Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Abuse of Power Is Focus of Inquiry

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Abuse of Power Is Focus of Inquiry

Article excerpt

The question defenders of the Clintons keep asking is: Why are you harping on some obscure financial transaction from the 1980s on which the couple lost money?

It's a question that deserves an answer. In the first place, the term "Whitewater" has come to cover a series of shady practices and possibly illegal doings in Little Rock, not just one land deal. Because the culture of that city (like some other state capitals) seems to have been one of the wealthy stroking the powerful and vice versa, it is useful to know whether the president who promised the "most ethical administration in history" was actually engaged in illegal or unethical conduct. As for the loss of money, that is a red herring. As my colleague James Glassman succinctly put it, "If someone gives me 50,000 shares of GE for nothing and GE subsequently goes broke - that doesn't mean I have not received a gift."

The Clinton version of the Whitewater land deal is quite like their version of the cattle futures deal - nice wealthy people simply gave the Clintons valuable assets out of the goodness of their hearts.

But the ethical cloud enveloping the Clinton administration now is based not just on questions about the sleazy practices common in Little Rock. It is based also on the behavior of the first couple in the White House.

That is the true significance of the David Watkins memo, released recently. That memo, combined with the lightning acquittal of Billy R. Dale, former chief of the White House travel office, reveals an administration that is willing to abuse power quite shamelessly - and possibly illegally.

Yes, the Watkins memo reveals Mrs. Clinton to have lied when she claimed, through her lawyers, that "she had no role in the decision to terminate the employees." But it reveals something else as well.

The official White House story on the travel office has always rested upon the claim that all seven of the employees were terminated because the accounting firm of Peat Marwick had found financial irregularities (the White House later backtracked somewhat, finding other government jobs for five of the seven; one retired). …

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