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How does Bill Clinton explain his problems? Somebody upstairs just
doesn’t like him, he explained at his latest press conference.

His explanation came in response to a question from Sarah McClendon, the
biggest nut in the White House press corps. She asked, and I quote: “Sir,
will you tell us why you think the people have been so mean to you? Is it a
conspiracy? Is it a plan? They have treated you worse than they treated Abe
Lincoln!”

McClendon may have first-hand knowledge. It seems like she’s been around
the White House long enough to recall what kind of treatment old Honest Abe
received. Here’s how Clinton answered:

“You know, one of my favorite jokes — you know, that story about the guy
that is walking along the Grand Canyon, and he falls off? And he is falling
hundreds of feet to certain death and he reaches out. He sees a little twig
on the side of the canyon and he … grabs it. He takes a … deep breath,
and then all of a sudden he sees the roots of the twig start to come loose.
And he looks up in the sky, and he said, ‘Lord, why me? Why me? I pay my
taxes, I go to work every day; why me? And this thunderous voice says:
‘Son, there is just something about you I don’t like.’”

It was that question and that not-very-funny response that set the stage
at last Friday’s press conference for Sam Donaldson’s grilling about Juanita
Broaddrick’s rape charge against the president.

“Mr. President, when Juanita Broaddrick leveled her charges against you
of rape in a nationally televised interview, your attorney, David Kendall,
issued a statement denying them. But shouldn’t you speak directly on this
matter and reassure the public? And if they are not true, can you tell us
what your relationship with Mrs. Broaddrick was, if any?”

Clinton responded: “Well, five weeks ago today, five weeks ago today, I
stood in the Rose Garden after the Senate voted, and I told you that I
thought I owed it to the American people to give them 100 percent of my time
and to focus on their business, and that I would leave it to others to
decide whether they would follow that lead. And that is why I have decided,
as soon as that vote was over, that I would allow all future questions to be
answered by my attorneys. And I think the American people do understand it
and support it, and I think it was the right decision.”

Donaldson: “Can you not simply deny it, sir?”

Clinton: “There’s been a statement made by my attorney. He speaks for me,
and I think he spoke quite clearly.”

And that’s how Clinton dealt with the only rape charge ever leveled
against a sitting U.S. president. Maybe it’s time to review Kendall’s
“clear” response to Broaddrick’s charge.

“Any allegation that the president assaulted Mrs. Broaddrick more than 20
years ago is absolutely false.”

Is that clear enough for you?

Actually, it’s not even a straightforward denial. Instead, it is more
legalistic parsing of words.

Why did Kendall use the word “any” when the question on the table is
about one very specific allegation? The fifth word of the statement –
“president” — is also noteworthy. Of course, no one, including Mrs.
Broaddrick, suggests Bill Clinton was president at the time of the assault.
And no one suggests the president at the time of the crime, Jimmy Carter,
was responsible for the attack. Notice that Kendall’s statement refers to
the victim as Mrs. Broaddrick. Of course, in 1978, when she was raped in a
hotel room, her name was not Mrs. Broaddrick. So here’s another possible
lawyerly hairsplitting technicality.

So, the question remains, why won’t Clinton address this important
allegation?

The answer is: Because the White House press corps and Congress won’t
force him to answer it. They have let him off the hook. Clinton beat the rap
on perjury and obstruction of justice, so he won’t be held accountable for
rape.

Can you live with that America? And, under the circumstances, can you
trust this man to deal honestly and forthrightly with bigger,
national-security issues such as the theft of nuclear secrets by the
Chinese?

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