By Tyrrell, R. Emmett, Jr.
The American Spectator , Vol. 30, No. 11
Chairman Dan Burton's House Government Reform and Oversight Committee has begun its hearings into fund-raising abuses in the last presidential campaign. With a wider mandate, more money, and no pressing time limit, Burton's inquiry doubtless will be probing into a larger pile of the Clinton administration's garbage than Senator Fred Thompson's Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. And so the diabolizing of Burton has resumed. I shall watch it with the same fascination I had for polite Washington's effort to transform the gentlemanly President George Bush into an unscrupulous partisan pol raging for electoral triumph and the broken bones of anyone who might oppose him.
George is in retirement now, and no charges of homicide have been filed against him. He is a member of no hate group aside from the Republican Party. He is not under psychiatric treatment. He is, however, remembered as a shocking opponent of the party of reform, composed as it is of the self-proclaimed "people of conscience." That is to say the Democratic Party. My colleague in the syndicated column racket, the eminent Paul Greenberg, reminds us that in the last days of the 1992 presidential campaign the Democrats, led by that paragon of reform, Al Gore, tarred Bush with something then dubbed "Iraqgate." It was a conspiracy of heinous proportions with the foul Bush pulling all the strings. Well, no one can remember Iraqgate now, and, as I say, the foul Bush is in mellow retirement.
And so now it is time to diabolize Burton, lest he bring down on this country all the horrors that Bush brought. Yet, who among Washington's elites really knows anything about Burton, an eight-term Republican from a congressional district in faraway Indiana? Do they know about his intellectual achievements? All the Washington wisenheimers are quick to repeat that Burton attended a seminary but never got a college degree. Fine, neither did Disraeli or Harry Truman. But do they know that Burton plays Bach on the piano and reads the classics, some in Latin? Do they know that he has meticulously restored a nineteenth-century farm house in a quiet Indiana village, relying mostly on his own skills as a carpenter and mason? Have any of those Washington geniuses now sniping at Burton recognized his flowery oratory as a consequence of years of reading ancient Roman and Greek orations and studious perusal of the Bible, some of which he has translated into Latin? …