Clinton lied, so why should we believe him on raids?

August 23, 1998|By GREGORY KANE

EARLY LAST week, President Clinton went before the American people and said that he had "misled" them.

Make it plainer, Mr. President. You lied. Don't try to euphemize it. You just plain lied.

Not that Clinton's the most flagrant liar ever to sit in the Oval Office. He's got some pretty tall prevaricating to measure up to. The two most notorious are Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. One Democrat and one Republican. One liberal and one conservative. How's that for bipartisanship?

Johnson made a campaign promise in 1964 that he would not send additional troops to help prop up the pathetic government of South Vietnam.

"We're not going to send American boys thousands of miles away to do what Asian boys should be doing for themselves," Johnson said, looking the American people straight in the eye.

Johnson eventually sent in 500,000 American "boys." Nearly 60,000 were killed. In 1965, he went before Congress and asked for what became the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, claiming that North Vietnamese PT boats had attacked U.S. Navy ships. No such attack occurred, but Johnson got his resolution. Later, Ernest Gruening, a U.S. senator from Alaska, charged that Johnson had "lied and tricked the American people into this war." That was one Democrat talking about another one. Johnson lied so shamelessly that even members of his own party turned on him.

Nixon tried to subvert the democratic process and then looked the American people straight in the eye and proclaimed, "I'm not a crook." He had to resign when it was discovered he was precisely that.

Now comes Clinton, caught in a lie about exactly what it was he did with Monica Lewinsky.

"So he had sex with her in the White House," his supporters hiss, using the famous but ultimately pitiful "So what?" defense. "Why should we care?"

Because the White House is not Bill Clinton's house. It's our house -- the American people's. It belongs to us. If Clinton wants to engage in hanky-panky with Lewinsky or anyone else, he can do what any common john cruising America's streets for prostitutes does: take her to a motel. Apparently, Clinton's not only a liar. He's too damn cheap to take his mistresses to a motel. But we pay the man $200,000 a year. It's not like he didn't have the money.

Last Thursday, Clinton was on television again, telling the American people that he had ordered bombing raids on terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan and on a "factory in Sudan associated with the [Osama] bin Laden network [that] was involved in the production of materials for chemical weapons." The military action was in retaliation for the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Clinton said there was "high confidence" the bombs were placed by a terrorist network headed by bin Laden.

Why should we believe a confessed liar? I've been to Sudan. They're past the bow and arrow stage in weapons development, but just barely. Arab militias still raid villages in the black southern Sudan from horseback. It boggles the mind to think of Sudan as a producer of materials for chemical weapons. It boggles the Sudanese mind. Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Elfatih Erwa, said the alleged chemical weapons factory was a pharmaceutical company that made antibiotics.

"It's not even within the standards of Western factories," the ambassador said. "It's a very small, humble factory that can't carry even two or three machines for antibiotics."

It's quite the pity I'm more inclined to believe the ambassador of a country that has been charged with maintaining slavery, harboring terrorists and brutally repressing dissidents among its own citizens than my own president, but I do. Erwa's description of the factory bombed is what we would expect from one of the poorest countries on the poorest continent in the world.

How did the liar in the White House justify U.S. armed forces' hurling bombs into Sudan and Afghanistan?

"There is convincing information from our intelligence community that the bin Laden terrorist network was responsible for these bombings," Clinton told the nation.

Oh? Would this be the same "intelligence community" that failed to know India was going to test nuclear weapons and, according to critics, made other major boo-boos recently? Have the American people been reduced to putting their faith in liars and boobs?

For now, we're stuck with the lot of them. Muslims, Jews, Christians and Americans of all faiths must now pray not only that the philandering prevaricator has told us the truth but that he hasn't started a round of terrorist retaliation.

Pub Date: 8/23/98

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