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Clinton Mess Will Become Even Messier

Kenneth L. Khachigian is a veteran political strategist and former White House speech writer who practices law in Orange County. His column appears here every other week

“I hope all Americans . . . will rededicate ourselves to the work of serving our nation and building our future together. . . . This can be and this must be a time of reconciliation and renewal for America.” President Clinton’s Rose Garden remarks after his acquittal by the Senate

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“This nasty scandal won’t really come to a close until each and every Republican who mounted this six-year war on Bill Clinton has been removed from office. . . .” Presidential advisor James Carville, writing in Time

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Well, it must not be time to get this over with and get on with the people’s business--as the Geraldoistas were fond of raging on talk shows over the last year. Still, don’t blame it all on Carville, for the day before Clinton’s hunch-shouldered humble-in-the-garden-performance, the New York Times reported the president was “furious,” vowing to “knock off many of his foes” come election time and especially “real hot on the managers.”

Across America, the left wing is ignoring the sunny and remorseful Clinton in favor of the remorseless and darkly brooding retaliator. Forget the bridge to the 21st century. Forget the end of the “politics of personal destruction.” Enter what the Clinton political machine has elevated to grisly political mechanics--lavishly doling out hatred while piously preaching compassion.

For example, People for the American Way--a sweet name belying the sour zealots who make it up--announced a $5-million television, organizational and grass-roots campaign to purge congressional Republicans. Getting beyond the gag-inducing concept of the likes of Clinton symbolizing “the American Way,” the stated political plan of People for the American Way nonetheless must be taken seriously.

And here in California, fully two weeks into Clinton’s phony yearning for reconciliation and renewal, the political blood-stalking of Congressman and House impeachment manager Jim Rogan has become flypaper to vengeful extremists. Try this for reconciliation: The California Democratic Party’s chief spokesman said of Rogan: “He is dead meat. He doesn’t need Jack Kevorkian to help him; he’s dead.”

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You want rededication to the “work of serving our nation”? Turn to David Geffen, zillionaire entertainment mogul and Clinton adulator: “Many of us are looking forward to spending time and money and effort to defeating James Rogan.”

Rogan, an up-from-the-streets former Democrat and son of a welfare mother who worked his way through school to become California’s youngest judge, is not exactly quaking at the thought of David Geffen taking him on in his district. I’d pay to see those Hollywood elitists hit the working-class precincts of Glendale in their limos and designer jeans, sporting their $200 haircuts and precious little granny glasses.

Better yet, Jim Rogan should invite the Impeachee-in-Chief himself into his community. On one condition: that Clinton personally debate Rogan on the subjects of honesty, integrity and respect for women.

Frankly, Rogan and the other managers Clinton is so “hot on” should not be the least bit fearful of the year 2000. Not only will their adversaries look stupid for opening the new millennium with 20-month-old regurgitations of Barney Frank histrionics, they are also in grave danger of unfolding chapters of scandal in pages yet to be turned.

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The fact is that between now and November 2000, there will not be less evidence of Clinton’s corruption, there will be more. After all, the record to this date is a floor, not a ceiling. Nosy journalists, disenchanted staff members, and recanting witnesses are lurking still.

For example, only a week after Clinton’s acquittal came the airing of a detailed allegation by an Arkansas woman, Juanita Broaddrick, that she was raped by Clinton in 1978. Not unexpectedly, Broaddrick is being attacked by Clinton apologists. (Their most bizarre point of defense is that the claimed assault “took place more than 20 years ago"--which raises the interesting question of what liberals think the precise cutoff date is for disregarding rape.)

This much is clear: The political risks ahead lie not for men and women who stepped up to principle in the face of lock-step partisanship by Democrats. The risks are to those who refuse to see the emperor’s nakedness--the sham leader who has soiled the American neighborhood.

What ironic juxtaposition it was to see Clinton acquitted by self-deluding partisans on Lincoln’s birthday. Honest Abe and Dishonest Bill. It will ever be thus.

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Kenneth L. Khachigian is a veteran political strategist and former White House speech writer who practices law in Orange County. His column appears here every other week.


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