Artist Credit greatest political vulnerability lay in his eagerness to compromise with his enemies.” But, say the authors, “As he put pen to paper in the Oval Office, he muttered, ‘I may be making a terrible mistake.'” For three years, however, Clinton’s luck held. Starr discovered that, for all his digging, Whitewater was what Hillary said it was: “a never-ending fictional conspiracy that honest-to-goodness reminds me of some people’s obsession with U.F.O.s.” Though he kept telling the press he was “getting close” to a Whitewater breakthrough, he had in fact run into such a wall that one month after Clinton’s second inaugural in 1997, Starr announced that he was resigning to become dean of Pepperdine University Law School \(subsidized by that faithful old announcement provoked such outrage from his far-right supporters, and denunciations as a “quitter” by Times columnist William Safire and others, that four days later he said he would stay on. But for what? Sex. That was the only thing left to investigate, and at first despite all the rumors, inflated by the tabloids, floating up from Clinton’s past Starr had little to work with. But that would change, thanks to a malleable hick named Paula Jones, an absolute nobody who would become somebody by helping to keep the avalanche going until it smothered Bill Clinton. THE LAST BIMBO Not long before Starr settled in as independent counsel, Paula Jones attended a major convention of Washington’s most right-wing Republicans in the Shoreham Hotel, where she made her debut as a putative victim of Clinton’s lechery. She told a press conference that in 1991, when she was a state employee working at a conference at Little Rock’s Excelsior Hotel, Governor Clinton had sent a trooper to invite her to his room. Thinking it might help her win better employment, she went. To her dismay, she said, Clinton had exposed himself and asked for oral sex. The reviews of her D.C. appearance were dismal, but her backers weren’t discouraged. “From the very beginning, Clinton’s right-wing enemies subsidized Paula Jones” her trips, her hotel suites, and particularly her legal fees and they decided that they would give her complaint legitimacy by suing Clinton, whatever the cost. The description of how the behind-the-scenes army of lawyers was assembled for Jones is awesome. \(Indeed, Starr himself had offered at one time to write her brief for free. That offer, and the fact that some of his law partners were involved in her legal team, were conflicts of interest that would have kept a lawyer of any integrity from accepting the inThe lawsuit made Jones a celebrity. It also made her very dangerous. Sensing peril, Clinton’s lawyers offered to settle, for $700,000. But in a conspiracy a veritable cobweb of slyness that is too complicated to summarize here, Jones’ lawyers blocked the settlement. They also persuaded the Supreme Court, for the first time in history, to allow a sitting president to face trial. As long as her case was still active, her lawyers knew it could ultimately lead to more mischief for Clinton. In her legal pleadings, Jones claimed that because of her encounter with Clinton, she had been mistreated at work, denied raises and promotions. \(After scoring 45 percent on a grammar test and missing eleven of thirty-four questions in an alphabetizing exercise, she basis of those claims, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright “granted the Jones attorneys broad discovery to ask about the president’s sexual conduct with other state and federal employees like Gennifer Flowers and Kathleen Willey.” But the judge’s permission, as they say, was irrelevant and immaterial, because Jones’ attorneys were already asking those questions. So was Starr. So were several aggressive reporters. Step by step, bimbo by bimbo, they were tracking down their quarry. Clinton, vulnerable privately if not publicly, was almost in their grasp. What had begun, years before, as an investigation of a failed Arkansas land deal, had finally would up as an investigation of Oval Office sexual dirt. The late Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson \(quoted twice by jurists in had been right about prosecutorial abuse: Therein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor; that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than the cases that need to be prosecuted. With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him. Robert Sherrill is the author of The Accidental President, The Oil Follies of 1970-1980, Why They Call It Politics, and several other books. 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 21, 2000
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