Clinton still the slickest thing going

Bryan Nichols

Welcome to the new old world. I think this should be the sign hanging over the doors of Congress right now. As for what old world, I’m thinking Salem, Massachusetts, circa 1692. Everyone loves a good witch hunt, especially our beloved representatives in congress.Many people might think all of the witch-hunting muscles in our congressmen should be worn out. Everyone needs a break; it only makes sense that now would be an ideal time to take one. After all, the witch has been vanquished, right? Clinton’s out, Bush is in. Let’s all go eat some pumpkin pie.It seems, though, that our congressmen have superior witch-hunting stamina. Just yesterday, the Senate began its hearing into President Clinton’s pardon of fugitive Mark Rich, following in the footsteps of the House, which last week started its own hearing into the same matter.Many of you may have questions. Who is Mark Rich? What did he do? Why did Clinton pardon him? Why do we care about it? What’s that smell? For those of you who have these questions, worry not, because I have answers.Mark Rich, who couldn’t have a more perfect name, is a billionaire financier who is accused of, among other things, tax evasion, fraud, racketeering and possibly fathering Richie. If he doesn’t sound like a great guy, it’s probably because he’s not. Rich also has been an international fugitive since he fled the country in 1983. Clinton pardoned Rich and 139 others on his last day in office. Presidential pardons have always been a nice little perk of being the most powerful man on earth and usually they aren’t questioned much. Of course, that’s until Clinton started making them.Clinton, the man who just can’t avoid controversy, dropped right into it again. Apparently Denise Rich, Mark Rich’s wife, is a big Democratic donor. She’s donated more than one million dollars. The Republicans in Congress smell something fishy, and have decided to start looking into the question of whether or not Rich bought his own pardon.The Republicans may smell something fishy. I smell something different. It reeks of partisanship. It stinks a lot like, well, the impeachment trials and Whitewater. To get back to my earlier analogy, it smells a lot like a witch hunt.Clinton should be used to it by now. He’s been hunted for most of his eight years in office. How much has he been hunted? Well, try to think of every Bill Clinton scandal since he started running for 1992. Use your fingers; I bet you’ll run out. Clinton is the man Republicans love to hate. I’m not completely sure why. Judging by his actions in office, I was pretty sure he was one of them. But yet the attempts to vilify him go on.It’s reached the point where it’s almost humorous. Just Sunday, Senator Arlen Specter suggested trying to re-impeach Clinton, who, in case you have been living in a cave, is not in office any more. If this isn’t a new level of persecution, I don’t know what is.There’s not a lot of support for re-impeachment, even among other Republicans. However, many people want Clinton to come testify before the Senate and explain himself. Specter even wants to pass a constitutional amendment that would allow congress to override presidential pardons.To an average observer, this just seems awfully personal by now. For some Republicans, I think it may be. They want to get Clinton. Why? Because they haven’t been able to yet. Clinton’s managed to slip out of every accusation that’s been made. He had his law license revoked for five years, but that’s about all. He’s smoother than warm butter rolling off Rosie O’Donnell’s back. Republicans hate him for that.I figure it’s time to stop all the hating and persecuting, though. While Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich may seem unethical, there’s almost no chance of any criminal charges being brought or really anything changing at all. Unless the memo portions of Denise Rich’s checks said, “Fat checks for pardons,” Clinton should be fine. Even our new president George W. Bush, trying out a new role as voice of reason, has said that it’s “time to move on” from talk of Clinton’s pardon and get onto more important matters, like ruining the environment and giving tax breaks to the rich. While I don’t agree with his politics, I definitely agree with Bush on his sentiment for moving on. America has been mired long enough in partisan name-calling and vilification. Anyway, Bush has some personal interest in this. Reagan got out of scandals because no one assumed he was smart enough to know what was going on. Clinton got out of them by being smart enough to manipulate everyone involved. If the atmosphere of persecution continues, Bush may not have either option.Bryan Nichols is a senior in genetics from Burnsville, Minn.