Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why We Can Never Have Another Clinton Presidency

These are dry times for conservatives like me. I see that the current tack of the Republican party (which began with the election of George W. Bush) is taking to a more mainstream course. I know that the world has changed almost immeasurably since 1980, and that those that long for the second coming of Ronald Reagan both do not know what they want and would not accept it if it came.

I have my strong doubts about Obama. He lacks executive experience and will rely on teams of advisers. Who are these advisers? Perhaps they should be making policy speeches.

But in all this there is to me one constant: There can never be another Clinton in the White House.

Many Clinton haters will to this day gas on and on about the Rose Law firm and Whitewater billing records. These issues display in the Clintons a small-minded meanness.

Others will cite the White House Travel Office scandal. In this Hillary showed that she saw the office of the president as a a spoils machine, there to dole out plum jobs to cronies.

Others point out the trifecta of Clinton supporting the independent-counsel law; supporting and signing a law that enhanced and extended the ability of victims of sexual harassment to compel testimony; and Bill's feeling that he, as usual, was above the law.

All that pales next to the Clinton's actions in the closing days of Bill's presidency, when he released from prison 16 terrorists.

Debra Burlingame runs down some history that I am sure Hillary doen't want springing up on any of her carefully managed "listening tours" or "town halls."

On Aug. 7, 1999, the one-year anniversary of the U.S. African embassy bombings that killed 257 people and injured 5,000, President Bill Clinton reaffirmed his commitment to the victims of terrorism, vowing that he "will not rest until justice is done." Four days later, while Congress was on summer recess, the White House quietly issued a press release announcing that the president was granting clemency to 16 imprisoned members of FALN.

The FBI cracked the cases with the discovery of an FALN safe house and bomb factory... FBI agents obtained a warrant and entered the premises, surreptitiously disarming the bombs whose components bore the unmistakable FALN signature. They found 24 pounds of dynamite, 24 blasting caps, weapons, disguises, false IDs and thousands of rounds of ammunition....

Federal law enforcement agencies considered these individuals so dangerous, extraordinary security precautions were taken at their numerous trials. Courthouse elevators were restricted and no one, including the court officers, was permitted to carry a firearm in the courtroom.

Given all this, why would Bill Clinton, who had ignored the 3,226 clemency petitions that had piled up on his desk over the years, suddenly reach into the stack and pluck out these 16 meritless cases? (The New York Times ran a column with the headline, "Bill's Little Gift.")

Hillary Rodham Clinton was in the midst of her state-wide "listening tour" in anticipation of her run for the U.S. Senate in New York, a state which included 1.3 million Hispanics. Three members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus -- Luis V. Gutierrez (D., Ill.), Jose E. Serrano, (D., N.Y.) and Nydia M. Velazquez, (D., N.Y.) -- along with local Hispanic politicians and leftist human-rights advocates, had been agitating for years on behalf of the FALN cases directly to the White House and first lady.

Initial reports stated that Mrs. Clinton supported the clemencies, but when public reaction went negative she changed course, issuing a short statement three weeks after the clemencies were announced. The prisoners' delay in refusing to renounce violence "speaks volumes," she said.

The Clintons were caught in an awkward predicament of their own making. The president had ignored federal guidelines for commutation of sentences, including the most fundamental: The prisoners hadn't actually asked for clemency.

To push the deal through, signed statements renouncing violence and expressing remorse were required by the Justice Department. The FALN prisoners, surely relishing the embarrassment and discomfiture they were causing the president and his wife, had previously declined to accept these conditions. Committed and unrepentant militants who did not accept the authority of the United States, they refused to apologize for activities they were proud of in order to obtain a clemency they never requested.

So desperate was the White House to get the deal finalized and out of the news, an unprecedented 16-way conference call was set up for the "petitioners" who were locked up in 11 different federal facilities so that they could strategize a response to the president's offer. Two eventually refused to renounce their cause, preferring to serve out their lengthy sentences rather than follow the White House script.

Mr. Clinton's fecklessness in the handling of these cases was demonstrated by the fact that none of the prisoners were required, as a standard condition of release, to cooperate in ongoing investigations of countless unsolved FALN bombing cases and other crimes. Mrs. Clinton's so-called disagreement with her husband on the matter made no mention of that fact. The risk of demanding such a requirement, of course, was that the prisoners might have proudly implicated themselves, causing the entire enterprise to implode, with maximum damage to the president and potentially sinking Hillary Clinton's Senate chances.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rican politicians in New York who'd been crowing to their constituents about the impending release of these "freedom fighters" were enraged and insulted at Hillary Clinton's withdrawal of support. "It was a horrible blunder," said State Sen. Olga A. Mendez. "She needs to learn the rules."
I don't think that we need to doubt that Hillary has learned the rules.

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