As Democrats and the mainstream media provide round-the-clock criticism and coverage of the scandal involving Republican former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, and as they graft onto it a spate of suggestions that Speaker Dennis Hastert is to blame for not investigating Foley sooner, the Democrats and the media should stand accused of the rankest hypocrisy -- for they have pardoned pedophilia-related behavior far worse than what Foley is (so far) accused of doing.
Before unloading on the hypocrites of the left, it is worth noting that some of us on the right have been criticizing the Republican congressional leadership's ethics for years. Attacks on the ethics of political opponents should be considered valid only to the extent that one is willing to keep one's own house in order.
But the fact is that not once but twice -- once as governor and once as president -- Bill Clinton gave official executive pardons to scofflaws either convicted or believably accused not just of sexually explicit conversations with minors, but of the actual sexual acts of with minors. Yet the media and the Democrats (the two parts of the de facto U.S. Party of the Left) raised either no criticism, or barely a peep, against the lack of moral judgment by Clinton that was far worse than that by an ethically somnolent Speaker Hastert. Whereas Hastert merely failed to investigate some icky messages, Clinton gave an official imprimatur to actions already documented.
First, there was the case of then-U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds. He was serving a seven-year sentence for convictions on 15 counts of wire fraud, bank fraud, and other corruption, and for having sex with a 16-year-old campaign worker. At the behest of the not-very-Rev. Jesse Jackson, Clinton included him in a group of 176 pardons issued on the last day of his presidency (after which Jackson hired Reynolds to be, of all things, a youth counselor). While Clinton did indeed feel a good deal of media heat for those pardons in toto, it was for other, campaign-finance-related pardons rather than for the pedophile Reynolds that he endured the most criticism.
Unfortunately, Clinton's pardon of that deviant had a precedent in Arkansas -- a precedent in which neither the mainstream media nor congressional Democrats showed the slightest interest despite years of efforts by conservative critics to convince them of the relevance of the issue.
When Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas, one of his big fund-raisers (and, by some unconfirmed but oft-believed reports, a partying companion) was a man named Dan Lasater, who also at one point employed Clinton's brother Roger. Lasater eventually was convicted of having, on numerous documented occasions, served as a distributor of significant amounts of cocaine. But that's not all he did. Among the official files on Lasater that Gov. Clinton was expected to review was a sworn affidavit from one Patricia Smith. In the affidavit, Ms. Smith swore that she had been 16 years old and a virgin until Lasater, in her words, "plied me with cocaine" in return for sex. She said, with great descriptive detail, that Lasater did so not once but numerous times.
Yet despite this evidence of alleged sex with a minor combined with narcotics use, in files full of other egregious drug-related behavior for which Mr. Lasater was convicted, Gov. Clinton gave Lasater an official pardon -- explaining that Lasater needed the pardon in order again to acquire a firearms permit for recreational hunting purposes. But the mainstream media never showed any interest in this story.
The point in dredging up this history is not to excuse Hastert, not one bit, for his inability to see that the suggestive Foley e-mails merited further investigation. The point is to ask why dirty talk by a Republican is treated as being far more serious than positively depraved actions by Democrats. And to ask why Hastert, whose sin was negligence, should be held to a higher standard than Clinton, whose sins, twice, involved official commutations of criminal penalties.
A pox on all their houses.
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