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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-14 21:30:40
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After the story broke, I called David Kendall and assured him that I had not suborned perjury or obstructed justice. It was clear to both of us that Starr was trying to create a firestorm to force me from office. He was off to a flying start, but I thought that if I could survive the public pounding for two weeks, the smoke would begin to clear, the press and the public would focus on Starrs tactics, and a more balanced view of the matter would emerge. I knew I had made a terrible mistake, and I was determined not to compound it by allowing Starr to drive me from office. For now, the hysteria was overwhelming.

I was heartsick about losing Henry Cisneros. We had been friends since before I ran for President, and he had done a brilliant job at HUD. For more than a year, Henry had been subject to an investigation by an independent counsel for making incorrect statements about his personal expenses in his FBI vetting interview for the HUD job. The law made it a crime for a nominee to make a material misstatement, one that would affect the confirmation process. Senator Al DAmato, whose committee had recommended Cisneross confirmation, wrote a letter saying that Henrys misstatement of the details of his expenses would not have affected his vote or that of any other senator on the committee. Prosecutors from the Justice Departments public integrity office argued against a special prosecutor.

For now, I just hoped that the Democrats wouldnt be pushed by the media pounding into calling for my resignation, and that I would be able to repair the breach I had caused with my family and with my staff, cabinet, and the people who had believed in me through all the years of constant attacks.

The brightest spot in November 1970 was the election of a young Democratic governor, Dale Bumpers, in Arkansas. He handily defeated former governor Faubus in the primary and won the general election over Governor Rockefeller in a landslide. Bumpers was an ex-marine and a great trial lawyer. He was funny as all get-out and could talk an owl out of a tree. And he was a genuine progressive who had led his small hometown of Charleston, in conservative western Arkansas, to peacefully integrate its schools, in stark contrast to the turmoil in Little Rock. Two years later he was reelected by a large margin, and two years after that he became one of our U.S. senators. Bumpers proved that the power of leadership to lift and unite people in a common cause could overcome the Souths old politics of division. Thats what I wanted to do. I didnt mind backing candidates who were almost certain to lose when we were fighting for civil rights or against the war. But sooner or later, you have to win if you want to change things. I went to Yale Law School to learn more about policy. And in case my political aspirations didnt work out, I wanted a profession from which I could never be forced to retire.

In July, as I continued to push my agenda at home, Dick Holbrooke flew to Belgrade to see Milosevic in an attempt to resolve the Kosovo crisis; Prime Minister Hashimoto resigned after election losses in Japan; Nelson Mandela got married to Graa Machel, the lovely widow of a former president of Mozambique and a leading figure in the struggle to stop the use of children in Africas wars; and Ken Starr continued to build his case against me.

At the end of my address, I noted that, a few days earlier, Representative John Paul Capps, a friend and strong supporter of my program, was quoted in the press as saying that the people were getting sick and tired of Bill Clinton giving the same old speech. I told the legislature that I was sure many people were tired of hearing me say the same things, but that the essence of political responsibility is being able to concentrate on what is really important for a long period of time until the problem is solved. I said I would talk about something else when the unemployment rate is below the national average and income above the national average in our state . . . when no company passes us by because they think we cant carry the load in the new world economy . . . when no young person in this state ever has to leave home to find a good job. Until then, weve got to do our duty.


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