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Delay, deny, deceive

National | President Clinton's three-part strategy to avoid Paula Jones

Issue: "Bailing Out," June 14, 1997

The difference between the sex cases involving NBC sportscaster Marv Albert and the president of the United States is that Mr. Albert has a trial date (Sept. 22) on charges he sexually mistreated a woman in a Virginia hotel room and Bill Clinton does not. While the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that no president may hide behind the Constitution to avoid legal accountability for his actions before becoming president, there are still many legal maneuvers the Clinton lawyers can use to make sure Paula Jones never gets to tell her story in open court. From Whitewater to questionable campaign contributions to Paula Jones, Bill Clinton has used the tactics of delay, deny, and deceive to avoid being held accountable for anything he and his minions may have done. He is the Harry Houdini of politics, seemingly able to escape any legal or moral question about his political and personal behavior. One of Paula Jones's attorneys, Gilbert Davis, told a news conference he believes the president's attorney, Robert Bennett, will now proceed with the case and cooperate with Mrs. Jones in her efforts to "clear her good name" and "get her reputation back." I'm not so sure. The last thing Mr. Clinton wants is for Mrs. Jones to air her allegations in court, a forum that could be nationally televised, and might have to be rated so that parents could use the V-chip their president wants to put in every television to protect the kids from bad words and sexual images. Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens said that the Little Rock trial judge, Susan Webber Wright, should give the president wide latitude in the Jones case because of his busy schedule. What busy schedule? The president was not so busy with his "official" duties that he couldn't find time for marathon fund-raising activities, from small talk at "coffees" in the White House, to renting out the Lincoln bedroom to top donors, to myriad other schemes that packed his calendar for nearly two years. Most of his activities are now focused on image-building and his "heritage." If he could spare the time for all of that fundraising and meaningless proposals for "our children and grandchildren, education and the environment," surely he can spare a few hours, at most, to give a deposition in response to Mrs. Jones's charge that she was asked to visit the then-governor of Arkansas in a hotel room where he allegedly exposed himself and asked her to perform a lewd sexual act, which she says she refused. So far, the president has said he "can't recall" ever meeting Mrs. Jones and denies doing that of which she accuses him. Why can't he say that under oath, unless it isn't true and he has something to hide? Mrs. Jones's attorneys say she is still open to an apology from the president, but it would take excruciatingly legalistic language to apologize for something one claims not to have done. Would Mrs. Jones be satisfied with a statement from the president that said, "If I did anything wrong, which I have no recollection of doing, I am sorry for the hurt caused to Mrs. Jones, who I have no recollection of ever meeting"? I don't think so. The failure of feminist organizations to come to Paula Jones's defense is further proof that they care more about politics than about women. They were quick to canonize Anita Hill in her testimony alleging that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her. There was no doubt in their minds that Miss Hill was telling the truth. But with Mrs. Jones it's a different matter because the targets are different. Mr. Thomas is a conservative pro-lifer. Mr. Clinton is socially liberal and pro-abortion. Look for Marv Albert to have his day in court long before Paula Jones gets hers, if she gets it at all. Harry Houdini billed himself as the greatest escape artist in history. He never met Bill Clinton. c 1997, Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.

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