first steptoward developing at last a realisticworking^ partnership southi of ^e bor-der to attack drug and immigtationproblems. The pending expansion ofNATO, thus far being bandied smooth-ly, is poised to move global militaryintegration* in Europe into the nextcentury.The bipartisan volunteerism summitwas a great public relations stunt andmay even do some good. His -familymedical leave program for workers,scorned last term as a costly boondog-gle, looks in retrospect litqe a greatwork-place morale .booster.Ch'nton should .also be judged by thedogs that haven't barked. Social Secu-rity and Medicare remain deferredproblems, but he hasn't 6pte4 for somedangerous, untested scheme like pri-vatizing them just to look busy. Russiais a mess but hasn't exploded. Dittothe Middle East- Relations with Chinaare tense but not collapsing.In the end, the scandals that pursueClinton may eventually bring himdown. But he isn't doy^n yet He maybe governing as a pseudo-Republican,is gpverningl . •^ ,