Even Democrats Wonder

January 07, 1994|By CARL T. ROWAN

Washington -- I predicted that, after a few days of titillation, the American public would forget those Arkansas state troopers who suddenly told garish stories of Bill Clinton's alleged sexual indiscretions. U.S. voters are far from overwhelmed by bedroom tales.

But the people won't shrug off savings-and-loan manipulators and state politicians who cost them and Uncle Sam millions of dollars. Our people cut leaders a lot of slack on sexual matters, but they draw a hard line on official abuses of power, corruption, tax dodges, cover-up conspiracies and brazen stonewalling.

Joe and Jane Doe get especially suspicious and grouchy when signs and allegations of the above offenses involve the first family and the suicide of a close aide and adviser to the president and his wife, Vincent Foster Jr. The Does see best-selling novel stuff here.

President Clinton and his wife are burdened by charges that while Mr. Clinton was governor of Arkansas and she was a partner in that state's dominant Rose law firm, they had questionable if not criminal involvements with the failed Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan and its owner James McDougal. The Clintons know of the rising rumors that money from the S&L was illegally diverted into Bill's 1984 campaign for governor -- and/or into something called Whitewater Development Co., in which the Clintons had an interest.

The Clintons are aware that lawmen, the press and most of the Washington hierarchy are now saying, ''Vince Foster sure never committed suicide over critical editorials about him in the Wall Street Journal. He must have expected public developments in which he would not be able to protect either the Clintons or himself.''

I ask, as many non-enemies of the Clintons do, why the top Clinton team carried out a secret search of Mr. Foster's office, and why after an allegedly thorough search, suicide notes written by him just suddenly fell out of a briefcase? The smell of a cover-up assailed even Democratic noses.

The Clintons used to excuse themselves because they lost money on the Whitewater investment. Now people are saying that ''paper losses'' can hide an awful lot of financial chicanery.

The furor has provoked President Clinton to agree to turn over the documents taken from Mr. Foster's office and home to Justice Department career investigators and prosecutors -- but not for a couple more weeks, or after the documents have been ''cataloged'' by the Clintons' lawyers in the super-pricey D.C. criminal defense firm Williams & Connally.

Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, ranking minority member on the House Banking Committee, is shouting that Attorney General Janet Reno and her underlings cannot be counted on to investigate or prosecute vigorously the president, who is her boss. Mr. Leach wants a special counsel to go after the Clintons.

I can understand criminal lawyers advising the Clintons to hold on to the Foster papers until they are ''cataloged.'' No lawyer wants to hand a prosecutor a document that is prima facie evidence of criminal behavior. The media and the public are wondering what happens if the lawyers find incriminating papers. Do they shred or burn them? And what's being ''cataloged'' that a Justice Department lawyer can see, but must be kept from the public?

This whole convoluted mess of Arkansas financial incest and Washington skullduggery is doing egregious damage to President and Mrs. Clinton. If they feel legally and morally safe, they ought to dump all applicable documents on the White House lawn and let the lawyers, politicians, GOP marauders and the media have a fact-finding orgy.

That's the only way to get the nation to focus again soon on the critical issue of health care.

Carl T. Rowan is a syndicated columnist.

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