Magazine article The Spectator

Some Hero

Magazine article The Spectator

Some Hero

Article excerpt

New York

When Larry Lawrence died last year Bill Clinton gave the eulogy at his funeral. A true blue American hero was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, reserved for those killed in war, long-time military veterans with distinguished war records and congressmen with high military honours. His pretty blonde wife was comforted by the Draft Dodger and Hillary. The sound of taps echoed among the tombs of sacred honour. The young blonde held the folded American flag to her bosom. It was enough to make strong men cry.

Over the demise of yet another Walter Mitty, that is. Larry Lawrence - he assumed that name early on in life - was among America's 400 richest men, having made his pile in hotels and real estate. A big fund-raiser for the Democratic Party, he hit the Draft Dodger with 200,000 big ones when Clinton first ran for president in 1992. All in all, he contributed 10 million greenbacks to the Democrats. He also made his San Diego mansion available to Clinton whenever the Draft Dodger headed out west.

In 1994, the Draft Dodger nominated Lawrence as ambassador to Switzerland. Despite vigorous opposition by senators it was obvious that Clinton was selling an ambassadorship - he was confirmed because of his war record. Lawrence had been thrown into the frigid Arctic Ocean in March 1945 when the merchant marine ship SS Horace Bushnell was torpedoed by a German submarine near Murmansk. Lawrence often struggled to control his emotions when recounting the story. He almost broke down when telling it before the Senate. Ditto when the Russians gave him the medal of valour two years later.

Last week in Washington the joke was that Clinton's idea of a war veteran was a guy who had been married four times.

Lawrence was on his fourth wife when he died in January 1996. The closest he ever got to a war zone and a ship was when he went to Wilbur Wright junior college in Chicago in 1944 and 1945. With his trademark lack of gallantry, Clinton lobbied hard for a fat cat who had submitted a fraudulent tax return to avoid gift taxes and was in a tax court over an IRS claim that he owed $76 million in back taxes at the time of his ambassadorial nomination. (All services that scrutinised Larry the Liar did nothing about this because he was vouched for by the Draft Dodger. …

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