Bill, Hillary and Jesse: Egg Salad, Lies and Hypocrisy

Even those who admire Bill and Hillary Clinton have been

stunned by the shameless way in which the First Couple left the White House.

The last memory of the Clinton administration will always be the outrageous

pardoning of tax fugitive Marc Rich and a host of unsavory characters who

managed to win favorable treatment by backing Hillary Clinton’s Senate

candidacy. Stripped of the protective, patriotic bubble of the Presidency, Bill

and Hillary Clinton appear as they have always been, a corrupt husband-and-wife

team who have used their so-called liberal agenda to cover up a lifetime of

theft and deception, and who do not hesitate to abuse public power to enhance

their private wealth or professional agendas.

Just as the Clintons were packing their overstuffed bags, it

was reported that their sometime spiritual adviser, Jesse Jackson, had

conducted an affair with an employee (with whom he fathered a daughter) during

the time he had been counseling the Clintons about Mr. Clinton’s own affair

with Monica Lewinsky. Mr. Jackson, who has spent years denying his earlier

intimacy with anti-Semitism, may now add “fraudulent hypocrite” to his record

of achievements. 

The Clintons’ contempt for Americans’ intelligence knows no

bounds. Did they really think no one would

notice as the President snubbed Justice Department and Federal Bureau of

Investigation procedures and issued a shady, last-minute pardon to Mr. Rich, an

unrepentant tax fraud who has been living a billionaire’s life in Switzerland,

and whose ex-wife is a close friend and financial backer of the Clintons? Mr.

Clinton clearly believes his Democratic base will love him no matter how often

he betrays their trust or operates, with reckless abandon, in as trashy a

fashion as possible.

Mr. and Mrs. Clinton had more than Mr. Rich’s pardon up

their sleeve: Mr. Clinton also commuted the prison sentences of four Hasidic

men from New Square, N.Y., who created a fictitious religious school in order

to steal $40 million in government education grants. Mrs. Clinton visited New

Square during the campaign and apparently said the right thing, because the

village voted for her in overwhelming numbers. Supporters of the jailed men then

met privately with Mrs. Clinton and the President at the White House in

December, evidently to make sure the First Couple kept their end of the

bargain. Mr. Clinton did their bidding and commuted the sentences. Mrs. Clinton

expressed shock that anyone could think she had anything to do with any of

this. “I did not play any role whatsoever,” she said. “I had no opinion about

it.”

Who does she think she’s kidding? In fact, Senator Clinton’s

campaign must have needed a “special pardons unit”: The New York Times reports that Arkansas businessman Tom Bhakta,

convicted in 1991 for tax evasion, jumped ahead of thousands of other felons

seeking pardons after he and his family gave $5,000 to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign

in October.

Mr. Clinton didn’t stop there. He pardoned his brother Roger

for cocaine transgressions; he pardoned Susan McDougal of Whitewater fame; he

pardoned Edward Downe Jr., who pleaded guilty to insider trading in the 1990′s

but then had the good sense to contribute $1,000 to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign.

Like Mr. Clinton’s callous disregard for his own

constituency, Mr. Jackson assumes that African-Americans will support him at

all costs. He repays their loyalty with a narcissistic loyalty only to himself.

He solemnly announced he would be taking “time off” from public life to heal

the wounds with his wife of 38 years and their five children. Just 48 hours

later, he was back in front of the media. Apparently, a man of Mr. Jackson’s

spiritual gifts needs only two days to “heal” what most of us would regard as a

personal disaster and a humiliation to his entire family.

The pardonings may be the final, unseemly milestone of Mr.

Clinton’s Presidency. It remains to be seen how he will use his time in New

York; one can only buy so many egg salad sandwiches in Chappaqua. More

troubling is that the pardons come at the very beginning of Mrs. Clinton’s

Senate career. Taken together with her shifty $8 million book deal, the

pardoning of friends and contributors is an indication that although Bill

Clinton has left Washington, Hillary Clinton is still very much up for

sale. 

Schneiderman Stands

Up

One of the more compelling failures in recent New York

politics was the failure of Democratic State Senator Eric Schneiderman to

unseat several Republican State Senators last

fall. Rather than accept the decades-old status quo of a Republican-controlled

Senate and a Democrat-controlled Assembly, he went on a mission to dislodge

Republicans. That he did not succeed is not as important as the fact that he

tried at all, thereby showing he had the political courage to shake up the

clubby establishment in Albany. For his impudence, reported Andrea Bernstein in

last week’s Observer, the freshman

Senator is now being targeted for various types of nastiness by the G.O.P.

majority. For example, the Republicans are redrawing district boundaries, and

hint that they may assign Mr. Schneiderman’s West Side apartment to a new,

predominantly Latino district, making it difficult for him to win the primary

in 2002. If the entrenched powers in Albany are that angry at him, you can be

sure he’s doing something right. 

New Yorkers need more anti-bureaucrats with Mr.

Schneiderman’s nerve. Raised in New York City, educated at the Trinity School

and Amherst College, he worked as a deputy sheriff in Massachusetts before

attending Harvard Law School. As a partner in a New York firm, Mr. Schneiderman

remained active in pro-choice politics and served as counsel to the West Side

Crime Prevention Program, helping community groups evict drug dealers. He was

elected to the State Senate in 1998.

Mr. Schneiderman’s

scrappy refusal to observe the traditions of Albany politics may earn

him some short-term pain, but it also indicates the gritty stuff out of which

New Yorkers mold their favorite politicians.