LIKE SOME grasping, guileful family out of William Faulkner, they left the White House with everything but the kitchen sink.
While former President Bill Clinton was negotiating a plea deal with special prosecutors, movers were helping load china, paintings, coffee tables, chairs, rugs, tapestries and antique books into boxes bound for New York. We suppose that's called "advance planning" when you know the Constitution won't let you run for a third term.
But let's try to be understanding. The Clintons do face unusual and extenuating circumstances. They must now begin to live on the economy instead of the government. Everybody knows it's hard to start from scratch.
The Clintons have campaigned all over the country. Too bad they didn't notice Nordstrom's. Or Sears. Or IKEA.
Mr. Clinton and his wife, the newly elected Democratic senator, will now pay for the gifts given to them in the last year, some $86,000 of the total take of $190,000. This will be done, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton says, to reaffirm that she is "fully committed to being the best senator I can possibly be for the people of New York."
Oh, dear. Maybe it's too late.
Though clearly driven and talented, Senator Clinton may not have noticed that voters have long memories. Many voters didn't understand Watergate during the Nixon era, perhaps, but they understood when the president paid only a pittance on a healthy annual income, taking deductions for work done on his Western White House.
Similarly, they may have found Whitewater complicated. But they understand paying for something after you are caught red-handed doesn't "eliminate even the slightest question." On the contrary, it answers the question.
What Kenneth Starr couldn't do as independent counsel, the Clintons have done themselves: expose their double-dealing tendencies. It's especially puzzling behavior in light of Mr. Clinton's savvy decision to locate his offices in Harlem. That quieted some critics fast. Why didn't the same cunning political instincts kick in before he decided to loot the White House on his way out the door?