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Hillary vs. Dick

By David W. Brown

Since the early stages of the Clinton administration, Republicans have attempted to keep the Whitewater issue simmering to discredit the President. They attempted to bring the issue to a boil a few weeks ago when Hillary Clinton was forced to testify to a grand jury, but their strategy seems to have backfired. Parading into court draped in an embroidered coat, the First Lady appeared almost saintly. The Republican obsession with Whitewater began to look as if it was entirely motivated by partisan concerns.

As public opinion turns against the Republicans who have been consumed with Whitewater, they are insisting that their investigation continue, because a smoking gun may yet be uncovered. From the start of the investigation, they have attempted to make analogies to Watergate, claiming that only protracted investigation uncovered that scandal. Hillary Clinton has been accused of being our generation's Richard Nixon. For example, the cover cartoon illustration of a recent issue of the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, portrayed the First Lady as Nixon.

Does the analogy fit? Has Hillary Clinton ever been associated with anything quite as shameful as Richard Nixon's 1950 Senate campaign, when, brimming with anti-communist arrogance after sending Alger Hiss to prison, Nixon ruthlessly demonized his Democratic opponent as "pink right down to her underwear?" Mrs. Clinton has been one of the most criticized, pilloried, and despised First Ladies. Yet, has she ever launched into a bitter and embarassing tirade at the press, like Nixon, who in 1962, angrily declared to reporters: "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore?"

If the Whitewater investigation continues, will the country really discover another web of deceit and hatred like Watergate? Will we learn, perhaps, that Hillary Clinton ordered surveillance of her political enemies so that she might be able to blackmail them? Or, maybe, that the First Lady directed the IRS to audit her rivals, and hired thugs to break into their offices, sabotage their work and steal their files? Is the Clinton White House, like the Nixon White House, teeming with bribery and corruption, inhabited by cruel degenerates and characterized by an utter lack of decency and absence of respect for the Constitution?

All these allegations could possibly be true. But Hillary would still bear much of a resemblence to Tricky Dick. To be a monster truly in Nixon's image, she would also have to bomb the hell out of Hanoi next Christmas, using large bombers instead of strategic fighters to insure maximum civillian casualties. She would have to expose an almost inhuman lack of compassion by attempting to justify the slaughter of unarmed, non-violent students by the National Guard, as Nixon did after the Kent State massacre.

I don't know too much about Whitewater, although I at first assumed that Bill and Hillary may have been responsible for some shady savings and loan business, like so many other greedy people during the 1980s. However, the Clintons have not been charged with any wrongdoing relating to Whitewater. While they certainly have committed their share of misdeeds in the past, these pale in comparison to Nixon's flagrant domestic and international depravity.

Hillary Clinton, despite her foibles, is undoubtedly one of the most intelligent First Ladies in history. Nancy Reagan, not exactly known for her intellect, was only able to offer the nation the insipid slogan "Just Say No." And Barbara Bush did nothing of substance until her panicking husband trotted her out to speak at the 1992 Republican national convention. Even George Bush had to blush at this desperate and embarassing attempt to jumpstart his campaign.

Hillary Clinton has been accused of wielding power without being elected and of benefiting from nepotism. But the country could be far worse off. What if crooks and louts like E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, Patrick Buchanan and Spiro Agnew still roamed the halls of the White House?

David W. Brown's column appears on alternate Wednesdays.

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