Diary that could be denied would be called a liary

August 07, 1994|By ROGER SIMON

WASHINGTON -- Way back in March, before he became a household name, I speculated that Joshua Steiner may not have been the sharpest knife in the drawer at the Clinton administration.

Now, after listening to Steiner testify before Congress, it turns out he wasn't even the sharpest spoon.

In fact, Steiner would have us believe he is the Forrest Gump of the Whitewater affair.

Steiner, 28, chief of staff at the Treasury Department, kept a diary in which he recorded devastating things about his bosses.

He wrote how the White House put "intense pressure" on Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman to remain in a position that could protect the White House.

Then he wrote how Altman "gracefully ducked" Senate questioning on the matter, even though Altman was under oath.

Steiner also wrote: "Every now and again you watch a disaster unfold and seem powerless to stop it."

So why does any of that make Steiner, a Yale graduate and Rhodes scholar, stupid?

Because Steiner says he is stupid. That is the only defense he has for his diary.

He says he is so stupid that he kept a diary full of things that may never have happened.

"I made no attempt to be inaccurate, but I want to be clear I was not attempting to be precise," Steiner told the Senate. "I made no attempt to check the accuracy of this diary."

But, as ex-Reagan aide Lyn Nofziger said: "If you could deny what you wrote, it'd be called a 'liary,' not a diary."

So just what can we believe of Josh Steiner's diary? And are there passages we have not yet seen?

I wonder.

Dear Diary:

Had breakfast with BC and HRC at the Oval Office in the WH this morning.

HRC had a cup of black coffee and a half-grapefruit. BC had pancakes, bacon, hash browns, sausages, grits, toast, muffins and fried eggs over easy.

When the Secret Service rolled him away from the table, he began talking about Whitewater.

BC said he was confident that he had done nothing wrong and if he had he was sure HRC had made him do it.

HRC advised him to button his lip if he didn't want to find himself back in Little Rock working in the Tastee Freeze.

HRC gave me a heads up and tasked me to redact the recusal documents ASAP before they got to the OGE.

BC asked me if there were any English muffins left.

It occurs to me that this diary may someday be subpoenaed, so as to the matter of letting Roger Clinton into the Fort Knox gold depository -- nothing.

*

Dear Diary:

Had to dress down one of the "dinosaurs" at Treasury today.

"Look," I said, "it's my way or the highway. You don't like it here, there is nothing between you and the door but thin air."

L "I'm sorry," Lloyd Bentsen said. "I must have lost my head."

"When you find it, get back to me," I said. Then I threw him out of my office.

Make a guy Secretary of the Treasury and all the sudden he thinks he is running the place!

Besides, all I wanted to do was put Kurt Cobain's picture on the $100 bill.

Some guy named Benjamin Franklin is there now. I don't think he was even president or anything. I think he invented electricity or maybe that was Albert Edison or Thomas Einstein.

To do: Call that history guy at Oxford and find out.

*

Dear Diary:

Roger Altman called and asked me the difference between "graceful ducking" and perjury. I told him 30 years.

Or maybe he never called me. Maybe this whole diary is a figment of my imagination. Or maybe the whole world is just a molecule in a giant's coffee cup. Wow. This is so heavy.

Then HRC called me and told me to destroy contents of Burn Bag Three and meet her at the regular place.

Should I put this in my diary? Probably not. But who would believe it if I did?

Also: We have sold Alaska back to Russians. But I am keeping that under my hat.

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