JONES' CASE MAY BE TIP OF ICEBERG FOR CLINTON.
SLOWLY but surely, the scandals are coming home to Bill Clinton.
In an embarrassing and stinging rebuke for the president, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Paula Corbin Jones can proceed with her sexual harassment lawsuit against the president.
Clinton had unsuccessfully argued that his time was so valuable, that any lawsuit arising from his private actions must be delayed until he leaves office in January 2001.
In this landmark ruling, the highest court in the land reaffirmed the basic American principle that no individual, including the president, is above the law and that the theory of the divine right of kings does not apply to the chief executive in an American constitutional democracy.
The president is accountable for his private actions, just like the rest of us.
The specifics of Jones' allegations against Clinton are so lurid that I am reluctant to describe them in detail on the pages of this family friendly newspaper.
But one thing is absolutely clear: Should the charges prove even partially accurate in a court of law, it will amount to one of the most outrageous and predatory examples of sexual harassment ever known to have been committed by a senior government official, not to mention an individual who has since become president of the United States.
While the seriousness of the accusations against President Clinton make Anita Hill's charges against Clarence Thomas pale in comparison, they are also far more credible. They include clear and convincing evidence, that then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, the boss of Jones' boss, personally initiated a private encounter with Paula Jones, a lowly $6.25-an-hour Arkansas state employee, in a Little Rock hotel room.
A meeting that Clinton initially flat-out denied ever occurred, and then later changed his statement to having ``no recollection'' of ever meeting Jones.
Jones' evidence includes strong corroborative public statements, from at least six witnesses who, complete with telling detail, corroborate the seamy specifics of her allegations. She has also passed a polygraph test administered by a respected expert.
The Jones case against Clinton appears to be so strong that the president and his army of $495-an-hour lawyers have chosen to exploit every legal delaying tactic in the book, to avoid confronting that mountain of evidence under oath in a court of law.
Indeed, the high-powered Clinton legal team has spent millions of dollars in a desperate effort to delay discovery proceedings and suppress the evidence from ever reaching a jury.
It is truly difficult for many average folks to understand why the president, who claims to be totally innocent of the accusations, did not move quickly and early on to dispose of these ``frivolous'' charges against him. He could have simply revealed all of the pertinent facts, cooperated in discovery proceedings and sought a summary judgment for dismissal, on the grounds of lack of evidence.
Many Americans are truly bewildered at why our president would choose to hide behind fancy, expensive lawyering and spend much of his time, energy and millions of dollars over the past three years, arguing from one court to the other that he is too busy to face the charges against him.
Surely the president can see the almost comical contradiction in such an argument, which only serves to raise further suspicions about his innocence. On the one hand he is too busy to face the charges; on the other hand, he is not too busy to spend three full years in court arguing that he is too busy.
If indeed the president is the victim of a fabrication, why would he go to such great lengths to avoid facing the evidence which presumably could prove his innocence?
Why would he purposefully initiate legal steps that would drag this embarrassing issue out, over a period of years, providing late-night television comics with endless material.
One logical answer is that he knows the most likely alternative to the current undesirable situation is something far worse.
Many Americans also find it highly suspicious, to say the least, that the president just happened to be in possession of an insurance policy that specifically covers legal fees for sexual harassment lawsuits.
Is this a total coincidence? Or did the president know that he had reason to be concerned, given his risky conduct, that such a lawsuit was a serious possibility, which would warrant his taking out a sexual harassment insurance policy as a prudent precaution.
Until now, the president's lawyers have been successful in blocking Jones from officially taking discovery from any individual, including from an Arkansas state trooper, Danny Lee Ferguson, who has publicly admitted to having escorted Jones to Clinton's hotel room, at Clinton's direction.
Instead, the president, through his operatives, has chosen a path of diverting attention from the relevant facts and evidence of this case, by initiating an ugly public relations campaign depicting Jones as a politically motivated, unreliable, trailer-park trash, promiscuous, money-grubbing, fame-seeking slut, with big hair and too much makeup, who is a willing tool of right-wing conspirators.
The president's hatchet man, James Carvell, was referring to Jones when he said: ``drag a $100 bill through a trailer park, and there's no telling what you might attract.''
But the smear and delay tactics can only carry one so far.
At some point, the spin rhetoric will collide with the cold hard facts and the evidence in a court of law, unless a settlement is reached.
Yet after all of this time, after all of the attacks, adamant denials and smears, a sudden settlement with Jones will amount to an admission of at least some degree of guilt. A devastating development in and of itself.
Given that Paula Jones' accusations against the president are far more serious, and far more corroborated than Anita Hill's ever were, it is also legitimate to ask why many in the media, and many in various feminist organizations, have acted for so long as if Paula Jones does not even exist.
Feminist organizations in particular, are conspicuous by their absence in this debate. They are truly missing in action. While Paula Jones has suddenly become a national symbol of the evils of sexual harassment, feminist organizations have not only failed to rally to her cause, but have scurried for the tall grass, exposing monumental hypocrisy.
Don't expect fancy dinners in Jones' honor to be held by the National Organization for Women, or the American Bar Association, as was done for Anita Hill. Don't expect Hillary Clinton to thank Paula Jones for having ``transformed consciousness and changed history with her courageous testimony,'' as she thanked Anita Hill.
There will be none of that.
I suspect that this latest Supreme Court ruling is only the first taste of things to come. Many other shoes could be dropped at any time.
The special prosecutor could announce high-level indictments in Whitewater, Filegate or Travelgate.
And it is very possible that a new special prosecutor will be appointed to investigate the Clinton fund-raising scandals.
Bill Clinton is like one of those habitual reckless speeders on the highway of life, in this case, political life. He will speed and speed, weaving in and out of traffic.
But one fine day, he is going to get caught and his license is going to be revoked. Either that, or he is going to crash and burn, taking a whole bunch of people with him.
If I were in the Clinton vehicle, I would consider getting out now before the inevitable unfolds.
Photo: Paula Jones won her case and the right to pursue a sexual harassment suit against President Clinton.
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jun 1, 1997|
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