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Clinton’s call for end to ‘destruction’ hypocritical, ERLC’s Land, others s

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Clinton was guilty of “shameless hypocrisy” when he called in his post-impeachment speech for an end to the “politics of personal destruction,” said the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics agency.
Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, was joined by USA Today and a former White House adviser in pointing out the inconsistency of the president’s remarks made Dec. 19.
On the same afternoon he became only the second president impeached by the House of Representatives, Clinton said, as his wife, Vice President Al Gore and members of the House Democratic delegation stood behind him on the White House lawn, “We must stop the politics of personal destruction. We must get rid of the poisonous venom of excessive partisanship, obsessive animosity and uncontrolled anger. That is not what America deserves. That is not what America is about.”
In an opinion piece released Dec. 21, Land said Clinton “says he opposes the ‘politics of personal destruction’ when in fact his habitual response to political opposition has been to smite his critics hip and thigh and them blame them for limping.”
Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Ken Starr are among those “who have felt the bite of Clinton’s rabid attack dogs like James Carville unleashed on those who dare to question, or oppose, the president,” Land wrote. “They all have the teeth marks on their reputations to prove it.”
Clinton and his allies “had already laid the ground work to attack Monica Lewinsky as a mentally unstable sexual stalker” until the existence of DNA evidence “refuted their tightly spun lies,” Land said.
“Either President Clinton’s hypocrisy and contempt for the American people’s intelligence literally [knows] no bounds, or more disturbingly, he is such a self-absorbed narcissist that he believes that when he viciously attacks his opponents it is justifiable self-defense because they are ‘out to get him,’ but when they criticize his conduct it is ‘the politics of personal destruction.’
“What Mr. Clinton really opposes is the politics of personal responsibility, not ‘the politics of personal destruction,'” Land wrote.
In a Dec. 21 editorial, USA Today called Clinton’s speech a “curious scene,” with the president, “freshly impeached, standing on the White House lawn surrounded by his partisans and attacking partisanship.”
Clinton’s “demonization of anyone who dared challenge his abuses intensified the polarization that has so infuriated the public through this process,” the editorial said. “And his inability to rise above the political fray and acknowledge his lying and obstruction of the justice process for what they are have continually frustrated allies who have tried to engineer a compromise solution.”
Former Clinton adviser David Gergen said Dec. 20 the White House should call off its “overly aggressive allies,” The Washington Times reported.
“The White House can’t have it both ways,” Gergen said, according to The Times. “They can’t conduct a high-toned, presidential set of statements and at the same time have this lower-level gutting of the opposition.”
The White House, however, did not seem inclined to take Gergen’s advice. Press Secretary Joe Lockhart said Dec. 21 the White House would not ask Carville to halt his attacks on Republicans for supporting impeachment, The Times reported.
The day before, Carville, a top strategist in Clinton’s 1992 election and a constant defender of the president, said the Republicans “are going to pay for what they did. This was a cowardly and dastardly thing that they did, and there’s going to be retribution and the retribution is going to be at the polling place,” according to The Times.
In his op-ed, Land contrasted Clinton’s approach to the “honor, decency, courage and accountability of Speaker-designate Robert Livingston’s stepping aside as speaker for the good of the nation because of past moral failures.”
During the impeachment debate Dec. 19, Livingston, from Louisiana, called on the president to resign, then said he would set an example for Clinton to follow by refusing the speakership and resigning from office next year. Livingston, whom the Republicans had selected to be the new speaker next year, made his stunning announcement only two days after sharing with the GOP conference he had been guilty of adulterous relationships during his marriage.
Livingston made his revelation after he learned Hustler magazine was planning to publish an article on his adultery. Larry Flynt, Hustler’s publisher, said he has gathered similar information on other members of Congress and predicted “several more” would “bite the dust,” The Times reported. Flynt has offered as much as $1 million to women who could provide proof of extramarital relationships with politicians.
The spotlight has shifted to the Senate after the House approved articles of impeachment charging the president with perjury and obstruction of justice. The Senate is expected to take up impeachment when it convenes in January.
Flowers is among several women who have alleged adulterous relationships with Clinton. Jones and Willey both have accused the president of making sexual advances toward them. Clinton’s allies commonly have denigrated these women and others when they made such allegations.
Jones’ lawsuit was settled out of court recently after a lengthy process. In January, about the time Clinton was giving a deposition in the Jones case, Starr, the independent counsel investigating the president, learned of Lewinsky’s stories of a sexual relationship with Clinton. The president’s attempt to conceal that relationship led to his impeachment.
Land’s op-ed will be in the next issue of Salt, the ERLC’s public-policy newsletter.

    About the Author

  • Tom Strode.