The far right sees some real skeletons in Clinton's closet

May 25, 1994|By MIKE LITTWIN

The man sits in front of a camera. He's wearing a red sweater and a down-home smile. He talks to us in soft, reassuring tones from a videotape produced by Jerry Falwell, the evangelist who would save America from itself, or at least from Bill Clinton.

The man in the sweater does not seem like a nut case. At least, not immediately.

His name is Larry Nichols. He's from Arkansas. He is, to put it in the nicest terms, Clinton's enemy. That's probably a fair description of someone who basically accuses you of murder.

That's right. Anyone can accuse the president of womanizing -- I mean, who hasn't? -- and Nichols surely can't resist himself. But it takes a special kind of person to throw murder into the mix.

Clinton has lots of enemies. You just have to take a run through the AM-radio dial to find them and all the anti-Clinton bile they cough up on the talk shows. Clinton-bashing is as American as Rush Limbaugh.

But Nichols takes the concept to a different level. He was anti-Clinton before there was an anti-Clinton movement. A former Arkansas state employee, Nichols filed a lawsuit against Clinton in 1990, making an assortment of charges, including chasing women on company time.

He was around during the 1992 election, feeding reporters who came to Arkansas all the anti-Clinton material they could swallow.

Now, with help from Falwell's Liberty Alliance, he has upped the ante. Radio isn't good enough. Neither are your right-wing newsletters. Video is the medium of our time, as any TV evangelist could tell you.

And for 43 bucks, Nichols comes directly to you on a video called "Clinton's Circle of Power." Yes, I know that for 43 bucks you can buy copies of "Jurassic Park" and "Aladdin" and have enough left over for a couple of Happy Meals.

But you get your money's worth with this tape. Believe me. You get up close and personal with a smear campaign. You get to see the get-Clinton boys at their get-down-and-dirty best. It makes you proud to be an American. In a lot of other countries, they'd lock these people up.

You see, Nichols doesn't simply catalog the bimbo explosions or quote Arkansas state troopers or call Clinton a pathological liar. No, sir. He also flatly states that Hillary Clinton and Vince Foster were lovers. Then he accuses them of insider trading.

Of course, he believes Foster was murdered. You can hear that anywhere on the right-wing media circuit. Just like you can hear that Whitewater special prosecutor Robert Fiske, although a Republican, is a Clinton stooge.

But Nichols is just getting warmed up. Right before he implies that Clinton might have some connection to a drug-smuggling ring, he strongly suggests Clinton may have been involved in what he calls -- get ready -- countless murders.

Here's the quote fresh from the tape, which may not be the "Manchurian Candidate" but is still your basic paranoid vision of America: "People are dead in Arkansas. When I started this, I knew that I might be one of those unsolved mysteries in Arkansas.

"There are boys on railroad tracks. There are countless and countless people who mysteriously died that, as it turned out, had some connection to Bill Clinton. I believe this is going on today."

This is when you hit the stop button on your remote. This is when you either laugh or throw something at the screen. This is when you say to yourself, "OK, Bill Clinton may not be everything I wanted in a president, but I'm pretty sure he's not Billy the Kid."

In fact, if you judge Clinton by his enemies, suddenly he looks like Abe Lincoln. Whenever I get down on the guy, I just jam the video into the VCR and, within five minutes, I'm ready to re-elect.

Ask yourself: Are you ready to believe any of this? Murder? Drug smuggling? Slush funds? Is this Bill Clinton we're talking about or Manuel Noriega?

What's real and what's propaganda? And just how far will Clinton's enemies go?

Falwell wants to have it both ways. He produces the tape. He appears at the end of it and implores "God-fearing" people to write their members of Congress and demand full hearings.

But when asked on CNN if he believed Clinton was a murderer, Falwell said, "We're simply saying these charges are being made, look at them and determine what is true. I am making no charges whatsoever."

You know, it's too bad Falwell missed out on the McCarthy era. Of course, McCarthy missed out on VCRs.

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