Whitewater in 600 Words or Less
As I write this, the Whitewater jury in Arkansas is seeing Bill Clinton's videotaped deposition for the first time. Bill's biting his lip and pausing thoughtfully and denying everything. Big freaking deal. CNN, the papers, and talk radio (am I the only one who thought Mad Cow Disease referred to Limbaugh?) are prattling on about how Clinton's testimony might affect the fall elections. Yeah, right.Look. Clinton has saved up about $25 million more than Dole, who had to drop his wad keeping Buchanan from declaring war on Mexico to open up living space in the south. So Clinton's a mortal lock. The guy with the most money has won every presidential election for decades. The rest is bullshit. What does Whitewater mean to the elections? Nothing. But Whitewater is everything you need to know about how this country is run.Whitewater, of course, doesn't usually refer just to a specific land deal, but more generally to every accusation ever leveled at the Clintons. The jumble of innuendo may be why in the four years since The New York Times noticed that there just might be shady money in an American political campaign -- this just in! -- nobody seems to have reported much of anything useful except that Vince Foster was a heck of a shot for a novice.Of course Clinton's as dirty as an ant farm. He's president, for crying out loud. You don't raise a hundred million dollars in '92 without promising a lot of badass CEOs a piece of your action, and you don't get a second helping in '96 unless you kept your backroom deals.The bottom line is -- and this will shock those of you who consider petty name-calling a substitute for political insight -- Bill Clinton is one of the most pro-business politicians of the 20th century. There's a reason the NASDAQ hits a new peak under Clinton more often than Gennifer Flowers ever did. Whitewater (the real estate transaction) was a bribe paid to guv-to-be Clinton by International Paper, one of Arkansas leading polluters, who sold Clinton the land at half-price and hid the deal by using a phony front company as a beard. In exchange, Governor Clinton gave lip service to conservation while turning a blind eye to the two million tons of toxins International Paper spews from its factories every year. (Jim Guy Tucker and the McDougals are bit players who cut deals of their own. Focus, Pinky, focus.)Pretty simple story, isn't it? Its all in the real estate records. Alexander Cockburn reported most of the details long ago. So why don't the Republicans nail the Clintons by telling the whole story? Because they pull the same shit all the time. Everybody does. The sight of Senate Banking Committee hearings run by Al D'Amato -- an avid day-trader on inside stock information -- would be laughable, if it wasn't such a tragic illustration of why American politics suck. And Bob Doles no help, either. The guy obstructed every campaign finance reform measure for the last twenty years and holds the FEC record for fines paid for violating federal election laws. We will never have a government of and for the people until the elections to choose the government are financed by the people. And that the spokes-models who call themselves journalists can keep a straight face as they chronicle this pathetic charade should convince you to unplug your TV for good.