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Clinton’s latest sorry episode

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Former President Bill Clinton seems to have trouble taking responsibility for his actions.

That certainly was the case regarding the tawdry affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, where Clinton first denied that it took place and then focused his energies not on contrition but on attacking the prosecutors. The end result of that development was that he became only the second president to be impeached, although he later was acquitted by the Senate.

He seems to be following a similar course of action regarding the almost incomprehensible pardoning of wealthy fugitive Marc Rich. The circumstances surrounding that dubious decision have led to investigations despite the fact Clinton is no longer in office. Given the evidence, one would think his comments would be directed toward contrition and apology.

But Clinton seems intent on spin control instead. This week, he wrote an opinion column for the New York Times (and subsequently published by the Deseret News on Monday) justifying his decision to pardon Rich. What he wrote not only will not put the matter to rest, it will only put it more in the public eye.

New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who when he was a U.S. attorney obtained indictments against Rich for fraud, tax evasion and racketeering, said Clinton's piece raises more questions than it answers. Many others have echoed those sentiments.

Absent contrition, the former president would be much better served to take a low profile. Saying nothing is far better than an attempt at damage control.

Several people are questioning the accuracy of what Clinton wrote. Among other things, he said "the case for the pardons was reviewed and advocated" by three Republican attorneys: Leonard Garment, a former Nixon White House official; William Bradford Reynolds, who ran the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Reagan; and Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff; in addition to former White House counsel Jack Quinn, who also represented Rich.

All three Republicans quickly dismissed Clinton's assertion. "I was astounded. I have had no communications with the Clinton administration or the president or Jack Quinn having to do with the effort to obtain the pardon at any time," Reynolds told the Associated Press.

Whom to believe? Based on his not so glorious track record, Clinton has misrepresented the facts once again. It's another sad and needless commentary on how not to leave office.