Skip to comments.Clinton doesn't forget friends ... or enemies
Posted on 06/15/2003 5:10:49 AM PDT by RJCogburn
BILL CLINTON's true distinguishing characteristic was his need to be loved. Even though he made more than his fair share of enemies, he believed that with time enough and half a chance, he could win over just about anybody.
His ability to connect with audiences during his speeches and his deep need, almost an obsession, to work the rope line afterward were manifestations of this.
Perhaps it is what drove him. Perhaps it drives him still.
Often when Presidents leave office, they want to settle old scores. Not Bill Clinton. He not only wants to make new friends, he wants to convert old enemies.
This occurred to me when I read a recent story in the New York Daily News headlined, "Clinton stands up for Times editor." The story said Clinton had called New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. to plead for the job of Howell Raines.
Raines, the executive editor of the paper, and his managing editor, Gerald Boyd, resigned this month in the wake of revelations of journalistic improprieties by two Times reporters.
According to the Daily News, Clinton told Sulzberger that Raines' departure was "too severe" and "unwarranted." Clinton reportedly also "acknowledged his past differences with Raines' views."
Which is putting it mildly. Raines was the editor of the Times editorial page when Clinton was President, and he wrote editorials so stinging that Mike McCurry, then the White House spokesman, once told me on the record and I printed it that Raines was "psychotic."
(Which was the first hint I got that McCurry was planning to leave the White House. Press secretaries who are planning to stay at the White House do not go around calling New York Times editorial page editors psychotic even if they are.)
There are scores of examples that demonstrate how tough Raines was on Clinton, but a single editorial perhaps the most extraordinary The New York Times has ever published about a President sums it up.
It appeared on Dec. 16, 1998, a few days before the House voted to impeach Clinton. It was a difficult editorial to write because even though the editorial board had been scathing in its view of Clinton, it did not think he should be impeached.
The editorial begins by saying Clinton was a "man blessed with great talent and afflicted with a mysterious passion for lying." Then it begins talking about "Mr. Clinton's ugly little lies, his abject failure to lead by example and to speak truthfully to the American people, his equally dismal failure to honor the historic residence entrusted to him, and his abandonment of his constitutional duty to defend and uphold the law. He is, in sum, a man you cannot trust whether you have his handshake, his signature or his word on a Bible."
The editorial goes on to talk about Clinton's "mendacity," but it also warns that the House vote "will be setting precedents by which the nation will be governed when this Presidency is a memory as distant and distasteful as that of Warren G. Harding."
It also calls Clinton's term in office the "most disappointing White House tenure since that of Richard Nixon" and describes Clinton as "wrapped in dishonor, his face a mask of depression. . . "
But my favorite line, and this shows why Raines was such a wonderful writer (though, admittedly, there was room to disagree with what he was writing), was the sentence that followed the argument that the transfer of power between Presidents in this country has to be orderly and not by a politically charged vote in the House.
"That transfer of power without gunfire or legislative chicanery is the jewel in the crown of American democracy," the editorial said. "It should not be sacrificed over Bill Clinton's inability to resist looking at thong underwear."
Pow! Right between the eyes!
Even people who had wanted Clinton to resign, such as Timothy Noah of Slate, wrote that this editorial showed Raines' "pathological hatred" of Bill Clinton.
So what happens? Less than five years later, Clinton is the most beloved figure in the Democratic Party (admittedly the competition is not fierce) and Howell Raines is out of work.
But who comes to Raines' defense? Bill Clinton!
Why? Because Bill Clinton still trying to win Raines over, still trying to get some love. And something else. A lesson from yet another President, Abraham Lincoln.
"The best way to destroy an enemy," Lincoln once said, "is to make him a friend."
I used to cock an ear and wait for him to tell a truth, but it took about five or six years, and when it happened, it seemed so trivial I almost missed it. What he said was (I think), "I was hungry so I had something to eat." Or it may have been, "I was tired so I went to bed." One of those. Half an hour later, I sat bolt upright and realized he'd spoken a truth. I was so surprised that I reported it in a column I was writing at the time.
Presidents settle old scores when they are in the White House and have the power.
Once out of power they usually quietly leave the stage and enjoy old friends and golf.
Clintoon has been like a bad case of herpes on America. He flares up from time to time and just won't go away!
LOL! A good analogy...painful, too.
I mean, he never accused talk radio of causing the OKC bombing, did he? He never said that the rich didn't deserve tax cuts, did he? He never accused President Bush of being a frat boy with a rich daddy who thought the presidency was owed him, now did he?
Obviously, when these statements along with many similar ones were made, I just didn't understand. He was simply looking for my love and approval, and not attacking people whom I respect. Silly me.
One of those potential witnesses was an engineer from Loral, who was scheduled to testify before a congressional/senate committee regarding the transfer of sensitive secrets to China. Kearn A. Cottingham was found dead of "natural causes", but most likely RICIN poisoning. The records were expunged and local police in Palo Alto were unable to locate them when asked.
I felt SICK and DIRTY after watchng Clinton on LKL for 10 seconds last night.
Every time I read about Clinton taking pot shots agaings GWB I have to laugh -- at least GWB KNOWS WHO HIS DADDY IS!!!! That's certainly more than Clinton can say.