Paula Jones was “shocked” by Judge Susan Webber Wright’s ruling yesterday. But she shouldn’t have been.

Wright telegraphed her partiality for the president in the sexual harassment case long ago. First she tried to delay the trial for eight years. A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturned that decision. Next, she placed a broad gag order on both sides in the case, one appealed by news agencies and other interested parties who believed it was important for the American people to know whether their government’s chief executive officer was a sexual pervert. Next, she decided Monica Lewinsky’s deposition would be inadmissible in the case.

Her ruling yesterday dismissing the lawsuit against President Clinton, therefore, was predictable. Jones’ claims of sexual harassment, she said, “fall far short” of being worthy of trial.

So, let’s get this straight. Then Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton was alleged to have pulled down his pants, exposed himself to Jones and asked her to “kiss” his sexual organ. He was also accused to warning the state employee to “keep this between us” and reminding her that he knew her boss well.

Understandably, Jones says she was traumatized by the experience and, eventually, felt it necessary to leave the state. But, no, that’s not sexual harassment, according to Wright. That’s just “boorish and offensive” conduct.

It’s worth considering: Does this high-profile decision not grant license to other boors who occupy powerful positions to make unwanted sexual overtures to low-level employees?

Now some legal experts say the Jones case was weak — basically coming down to her word versus his. They also claim that she could not demonstrate that her career suffered as a result of spurning the sexual advances of the governor.

Maybe that’s true. But with all we know about Bill Clinton’s sexual history, did Paula Jones not at least deserve her day in court? Frankly, with all due respect, I don’t see how any impartial observer could say otherwise.

It seems to me, that Wright, Bill Clinton’s former law school student, took the safe way out — like so many other U.S. public officials are doing these days. She decided to wash her hands of a hot case — leave these issues for someone else to worry about. Don’t think judges don’t read public opinion polls, too.

But I suspect there was even more involved in this decision. I suspect there was real fear at work. Do you think Judge Wright, whose courtroom and home are in Arkansas, failed to notice the recent deaths of Whitewater witnesses James McDougal and Johnny Lawhon? Even if most of the establishment press didn’t notice Lawhon’s violent demise at the age of 29, I don’t think Wright missed it.

This may sound darkly conspiratorial. But, I assure you, it is not. I have personally talked with members of Congress who admit, off the record, of course, to being afraid to pursue justice with this White House regime. They observe the incredibly high body count around this president. And they wonder — coincidence, statistical anomaly, bad luck? No one’s in a hurry to find out for themselves.

What’s worse is it is still possible to cross this president, die a violent death and not even raise serious questions among the press establishment or official investigatory bodies. That’s not a very good life insurance policy. It must not help people like Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey or even Monica Lewinsky sleep very well at night.

I believe Judge Wright’s decision will be appealed and may even be overturned. But it will take six months or more. Once again, Bill Clinton has bought himself some time. He’s wriggled off another hook. Now, despite many other “bimbo eruptions” of recent days, Clinton will return triumphant from Africa, puffed up over his “victory.” He and his spin crew will suggest that this decision somehow casts doubt on the stories of other women who have complained about his lewd and highly inappropriate behavior toward women.

If it’s any consolation to Paula Jones, I believe her. Why? Because Paula Jones has never lied to me. Bill Clinton has — repeatedly. So, if this case really amounted to “he said, she said,” for me, it’s no contest.

Look what Paula Jones subjected herself to bring this case to this stage. Does it make any sense that an apolitical woman like Jones would make up such charges? Remember, she didn’t even know about Monica Lewinsky, Kathleen Willey and a dozen other women preyed upon by Clinton when this case began.

I hope Paula Jones still gets her day in court. I hope it’s sooner, rather than later.

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