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President Gold Digger.

Funny how the insults the Clinton Administration has been hurling at Paula Jones seem to bounce back and stick to the President. White House staffers and their friends in the press--including the now-penitent Evan Thomas of Newsweek--called Jones a "gold digger" and "trailer trash," and implied that she was sleazy enough to prostitute herself for money and fame.

But even as the White House struggles to discredit Jones, all the other scandals swirling around this Administration make Clinton himself look more like a gold digger and a prostitute every day.

Clinton's unseemly, and in some cases illegal, courtship of the rich is the flip side of his contempt for ordinary citizens like Paula Jones. Here is a President who holds himself above the law, and who flouts the public interest more flagrantly and more obscenely than any previous President.

The question of when Paula Jones will get her day in court is really a question about whether this President can continue to blow off the public.

The Supreme Court is right to worry about government grinding to a halt if a judge can order the President to forgo his duties on any given day to appear in court. But surely, between fundraising events, Clinton can find a little time to answer Jones's charges. The courts should agree to let the President reschedule court appearances that he says conflict with his job, but they should start the proceedings in the Jones case immediately. If the President skips out repeatedly or for frivolous reasons, he'll be disciplined in the court of public opinion.

If Jones's story is accurate, Clinton was enormously arrogant and abusive toward her.

It is clearly a violation of the privileges of office for a governor to dispatch state troopers to bring a woman to his hotel room for sex.

And it is clearly sexual harassment if, as Jones says, Clinton let her know that he was friends with her boss, and then told her to keep quiet, leading her to fear for her job. Jones also says that Clinton fondled her against her will, exposed himself, and asked for oral sex.

It's not a pretty picture. And there is plenty of reason to believe Jones is telling the truth. She reacted immediately, told co-workers her story, and appeared visibly shaken. She told one friend to keep her story a secret because she was afraid she might lose her job.

Jones has been through a long ordeal, and she has not received a fair hearing. Her allegations are serious. She deserves to be taken seriously.

A lot of people have come around to this view. They include Evan Thomas and other reporters who originally bought the White House line on Jones.

Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women, recently said that if Jones can prove her charges are true, Clinton ought to step down. That's the strongest statement Ireland has made on the case, after enduring a lot of criticism from the left and the right for not rallying to Jones's defense.

"We've shown we don't pull any punches with the Clinton Administration or anyone else," Ireland said. "It's frustrating that we'd be pilloried, since we were the ones who, from the first days, said no matter what her accent, or where she's from, she deserves to be heard."

But Ireland is personally not in favor of an immediate trial. "Not because I have any love of Clinton," she says, "but I see in February a Congressional vote on family planning that's going to affect millions of women, and a fight on welfare, and I would prefer not to have the White House distracted from the issues at hand."

That argument would carry more weight if the Clinton Administration had not shown itself to be so corrupt--and so easily distracted by matters like fundraising and image-polishing that have little to do with the public good.

The bigger scandal is not just what happened to Jones, but what is happening to everyone who can't afford to buy representation from our own government. Clinton is prostituting himself to wealthy interests at home and abroad, and happily screwing the public. For that, he should answer to all of us.
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Title Annotation:Paula Jones v. Bill Clinton
Publication:The Progressive
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 1, 1997
Previous Article:Calling Archibald Cox.
Next Article:Funeral for a friend.

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