To: Robert L. Bartley, WSJ editorial page editor
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Constitution did work
In his press remarks last week, President Clinton made the assertion that he was completely vindicated on the Whitewater scandal. I know it is hard for you to admit it. There is nobody in the world who devoted more time and energy and political capital than you in trying to nail Clinton over those real-estate dealings. How many editorials did you write from 1993 to 1999? At least a few hundred. All that Ken Starr could come up with was Monica. When Clinton says he saved the Constitution by beating the impeachment rap, there is something to what he says. I’m satisfied with the outcome. Does this mean you should be sorry for the role you played? Not at all. Someone had to do that on behalf of the global electorate, and you stepped up to the plate and did it with all the intelligence at your command. The fact is, though, that Bill Clinton was innocent of the things of which you believed him guilty. He was clearly guilty of others, but nothing that the Constitutional process ultimately judged worthy of removal from office.
Very early in the unfolding Whitewater story, I came to the conclusion that Clinton was innocent of all that stuff. I could see him as the kind of man who had absolutely no interest in money. None. He had different passions, one for women and one for public “love” of his performance on their behalf. I’ve had a great many differences of opinion with him on public policy, but I never have believed he did anything corrupt that involved money. It is like Juan Miguel Gonzalez said about charges that he beat his wife and Elian: “It is not my style,” and you know it when he says it. Hillary is another story, but also not grasping. I know of many men who will be principled... until a big bunch of money is involved. Clinton has been an open book for the last eight years, and we should acknowledge that whatever trimming he does did not involve the kind that enriched Lyndon Johnson, for example, in getting those TV licenses.
I remind you that I opposed Clinton’s impeachment.... until I learned that he was willing to destroy Monica’s life by having Sid Blumenthal et al. broadcast the news that she was making up stories about him after he rebuffed her advances. I would have voted for impeachment if I were in the Senate, on those grounds alone. But it was an awfully close call, and I was not unhappy that he squeaked through. I did worry a bit about how a President Gore might screw up our peace and prosperity. So I can appreciate Clinton’s remarks last week. He is now fighting again for his life, in a historic sense. I’m not going to suggest that you write an editorial saying you were wrong and he was right. There may be more surprises down the line which will tilt against him. I’m thinking if he behaved the way he did with Monica, he may have made deeper mistakes for which history will reduce him. But maybe not. Right now, though, I would recommend you pay as little attention to him as possible, and swing your attention around to the politics of the future.