OFFBEAT: Special rules for Clinton

Is there a more shameless politician in America than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton? She voted for the invasion of Iraq and refuses to
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

Is there a more shameless politician in America than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton? She voted for the invasion of Iraq and refuses to say the vote was a mistake. As her bipartisan war rages on, she continues to insist that it's all President Bush's fault.

Now New York's senator has a new moral crusade -- presidential abuse of power.

When Bush announced he was commuting the prison sentence for former Dick Cheney aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Sen. Clinton rushed out a press release.

"His commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice," she said. (The emphasis is mine.)

Former President Bill Clinton also piled on.

"You've got to understand, this is consistent with their philosophy; they believe that they should be able to do what they want to do, and that the law is a minor obstacle," he said.

I did not agree with President Bush's decision.

I have followed the Libby matter pretty closely for months and I don't buy his story that he didn't remember what he had told reporters. I've concluded that he did lie to a grand jury, which is a pretty serious offense. He was sentenced to 30 months in jail as punishment for his perjury and obstruction of justice convictions.

The president's opinion that Libby's punishment was too harsh is not unreasonable, particularly in comparison to the sentence handed down to Sandy Berger, President Clinton's national security advisor. Berger received no jail time for stealing and destroying national security documents dealing with terrorism and then lying about the matter.

But Bush should have let Libby serve a few weeks in jail before cutting the sentence short. That would have provided the proper balance, tempering justice with mercy.

So how did the Clintons feel about the rule of law when Bill Clinton held office?

Here's a very partial list of some of Bill Clinton's presidential pardons and clemency actions late in his administration. Just remember, it's not cronyism and ideology!

-- Executive clemency for 16 Puerto Rican terrorists, members of the F.A.L.N. terror group behind more than 100 bombings.

"The suspicion is rampant that his motivation was a political effort to please the Puerto Rican community that is crucial to Mrs. Clinton's hopes in the coming Senate race from New York," the New York Times wrote in a Sept. 9, 1999, editorial.

-- A pardon for Roger Clinton, convicted of drug charges. He's the president's brother.

-- A pardon for Susan McDougal, convicted of four felonies in the Whitewater scandal. She's a former business partner of the Clintons.

-- A pardon for Henry Cisneros, a former cabinet member in the Clinton administration, who lied to FBI agents.

-- A pardon that ended charges against Marc Rich, accused of evading $48 million in federal taxes and other crimes.

Here's an interesting sentence from "Time" magazine about the Rich pardon: "Marc Rich's socialite ex-wife has donated an estimated $1 million to Democratic causes, including $70,000 to Hillary Clinton's successful Senate campaign and $450,000 to the Clinton presidential library fund."