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From beyond the grave, the late President Richard Nixon — himself
something of an expert on White House scandals — is shedding light on
why this president, William Jefferson Clinton, seems to get away with
soooooo much.

In Monica Crowley’s new book, “Nixon in Winter,” he shares his
thoughts and insights on Whitewater, the death of White House Deputy
Counsel Vincent Foster and the inability of Republicans to go for the
jugular in punishing political scandals by the opposition.

Nixon, like others who have called the mysterious Foster death “the
Rosetta Stone” of the Clinton scandals, intuitively understood the
centrality of the alleged suicide.

“I think that what we have here is a major political problem,” he
told Crowley days after the July 1993 death. “This death must cut right
to something else, like that land deal, or their taxes, or something.
There’s a reason why they are being so secretive and maybe even — well
– obstructing the investigation.”

Nixon saw an opportunity for the Republicans to exploit the
situation.

“He wanted Whitewater pursued as vigorously by the Republicans as
Watergate had been by the Democrats, Clinton held as accountable for
misdeeds as he had been, and all presidents held to the same high
standard,” writes Crowley. “Again, Nixon made the mistake of believing
that other presidents would be held as accountable as he had been.”

By December 1993, Nixon was already deeply frustrated over the
Republicans’ failure to nail Clinton.

“This is a mess,” he said. “There is so much corruption involved here
that they are up to their eyeballs in it, particularly Hillary, since
she handled all of their finances. The Foster suicide smells to high
heaven, but they probably won’t reopen that investigation. The taking of
the files (from Foster’s office) was definitely obstructing justice.”

Nixon resented the fact that his attorneys were still fighting
Watergate-related “crap” 20 years later. He knew that it was critical to
seize the moment in the investigations.

“Anything the Clintons turn over now will have been totally
sanitized,” he warned. “If our people don’t step up to this, so help me
…” he said, clenching his fist. “Of course, I can’t say anything, for
obvious reasons, but they had better go after them on this.”

Nixon also warned that it would take an aggressive prosecutor to make
something stick.

“I see that Bob Fiske is going to be the special prosecutor on
Whitewater,” he said. “I don’t know much about him, but if he turns out
to be a (Howard) Baker type, we’re doomed. We don’t need a softy or an
elite intellectual type on this: we need a tough son of a bitch. But I
still don’t think anything will come of it. His friends in the press
will protect him no matter what. We didn’t have that advantage.”

Nixon feared the Republicans would “flush the thing down the tubes.
They did it with (Commerce Secretary) Ron Brown and (Illinois Rep. Dan)
Rostenkowski,” he said. “Those guys are guilty as hell and corrupt up to
their eyeballs, and they’re all still at the trough. It’s our own
people’s fault; they are just not up for the big play. My critics used
to say that Watergate was a gift to them; here we have a gift from the
Clintons, and no one is up to using it.”

“The point has to be made that unlike this situation, no one ever
profited in Watergate,” he continued. “Here you have financial gain and
abuse of power. I remember when they went after (Commerce Secretary)
Maury Stans for $1,000; meanwhile, Ron Brown takes millions, and nothing
is done. And here was Hillary, on the impeachment committee, screaming
about the eighteen and a half minutes, and now she’s in Little Rock
shredding.”

Once again, Nixon returned to the most important difference between
Watergate and the still fledgling Clinton scandal — a dead official.
Commenting on the press bias, which concluded early that Whitewater was
“nothing like Watergate,” Nixon said: “I say, ‘It’s worse. In Watergate,
we didn’t have profiteering, and we didn’t have a body.”

Today, Nixon must be spinning in his grave as his beloved but hapless
Republicans continue to flub investigations into wider profiteering
schemes, more bodies and even questions of national loyalty and
security.

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