don't let the bad guys get away with murder,

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Jun. 11, 2003
    Don't let the bad guys get away with murder,
    By Shmuley Boteach

    In April 1992 I sat in a packed conference hall at the AIPAC convention in Washington, DC, where the late Ron Brown, then chairman of the Democratic National Committee, announced to thunderous applause: "This November we must do everything to kick George Bush out of the White House."

    Of course, that was a different Bush, and that seismic support was based on perceived Bush biases against Israel. Today we have a new President Bush, a man who, should he continue to pursue his bold vision of securing the world against terror, will be remembered by history as one of America's great leaders.

    But first he would do well to heed the lesson not of his father, to whom he is often compared, but to his father's successor, Bill Clinton. For just when you thought it was safe to go back into the murky waters of American politics, the Clintons are back.

    First, a brief digression on the subject of Hillary's memoirs, which are the latest big splash on this side of the Atlantic. What can be said of a woman who complained bitterly that in the sexual scandal involving her husband "his privacy, my privacy, Monica Lewinsky's privacy and the privacy of our families was violated," and further maintained throughout the impeachment scandal that Monicagate was a private family matter (I agreed with her); yet, as soon as she got an $8 million book advance immediately decided to go public with her pain?

    Asked by Barbara Walters whether she would stay with Bill if he cheated on her again, Hillary responded, "That will be between us, and that will be that zone of privacy that I believe in."
    What zone of privacy? The one that became publicly occupied territory the moment the cash-register went ping!?

    And what about Hillary's assertion in her book that she believed Bill's denials to her regarding an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky? "[Bill] had talked to her a few times, and she had asked him for some job-hunting help. This was completely in character for Bill. He said that she had misinterpreted his attention It was such a familiar scenario that I had little trouble believing the accusations were groundless."

    Did Hillary, acknowledged even by her most strident critics as being possessed of a razor-sharp intelligence, really believe that the leader of the free world had no more pressing matters than to become career advice officer to a well-endowed stranger? And did she also believe Bill would have extended the same courtesy to a pimply young male intern as to a buxom brunette with a thong?

    Yet Hillary tells us she was shocked shocked by her husband's confession to her the night before his grand jury testimony, eight months after the scandal broke. She also declares that she wanted to "wring Bill's neck," though she tellingly omits any reference to what she wanted to do to Monica.

    IN MANY ways the Clintons are archetypes of modern-day America. Interested in celebrity over dignity and power over principle, they long ago forfeited any pretension to a private life. They have offered themselves as the ultimate power couple whose union is of national significance and whose marriage (remember their talk of a "twofer"?) is of historic consequence.

    In fairness, I must confess a touch of resentment toward the Clintons. But it wasn't always thus. I was one of those 3,000 people at AIPAC who rose to their feet to cheer Ron Brown's championing of candidate Clinton.

    Less you believe it was his moral failings that turned me off Bill, let me declare immediately that I could care less about his girlfriends. Great men have often harbored great vices and while Clinton could have chosen to be different, we cannot fault him over some of his predecessors in choosing to be ordinary.

    As far as his having been a bad public example, I have forever looked to the righteousness of religious role models rather than the insecurity of most politicians for inspiration. Less so do I fault Clinton for his vacuous post-presidency (on the night of president George W. Bush's announcement of the 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to clear out of Iraq, Clinton was having dinner in New York with Whoopi Goldberg) because he still might decide to abandon his shallow Hollywood friends and use his celebrity status for something lasting and good.

    Rather my disdain for president Clinton has everything to do with how he allowed bad guys like Osama bin Laden and Yasser Arafat to get away with murder, literally.

    The first job of a leader, as King Solomon famously established, is to mete out justice, to distinguish between good and evil by protecting the good and rooting out evil. Every great American leader, from George Washington, who punished British tyranny, to Abraham Lincoln, who squashed rebellion and slavery, to Dwight Eisenhower, who crushed the Nazis, has done the same.

    Clinton failed this critical test abysmally.
    The road map of his failure is littered with the corpses of innocents: genocide in Rwanda (for which he later apologized); ethnic cleansing in Bosnia (which he belatedly used bombings to halt); the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the bombings of American embassies in Africa. With all these Clinton proved that while evil stalked the earth, he was out to lunch.

    When Clinton left office his greatest fear was that he would be remembered for Monica Lewinsky. Today he wishes he could be remembered as the man who couldn't keep his pants zipped rather than the president who couldn't keep his citizens safe.
    But nothing is more stomach-turning than Clinton's neutral and honest-broker position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. When I think back to Clinton's repeated courting of the incorrigible, murderous Arafat I get nauseous. Clinton did more to undermine the security of the State of Israel than almost any Western leader who preceded him.

    ONE CAN only hope that President Bush has learned from Clinton's mistakes. This formidable president risks exposing himself as inconsistent on justice and weak on security if he continues to pursue his own "honest-broker status" between the Palestinians and Israel.

    Since when is America neutral when it comes to terrorists vowing to destroy a democratic state? Since when does America not choose sides when it comes to one of its most steadfast allies trying to survive a war of annihilation against an enemy that danced in the streets when American citizens were being eviscerated in a jet-fuelled inferno?
    Why has the Bush doctrine of "If you're not with us, you're against us" never been applied to the Palestinians?

    Rather than demanding simultaneous reciprocal measures Bush should have told Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), who has already announced that he will not use force against Hamas, that the United States will have no dealings with him until he has declared war on Palestinian terrorists.

    Bush's statement that he was "deeply troubled" by the Israeli assassination attempt on Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi this while Rantisi was proclaiming a "holy war" until there are no more "criminal Zionists" left in Israel portends ill for the future.

    I pray that President Bush does not compromise himself by espousing a policy of double standards wherein the US may use its military to kill terrorists, while Israel is forced to sit down and negotiate with those who tolerate murder.
    For when, inevitably, someone stands up next year at a convention and announces: "This November we must do everything to keep George Bush in the White House," I want to be able to stand up, unhesitatingly, and applaud.

    The writer is a nationally syndicated radio host on the Talk America radio network, and the host of the WWRL Morning Show in New York City. His newest book, The Private Adam: Becoming a Hero in a Selfish Age was published in May.

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