Have you ever noticed how Bill Clinton is always apologizing for misdeeds done by others but never for those he himself has committed? Whether it's slavery, exploitation of Africa, genocide in Rwanda, the Vietnam War, Indian atrocities, you name it, Clinton can shed a tear with the best of them. He'll leave it to his successors, however, to clean up after his own prolific messes.
Likewise, my head spun last week when I saw that the president wants Attorney General Janet Reno to consider reopening the investigation into the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. back in 1968. Now, let me say I have no doubt that there was some kind of conspiracy to kill King. I've always doubted that James Earl Ray acted alone.
Advertisement - story continues below
But what's fascinating -- almost funny -- about this idea is that no one in the White House is interested in getting to the bottom of two high-profile and mysterious deaths of top Clinton administration officials. I refer, of course, to Deputy Counsel Vincent W. Foster, Jr. and Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
Think of the nightmare involved with re-examining the forensic evidence in the 30-year-old King case. The chances we'll ever know what really happened are slim, indeed. But that has little to do with Clinton's "concern" -- which is purely political. Jesse Jackson wants an investigation because he's always looking for ways to propel himself into the limelight. Mrs. King, on the other hand, is probably quite sincere in her desire for closure of this chapter in her life. So, this is an easy call for Clinton. It doesn't cost him a thing to weigh in for a new probe.
Not so, though, with Foster and Brown. He wanted to close down the Foster investigation before it even started -- telling the American people that we would just never know what drove his long-time friend to "suicide."
No amount of physical evidence contradicting the suicide story seemed to raise even the slightest question within the administration. In fact, the White House assumed that every new inconsistency raised by reporters represented a direct political threat to the president. How else can you explain the elevation of investigative reporter Christopher Ruddy and the Western Journalism Center to the top of the administration's "enemies list"?
Advertisement - story continues below
And then there's Brown. Remember Reno's "thorough" investigation of reports that Brown had a bullet hole in his head? She claimed that the military forensic pathologists who probed the case were in "unanimous" agreement that Brown's death was the result of blunt force trauma caused by the plane crash. It only took a few phone calls to find out that there was no such consensus and that several of the investigators said a cause of death could not be determined without an autopsy.
Folks, Cabinet secretaries do not die every day. They rarely die unexplained deaths. And even more rarely do they go down in unexplained plane crashes with perfectly cylindrical holes in their heads the size of .45-caliber rounds. Even more rarely, are such figures set to be indicted and reportedly ready to spill the beans on the chief executive of the country.
With all due respect to Mrs. King, Jesse Jackson and other black leaders in this country, when a black Cabinet secretary's strange death can be dismissed so lightly by official Washington, this represents a more imminent threat to our nation and danger to minority progress than the well-trod issue of who killed Dr. King.
Now, I don't believe for a minute that Reno's Justice Department has the competence or integrity to investigate either the Foster or Brown deaths. Let's remember that this is the same gang that exterminated the Branch Davidians at Waco and whitewashed the affair. This is the same bunch who could find no wrongdoing by Clinton or Vice President Gore in the campaign financing scandal. This is the same group that has never explained what happened to those FBI files on political opponents at the White House. You get the picture.
If indeed Reno takes her cue from Clinton -- and she usually does -- I predict the Justice Department will examine the King death and determine that the assassination of the civil rights leader was the work of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." Round up the usual suspects.