Arafat and the Clintons Go Shopping

It’s no longer any secret that Bill and Hillary Clinton,

whatever ideals they may have held in their younger days, now feel entitled to

any extra money, jewelry or furniture that comes their way, no matter how

tainted the source. And they are quite willing to exchange favors in return:

witness the pardoning of Marc Rich, whose

ex-wife Denise knew how to come up with the big money at the right moment.

Now it turns out that Yasir Arafat may be added to the disturbingly long list

of those who realized that the Clintons are “rentable” politicians. Government

documents filed in the Federal Register show

that last year, the Palestinian leader and terrorism supporter gave President

Clinton and his wife gifts valued at more than $12,000, including gold and

diamond necklaces, bracelets and earrings worth $7,400.

One would like to assume that Mr. and Mrs. Clinton did not

keep every piece of jewelry: Federal employees are forbidden to keep gifts worth

more than $960. But given the fact that the former First Couple fled the White

House with more than a few questionable items-which they were forced to

return-would anyone be surprised if Mrs. Clinton was wearing some of Mr.

Arafat’s baubles in the Senate? The Palestinian leader is apparently quite the

shopper: He also gave jewelry worth $17,400 to Mr. Clinton’s Secretary of

State, Madeleine Albright. Mr. Arafat’s Israeli counterparts chose not to

deluge the First Family with trinkets: Last year, Israeli Knesset member (and

now Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon gave the Clintons two antique maps worth a

modest $500.

No one can know what influence, if any, Mr. Arafat’s gifts

had on Mr. Clinton’s Middle East policy. But the pardons have shown that Mr.

and Mrs. Clinton are chillingly good at rewarding those who reward them. The

Clintons’ relationship with Mr. Arafat has always been cozy: He was a frequent

White House guest, and his wife, Suha Arafat, received a hearty kiss and

embrace from Mrs. Clinton moments after Mrs. Arafat finished a speech in which

she accused the Israelis of gassing Palestinian children.

One has to hand it to the Clintons: They believe in

equal-opportunity greed. They will take money and luxury goods from anyone,

regardless of ideology and morality.

 

The Parents Blew It

The Edison Project will

not be coming to New York, after all. A proposal to have the company take over

five poorly performing public schools was rejected because the parents in the

affected schools couldn’t be bothered. The Board of Education left it to the

parents to decide on the privatization program, but the board stipulated that

Edison would have to win 50 percent plus 1 of all parents, not just those who

voted.

Fewer than 2,000 of the 5,000 affected parents cast votes.

And so this promising, innovative proposal comes to an end. The children in the

five schools have been let down again. This time, however, the blame cannot be

placed on the shoulders of some impersonal bureaucracy; the Board of Education,

after all, was willing to go along with Edison’s bold proposal. No, this time

the parents who didn’t vote, the teachers’ union and the self-styled community activists who opposed Edison are to

blame.

Watching innovation die a death of a thousand slanders was a

depressing spectacle. How to explain the parents who insisted that racism was

at work in Edison’s proposal? “Why don’t they go to white people’s schools and

try this?” said one mother of a child in Brooklyn’s Middle School 246. “Why do

they have to try it with black and Hispanic people?” A more ridiculous argument

could hardly be imagined-the Board of Education looked at reading and math

scores, not demographic data, in deciding which schools might be privatized. If

a school in a white neighborhood had been among the five worst-performing

schools, it would have been included in the Edison proposal.

As luck would have it, one of Edison’s most vocal opponents

was the community group ACORN, which delights in shouting “race” on any matter

of political controversy. ACORN told parents that Edison would start charging

tuition, an out-and-out lie. But ACORN and its ilk weren’t interested in the

truth or in education reform. They’re

happy with the status quo; it makes them feel so very victimized.

In the meantime, don’t ask what will become of the children

that Edison may have helped. They were never the issue, anyway.

 

An Indecent Decency

Panel

With less than a year left in City Hall, it seems Mayor

Rudolph Giuliani just can’t stop himself from reminding New Yorkers of the less

appealing aspects of his character-specifically, his tendency to play the

schoolmarm who knows what’s best for everyone. His recent decision to create a

“decency panel” which will pass judgment on art in publicly financed museums

shows that Mr. Giuliani at times still has a profound misunderstanding of the

city he has led for eight years.

Fighting crime is one

thing; fighting evil in the form of art is simply bizarre. New York is

the world’s cultural capital, where all residents benefit from a milieu that encourages innovation in art, theater, music, dance

and literature. Yes, lousy art does find its way into our museums-art that

offends not only religious sensibilities but also aesthetic standards. The

Mayor has a right-possibly even a duty-to publicly confront the curator, the

museum board and the artist. But instead, Mr. Giuliani is apparently willing to

risk ridicule by going ahead with his commission. And so he has dialed up a

bunch of cronies, including his divorce lawyer Raoul Felder and his Parks Commissioner

Henry Stern, and asked them to sit on the panel, along with a rabbi, a minister

and about a dozen others. Mr. Giuliani says this preposterous panel will bring

“common sense” to the matter of publicly financed art.

The Mayor should realize that New Yorkers do not want him to

protect them from dangerous paintings. Unfortunately, he seems to have a

difficult time distinguishing between art, crime and the Sanitation Department.

Arafat and the Clintons Go Shopping