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Arkansas angle in tabloid trash

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About the Dick Morris sex scandal:

Republicans best go easy on the guilt-by-association trip about Morris, the former chief strategist for President Clinton. Morris' reported pillow talk with a prostitute, exposed in the Star tabloid, sent him packing on the climactic day of the Democratic National Convention.

Morris has worked for far more Republicans than Democrats, including our own Governor Mike Huckabee. While it's

unfair to tar any politician with Morris' sexual indiscretions, there are aspects of his relationship with politicos worth considering.

Morris is notoriously unfaithful in more ways than sexually. He leaked Clinton campaign material to Republicans earlier this year. When he was working for Republicans, he badmouthed Clinton repeatedly, particularly in terms of Clinton's morals. He's lied about who his clients are. He has reportedly worked through surrogates to continue representing candidates while saying he was not.

Morris' shabby record is no secret. So what does it say that Clinton and Huckabee and others value him so?

Some theories:

•First, Morris may truly be a political genius. The record's persuasive. He played a key role in Bill Clinton's rebirth as a pragmatic Democrat in 1982 following the shambles of his liberal first term as governor. He helped reshape Mike Huckabee, a loser as a fire-breathing conservative when a U.S. Senate candidate in 1992, now a seeming moderate and one of the most popular Arkansas politicians. Most recently, Morris was instrumental in resurrecting Clinton following the devastation of the 1994 elections.

•It could be that the supremely ambitious are willing to risk the hiring of a liar and cheat for the promise of sufficient rewards.

•It also could be that Clinton and Huckabee and other politicians--like a lot of men with big egos--believe that the promiscuous Morris may cheat on others, but surely not on them, his true loves. Clinton knows better now. Surely Huckabee must wonder if his old friend indiscreetly passed around inside info on him during his call girl appointments.

So far, Huckabee is keeping quiet. He won't even say whether he has spoken to Morris in recent months, only that he hasn't employed Morris in a year. Associates of Morris contend the men communicated when Huckabee was talking with the White House on ways to avoid losing Medicaid. The giant aid program was in jeopardy because of the governor's initial refusal to provide the legally required Medicaid abortion funding to a retarded rape victim.

It also would be interesting to know if Morris ever favored Huckabee with White House secrets, as he did his bimbo.

Clinton and Huckabee are steeped in a religious tradition that loves a reformed sinner, particularly one who can titillate as he testifies about his road to redemption. So Dick Morris may be down, but don't count him out of the political consulting business. Not even from future business with the boys of Hope.

Print headline: "Arkansas angle in tabloid trash" September 6, 1996.

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