Living With the Clintons: Bill’s Arkansas bodyguards tell the story the press missed.
(Page 3 of 8)
Still, the Clintons hold positions that, it is possible to argue, ought to be subject to a higher standard, particularly for people so inclined to argue for their public policies in a moral context. While rumors of extramarital dalliances have surrounded many presidents in this century, the scale of Clinton’s past indiscretions, if it has been sustained in the White House, as has been widely rumored, would appear to far exceed that of any of his predecessors, with the possible exception of John Kennedy. If, as the troopers describe it, he is a sexual predator and exploiter of women, his behavior may be more egregious than that which destroyed the political careers and reputations of Gary Hart, John Tower, and most recently Bob Packwood.
But there is a larger point in the case of Clinton that goes well beyond any moral or ethical judgment about — or prurient interest in — his private life. When sources come forward of their own volition to describe how Clinton’s private activities have caused lies to be told, threats to be made, and cover-ups to be undertaken, an issue of public integrity is raised, and the public’s right to know outweighs a public figure’s claim to privacy or journalistic discretion. Thus, even if one is inclined to give the issues of character, judgment, and self-control raised by the troopers’ account of Clinton’s behavior little weight — much of the material should strike readers as more farcical than scandalous, a view shared by the troopers, who chuckled through some of the telling — it became evident in the reporting of this story that Clinton and his surrogates continue to regard his private behavior as a political time bomb. Their effort to try to thwart publication of the story is itself newsworthy — and quite illustrative of how this information was kept from voters during the 1992 campaign.
Shortly after my first session with the troopers, three of the four (Perry and the two who wished to remain off the record) received telephone calls from their former supervisor on the governor’s security detail, Captain Raymond L. “Buddy” Young, who last July was named by Clinton to head a regional Federal Emergency Management Agency office in Texas. Perry said Young told him that he was aware that they had hired lawyers and were thinking of going public with a book or a story. Perry said that Young told him, “I represent the president of the United States. Why do you want to destroy him over this? You don’t know anything anyway.… This is not a threat, but I wanted you to know that your own actions could bring about dire consequences.” Patterson said Young sent him a handwritten note expressing concern for Patterson’s health.
In an interview, Young confirmed that he had been in contact with the three troopers to discuss this matter. “I called Roger as a friend, and I told him I thought this was wrong, it was unethical, and it was a disgrace to security people. But I never said I spoke for the president, because I don’t.” Young denied having been in contact with the president or anyone in the White House on this subject. Young also confirmed that he sent a note to Patterson about his health, but denied any implication that the note was a veiled threat. “Larry has heart problems, and I was concerned about his cholesterol,” Young said.
He went on to say that the thrust of Patterson and Perry’s account was not true and that I should look closely at their motives. “These boys made this up to sell a book and because they were mad that Clinton didn’t give them promotions,” he said. [FOOTNOTE 4: Young is currently being sued in Arkansas for allegedly lying in federal court to discredit a witness who claimed to have information about illegal drug money being funneled through the Arkansas bond market during Clinton’s tenure.]
Young also confirmed that one of the two troopers who decided not to go on the record — but whom Young voluntarily named, Danny Ferguson — subsequently obtained part-time employment at a Little Rock company, National Safety Consultants, in which Young owns an interest. “I started this consulting service for safety training for truck drivers a few years back as a part-time deal. I own an interest, but I don’t have anything to do with the operation. They subcontracted with Danny. But it had absolutely nothing to do with what we’re talking about. It was totally unrelated.” Young also confirmed that the second trooper interviewed by me who decided not to come forward — whom he also voluntarily named, Ronnie Anderson — had a part-time job at this same company that pre-dated our first meeting. The job provides several thousand dollars a year in supplemental income to Anderson, Young said.
Ferguson also confirmed the arrangement but denied that it was related to his having decided not to go on the record with his stories about the Clintons. “I talked to Buddy more than a year ago about this job. But when I started, it was Ronnie Anderson who arranged it. Buddy didn’t even know about it until after I started. I started a month ago, and I only made $190 last month [November]. If I was going to do something not to talk, it wouldn’t be for that kind of money,” Ferguson said.
Another attempt to suppress the story was allegedly made by Paul “Rocky” Wilmoth, a Clinton fundraiser and Arkansas bulk-oil dealer and distributor. According to Perry, Wilmoth recently stopped by the governor’s residence and told two troopers who have not been involved with this story, Frank Tappin and Derrick Flowers, to convey to Perry and Patterson that they would be “destroyed” if they talked to the press. Wilmoth denied the story, as did Flowers. Tappin declined to comment.
Perry said that Ferguson told him that Clinton called him personally while he was on duty at the Arkansas governor’s mansion on at least two occasions after our first interview. During the initial call, according to Perry, Clinton let it be known that he was willing to offer favors in return for the troopers’ refusal to cooperate further. Clinton told Ferguson to tell Roger Perry that “Roger can have whatever he wants [not to talk].” In another call to Ferguson, Clinton asked what precisely Perry and Patterson were saying, Perry said. “If you tell me what stories Roger and Larry are telling, I can go in the back door and handle it and clean it up,” Clinton allegedly said. Perry said that Ferguson told him that in the course of the conversations Clinton offered Ferguson a federal job — either as the U.S. marshal in Little Rock or as a regional FEMA director — explicitly in exchange for his help in thwarting publication of any stories. This could be a violation by Clinton of a criminal statute barring the solicitation of money or anything of value (in this case, information) in consideration for the promise of federal employment. Ferguson said, “I’m not going to confirm anything Roger is saying I said.” Asked if he was denying receiving calls from Clinton, he said, “I’ve talked to a lawyer and I’m not denying it. No comment.” (The White House did not return calls for this story.)
These rumblings from the Clinton machine notwithstanding, Perry and Patterson have hung tough and decided to be the first to pierce the shield of secrecy surrounding Clinton’s indiscretions that has been so effectively maintained up to now. Readers should be forewarned about two aspects of their story. First, the many subjective observations and judgments made about the Clintons are the troopers’ own and should be considered in the light of the troopers’ inherent biases and limitations. That said, the unvarnished observations of these men warrant disclosure because they provide the kind of texture that would likely not be revealed until presidential biographies were published, years or decades after the Clintons left office. Second, the reader should be warned that when the troopers are describing events they witnessed and quoting verbatim statements made in their presence, much of what they have to say is vulgar tabloid fare. This, however, reflects not on them, but on the behavior of the first couple.
As the troopers saw it, the Clintons’ relationship is an effective political partnership, more a business relationship than a marriage. They described Bill as the public face, the communicator, the conciliator, a man who likes to be liked and even talked with them about his “star” qualities. “One time we got to talking while I was driving him back from a political event and he said, ‘You know, I’m going to have to stay in politics now, because I’m too old to be a movie star,’” Patterson recalled.
The troopers charted a distinct change between the headstrong radical of Clinton’s first term — “kind of a hippie,” as Perry put it — and the chastened compromiser of later years. Rejection by the voters in 1980 left Clinton with a propensity to try to please all sides, therefore often pleasing none, and an aversion to taking potentially unpopular decisions, according to Patterson and Perry.
Clinton is a very quick study — Perry remembered a time when Clinton was filming a commercial and took a typed page he had never seen before, glanced at it for less than a minute, and then recited it verbatim into the camera — and a highly energetic, tenacious worker, consumed by ambition. “He would call legislators late into the evening, lobbying for votes,” said Patterson, “and we had to place the calls, waking up important state legislators well after midnight.” One thing he wasn’t was lazy. Clinton thrived on four hours of sleep a night, they said.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online