Bill Clinton, Dupe of the KGB?

October 09, 1992

Clinton toured Moscow at war's peak

Clinton does not recollect much of trip

As Clinton toured, Moscow shunned Perot

Bush: Clinton should tell all about Moscow

* * * The four headlines quoted above were bannered in the right-wing Washington Times on Oct. 5, 6, 7 and 8. They represent the latest Republican foray into the ungentle art of negative campaigning, a euphemism for slinging mud with abandon. Having just about wrung the cloth dry on Bill Clinton as skirt-chaser and draft-skirter, the Bush team came up with the specter of Bill Clinton as peacenik organizer, USA trasher and dupe of the KGB.

Never one to be squeamish under duress, President Bush joined in the fun by questioning his opponent's patriotism and promising he would have more later on this juicy subject. The gist of the latest GOP dirt-bomb is as follows: Twenty-three years ago, Bill Clinton, as a student at Oxford, helped organize or at least took part in anti-war demonstrations on foreign soil and then visited Moscow at a time when tourists were routinely escorted by guides working for the KGB. In addition, pages are mysteriously missing from the Clinton passport file at the State Department. Wow!

At the pinnacle of his presidency, when Iraqi forces were on the run, Mr. Bush proclaimed that the "Vietnam syndrome" was a thing of the past. Little did he know that he, a World War II hero, would soon be facing an opponent a generation younger who opposed the Vietnam war, avoided military service and took part in anti-war protests. And so, the "Vietnam syndrome" is back, with all the wrenching questions that tortured the nation during the horrible conflict.

Was it the higher patriotism to support the war policy of the Johnson-Nixon administrations ("my country right or wrong") or to oppose it as contrary to the interests and morals of the nation? Was it acceptable that young men in college should use all sorts of gimmick deferments to avoid service when less fortunate young Americans were fighting and dying in the jungles? Was it conscionable for anti-war protesters to demonstrate against their own government not only on U.S. soil but in foreign lands? Should Soviet encouragement of the anti-war movement -- probably a factor in young Mr. Clinton's ability to get a visa -- have inhibited those who opposed the war?

These questions still resonate when raised, but are they pertinent to the issues now facing America? The U.S-role in a post-Cold War world where the Communist menace is mainly a memory, the U.S. approach to economic problems that threaten the nation's security and well-being -- these are the matters that should be faced directly in the first presidential debate Sunday night. Bill Clinton not a patriot? There may be many things wrong with the Democratic nominee, but that is not one of them.

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