After Bill Clinton's 1999 Senate acquittal, Saturday Night Live aired a parody of his subdued victory speech in the Rose Garden. "I... am... bulletproof!" exclaimed Darrell Hammond, playing the wayward president. The SNL writers were right then and they're right now, and Congressional Republicans need to finally realize that the only way to beat Clinton is to let him beat himself. Let me start by saying I'm a Clinton-hating Democrat, one of those voters Al Gore was worried about offending by appearing with the scandal-riden president during the campaign. And with this latest scandal, it seems like the public has finally given up on him and is recognizing just how destructive and self-obsessed the man is. Clinton screwed up. Royally. He knows it, but as usual he can't admit it. He pardoned Marc Rich, a fugitive who cheated the federal treasury out of tens of millions of dollars. Why? Because a wily lawyer convinced Clinton that he and Rich were cut from the same cloth -- two good men brought down by unfair and overzealous prosecutors. It was a flagrant abuse of the president's constitutional right to issue a full pardon. It's tainted by the fact that Rich's ex-wife has given millions of dollars to Hillary Rodham Clinton and to the Clinton Presidential Library. Even if his reasons for doing it were legitimate, it was an unbelievably stupid political move. But fortunately for Clinton and his allies, he has a vindictive congressman named Dan Burton going after him. Burton is leading an investigation into how and why Clinton granted the pardon during his final hours in office. Arlen Specter is running a similar investigation on the Senate side, and the Justice Department has authorized an investigation into whether Rich funneled money through his ex-wife to the Clintons. Only one thing can come from all of these hearings and investigations: Clinton will have a chance to dig himself out of the hole he jumped into. The reason he survived impeachment and what was initially expected to be a tough re-election campaign isn't the economy, and it's not really his charm. It's the luck he's had in picking his enemies. The hypocritical and childish Newt Gingrich, the pious Ken Starr, the bitchy Linda Tripp. Anyone could have beaten these guys. Rep. Burton (R-Ind.) is of the same mold. He's a man possessed, having spent his years as chairman of the House Governmental Reform Committee seemingly doing nothing except investigating and attacking the president. It's almost sad to watch. He's gone up against Clinton before and lost. Now he smells blood in the water and thinks he may finally have a case. He does. But there's one thing -- Clinton has proven time and again that he is indeed the Comeback Kid. The man is invincible. Attacking him only makes his supporters support him more vehemently. And besides that, Clinton is out of office. There is nothing to be gained in going after a former president who already has his hands full fighting the devil on his one shoulder and the historians eager to pass judgement on the unfulfilled promise of his presidency. Though he wrote a self-indulgent column in yesterday's New York Times, Clinton has no real defense of his moves. Not even his closest allies are really offering one. He made a bad decision. End of story. (Although if the Republicans really wanted some good come of this, they would see it as one more reason to support McCain-Feingold and make sure that it passes.) If the Republicans were to listen to their president and drop their assorted Clinton inquiries, the scandal would end. But its memory wouldn't fade. Bill Clinton has sullied himself enough through these pardons without any help from the Republicans. But they're not listening, and as usual they will soon overplay their hand. The people will turn against the investigators. And Clinton will revel in his usual role as victim to the tactics of the evil GOP.Comments powered by Disqus
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