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DID CLINTONS PRETEND TO FIGHT GREED WHEN THEY WERE REALLY EMBRACING IT?

SHARE DID CLINTONS PRETEND TO FIGHT GREED WHEN THEY WERE REALLY EMBRACING IT?

And so the second year of the surest one-term presidency in history begins with an uneasy feeling that we are lost in time.

Specifically, we are revisiting the '80s.You may remember the '80s - it was the decade of greed. It was a time when a lot of Americans changed economic classes and in doing that spawned a resentment that Bill Clinton would ride to the White House.

In his yearlong campaign for president, a year of evasions and lies and promises and more evasions and lies, nothing was as clear-cut or as honest as the class war that Clinton fought against those who made money in the 1980s.

More specifically, those who made money at the expense of the middle class. He promised to raise taxes on the rich and cut taxes for the middle class, and those promises - more than the promises to cut the deficit - got him elected.

It was not all that easy, however, and there were some uneasy moments for Clinton along the way. There were enough of them, in fact, so that the subject of his involvement in the Whitewater Development Corp. and a failed Arkansas savings and loan was quickly put aside when a Denver lawyer and Clinton friend named James Lyons issued a report stating that Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton had lost almost $70,000 in the deal.

Lyons' findings went unchallenged during the campaign, although now it develops that if such a loss occurred, it went unreported on the Clintons' tax forms.

It develops, in fact, that with many of Whitewater's financial records "missing," there is only Lyons' word that the loss ever existed.

We know with more certainty that when he killed himself last July 20, Vincent Foster, the White House deputy counsel and longtime friend of the Clintons, was in possession of papers that were generated through the Clintons' partnership in Whitewater. The same day Foster committed suicide, these papers were removed from Foster's office by people operating in the Clintons' behalf.

We know that Attorney General Janet Reno, who took office on the promise to stay above politics, steadfastly refused - along with the White House - to name a special counsel to look into the matter, and changed her mind only a few hours after Clinton bowed to pressure and decided a special counsel was necessary.

And finally we know that Hillary Clinton can't imagine why anybody is still interested in the case. The answer, of course, is that people are always interested in what you are trying to hide.

In this case, they are interested in allegations that money was illegally moved from the failing savings and loan into Whitewater, that Clinton's campaign debts - ones he was responsible for personally - were paid off by laundered savings and loan money.

They are interested because it looks very much as if the Clintons, back in the mid-1980s, were charter members of the decade of greed themselves.

That they were willing to let taxpayers pick up bills generated by their financial and political ambition.

That the commander in chief in the great war on class is simply a failed player from the other side.