Columns » Bob McCord

Why do they hate him?

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In the last few days, the newspapers have been busy writing about Bill Clinton and his book, "My Life." Barnes & Noble and Borders, the nation's biggest book sellers, say that 400,000 were sold the first day, breaking all records for a nonfiction book. I wasn't really surprised. A CNN/USAToday/Gallup Poll last week showed that Clinton is considered to be the third-best chief executive in the nation's history, led only by Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. After all he was the first Democrat in 60 years to be elected to a second term, and he managed to pass the first balanced budget since 1969. Of course, the reasons so many people are buying the book is that they want to read what he says about his trysts in the White House with Monica Lewinsky. From what I've read, he is apologetic, admits he shouldn't have done it but that he did it because he could do it. Also, perhaps the pressure he was enduring from Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr had something to do with it. He lied about it because he didn't want his family to know, and for some reason he never thought Monica would talk. But she did to a friend who taped it and turned their conversations over to Starr, who was delighted because he had spent $70 million and still had not found enough evidence to warrant impeachment. The House of Representatives, dominated by Republicans, passed articles of impeachment, saying, in effect, that lying about sex was just as bad as treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, which are the qualifications for impeachment as written in the Constitution. But most scholars believe that the only crimes that would qualify for impeachment would be ones that he could be indicted for under federal or state law. For that reason, the Senate, also led by Republicans, voted 55 to 45 to keep Clinton in office. Ten Republicans voted with the Democrats for Clinton. These facts make me wonder why so many editors, four years later, are using Clinton's book as an excuse to slam him again. Take the New York Times, for example, the nation's best newspaper. It somehow has never gotten over the idea that a young man from Arkansas could be president of the United States. Two Sundays ago the Times put a book review on its front page that not only tore up Clinton's book but went on to say that he wasn't qualified to be President. The newspaper got so many complaints (I've never heard of putting a book review on the front page) that the Times ombudsman wrote about it last Sunday. He asked the two major editors if they would have put the review on Page 1 if it had praised the book. "Both said they would have," he wrote. "I'm sure they believe it. I'm not sure I do." Then there's the editorial page of our only state newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. It printed the New York Times book review in full on the front page of its editorial section Sunday. Along side it was a steaming column by the editor of the editorial page, Paul Greenberg, who wrote a seven and one-half inch paragraph of reasons why Clinton was a lousy president. For six out of eight days last week, the Democrat-Gazette's editorial page went out after Clinton. On June 20, there was a column about the presidential library: "Forget about Bill. You don't have to like the guy to appreciate his library and what it's doing for Arkansas." June 22: A column from an Orlando paper ridiculed the nice words that President Bush said about Clinton when his picture was hung in the White House. June 23: Greenberg again taking credit for Clinton's "Slick Willie" nickname, a New York Daily News column that said "the stain on an intern's dress almost made Al Gore president," and an editorial saying the Times review was so accurate that the Democrat-Gazette suspected the writer was from Arkansas. June 25: Editorial writer wrote a song about Clinton and his book entitled, "In My Life," and a Washington Post column that said that Clinton was attempting to erase the facts with his book. June 26: Editorial that said that Skip Rutherford, a Clinton aide, was lucky because his name wasn't mentioned in Clinton's book. July 27: Editorial defending poor Billy Dale who the Clintons fired in the White House travel office (11 years ago), angering the White House press corps because Dale saw to it that they always got the right seat and the right drink when following the President. I guess it's just Clinton's sex escapades that turn off the Democrat-Gazette editorial writers. However, I looked back in December when a black woman, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, identified herself as the illegitimate child of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., the advocate of segregated schools and former States Rights Party candidate for president. There was no editorial about that in the Democrat-Gazette.

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