If Bob Dole's campaign ever blips out of flat-line status, the
revived Whitewater scandal could become a serious threat to
President Clinton's re-election. The fraud convictions of Jim
and Susan McDougal and Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker have
breathed new life into the sordid affair.
- Dole, Clinton & Whitewater
Though the Clintons might not be legally liable for McDougal's
fraudulent bank practices, the McDougal-Clinton Whitewater
real-estate partnership did span Bill Clinton's years as
governor and ended only after Clinton was elected President in
1992. It was McDougal's money that kept the ill-fated
development project afloat.
The Republicans have made clear, too, that "character" will be
the campaign's defining issue, with Whitewater and the lurid
Paula Jones sex allegations the two principal cases in point.
The GOP has already churned out an attack ad against Clinton's
clumsy handling of Paula Jones's lawsuit.
The Democrats can argue, of course, that Whitewater is just a
very successful "oppo" -- the political exploitation of some
minor indiscretion in a politician's past. They can claim that
the Whitewater case is trivial compared to scandals that
implicated Presidents Reagan and Bush. Both claims, of course,
It's also true that Bob Dole helped cover up Republican
wrongdoing from his post as Senate GOP leader. Dole battled
Iran-contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, who was
investigating fraud, arms trafficking and obstruction of justice
by the Reagan-Bush administrations.
In 1993, Dole even boasted to a conservative conference that he
had taken to the Senate floor "countless" times to hector Walsh
for offenses, such as flying first class on commercial airlines.
Dole announced, too, that he had investigated the "political
leanings" of Walsh's staff.
But the Democrats have only themselves to blame. They did
nothing to defend Walsh's Iran-contra investigation when it was
under GOP attack. Indeed, the Democrats failed to hold the
Republicans accountable from start to finish. As former CIA
director Robert Gates wrote in his recent memoirs, From the
Shadows, congressional inquiries into the early days of
Iran-contra were only "halfhearted." (See The Consortium, June
By letting the Republicans off the hook again and again -- from
Iran-contra to Iraqgate, from the El Mozote massacre to contra
drug smuggling, from October Surprise to Neil Bush's Silverado
S&L -- the Democrats may have thought they were buying
But it was a bad deal. The Democrats are now learning the
painful lesson that the Republicans simply pocketed those
concessions -- or, worse, turned them to the GOP's advantage by
asserting that the cover-ups actually proved Reagan-Bush
Bill Clinton cannot expect similar mercy from the Republicans.
Robert Parry, Editor of The Consortium
(c) Copyright 1996 -- Please Do Not Re-Post
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