Skip to comments.9 years ago today. . .
Posted on 07/20/2002 5:25:13 AM PDT by a-whole-nother-box-of-pandoras
9 years ago today. . .
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Journalism is so biased largely because it lays so much emphasis on the threatening or unusual events of the past 24 hours. And because you have to be sympatico with that bias to want to be a journalist, it's not surprising when you go further and have an orgy of coverage of Watergate every five years.
We needn't expect to be treated to similar retrospectives of the x42 years.
Really. I think he's merely trying to cause trouble this morning.
Vincent Foster's death has confounded the White House, says Alexander Chancellor
Times of London (UK)
July 24, 1993
The US Justice Department doesn't investigate suicides. The federal authorities are called in only when a federal crime is suspected. And with regard to the death of Vincent Foster, President Clinton's friend and legal adviser, who was found shot through the head on the banks of the Potomac River last Tuesday, there is no such suspicion. All the evidence points to suicide. An autopsy on Wednesday yielded the conclusion that the manner of his death was ''not inconsistent with that of a self-inflicted wound''. Yet, at the request of the White House, the Justice Department is investigating his death. Without any obvious statutory authority for doing so, it has said it will carry on with its investigation until it finds a reason why Mr Foster chose to kill himself.
This task, on the face of it, looks pretty hopeless. Mr Foster appears to have said or written nothing that might offer any explanation. Some friends have said he had lately seemed down about his work (he worked 12 to 14 hours a day), and possibly a little depressed. His close friend Thomas McLarty, the White House Chief of Staff, said he had been ''a little tired physically'', and didn't have quite his usual ''positive, constructive can-do attitude''.
But nobody in the White House or among his family and friends had feared even for a moment that he might commit suicide. The right-wing, Moonie-owned Washington Times said yesterday that it had been looking into a business association between Mr Foster and Hillary Clinton when they were close friends and partners in a law practice in Little Rock, Arkansas, but it had not got close to publishing anything and it had not approached Mr Foster about the matter. He had also been criticised recently by The Wall Street Journal for belonging to a supposedly over-powerful clique of Hillary's Arkansan cronies within the administration. But these are not the kind of pressures that should drive a cool, experienced litigation lawyer to suicide. Given the absence of any note, and the failure of searches of his home and office to produce any clues at all, it is easier to agree with President Clinton when he says that the reason for his death will never be known.
What, then, is the point of Justice Department's investigation? The answer is not hard to guess. If there was no foul play (and the Justice Department has not yet formally ruled out the possibility of murder), a death like Mr Foster's would usually be considered a private family matter, but a suicide in the White House is such a rare and remarkable event that it inevitably arouses huge interest and speculation. The interest in Mr Foster's death is all the greater because of his life-long friendship with the president they had known each other since kindergarten and his later, even closer friendship with Hillary, whose pistachio nuts he used to keep in his office at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock and ration out to her so she didn't get too fat. He may have been only number two in the White House legal office, but his relationship with the Clintons meant he had far more influence than the job itself might suggest.
He had, for example, been closely involved in a number of recent presidential disasters, ranging from botched nominations to the Clinton cabinet to the White House "travelgate" fiasco. For such reasons, should be thorough and convincing. "The American public is entitled to know if Mr Foster's death was somehow connected with his high office," the newspaper said.
The White House, which has been shaken to its foundations by the tragedy, must be hoping that investigators will uncover some strictly personal reason for Mr Foster's despair, but there is nothing to go on yet. He was, by all accounts, a devoted family man, who wouyld complain about how little time he spent with his wife and children. He appeared to have no personal insecurities, having sailed triumphantly through college and his law exams to become one of the most successful lawyers in the South, earning nearly $300,000 a year before taking a large salary cut to follow Mr Clinton to Washington. He was only 48 years old, an accomplished athlete, and perceived by everyone as a cool, confident man whose ambitions had been crowned with extraordinary success. So why did he do it? "Try to remember," Mr Clinton said when he addressed his staff shortly after Mr Foster's death, "that work cannot be the only thing in life." Was this his way of implying that Mr Foster's work could have had nothing to do with his death?
Perhaps it hadn't anyway, but the suicide if that's what it was, and whatever its motives may have been was an immensely cruel blow for an intimate friend and colleague to deliver to a troubled president. The blow is hardest of course, for Mr Foster's wife and children, but Mr Clinton's shock and unhappiness have been obvious for all to see. It has been so hurtful to him both personally and politically that it almost looks like some mysterious act of revenge.
"This will have affected the president more than anything else that has happened here in the last six months," an unnamed Clinton aide told The Washington Post, which went on to describe it as "a cosmic kick in the stomach".
Mr Foster's death is certainly far more disorientating even than the political furore over gays in the military, the mess-ups over presidential nominations, the set-backs for the president's economic package, and the fuss of his Los Angeles airport haircut. Mr Foster was at the centre of a tight-lipped band of arkansan trusties, struggling together with their friends the Clintons to defend the presidency against a hostile press and Congress and an increasingly disillusioned public.
And now he has been ripped away from them in a particularly horrible and mysterious fashion and at a moment when the storms seemed finally to be subsiding.
Mr McLarty, another member of the Arkansas group, would not discuss his feelings with the press, but chose to issue a written statement. "My heart is broken," it said. It could well be he was not exagerating.
Copyright 1993 Times Newspapers Limited The Times
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