Strength of character or character flaw?
© 1998

Despite occasional failures, I really try to focus on what is right or wrong rather than who. Notwithstanding criticism of the s.o.b. (supporters of bill) brigade, I have been, and am, an equal opportunity offender. I have eviscerated Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott with the same analysis I have leveled at Bill Clinton and his myriad rogues. It has been widely reported that Congressman Dan Burton is flawed. He has admitted to having had an affair, and having fathered a 15-year-old son he had not previously publicly acknowledged. President Bill Clinton has kinda, sorta admitted to a couple of affairs, and has routinely lied, and compelled others to lie. However, the two tainted politicians are as different as right and wrong ... or are they? These two political rivals are VERY different in many ways. The way each man is handling the embarrassment is very telling of the character (or lack of character) of the men. Clinton's "bimbo eruptions" have become legend. The president's "inappropriate" relationships, and the attendant lies, obfuscation, and policy of "deny, delay, destroy" have been routine and ongoing. Clinton has lied to most everyone around him, and has imposed on supporters to lie for him (presumably without their knowledge in some cases). Burton's infidelity wasn't only known and discussed within the privacy of his family, but he also assumed responsibility for it. He pays child support, and he has endeavored to protect not only his own political persona, but also the innocent son he fathered and his previous girlfriend. That is to Burton's credit. However, unanswered questions which may soon be revealed could further undermine and potentially destroy the congressman's credibility and career. It has been alleged that Vanity Fair magazine (with White House guidance and support) launched an investigation into the Burton past. Hundreds of interviews were conducted, and non-combatants in the political war have been subjected to significant pain. "The boy is very, very upset," Burton said. "And I was concerned about the well-being of the mother, and the boy and their family, and what they were being put through." Burton (like Clinton) knew the storm was coming. However, Clinton spent seven months lying, obstructing, massaging words, compelling friends, supporters, and cabinet officials to sell the big lie. Clinton ran up the cost of the Independent Counsel while hypocritically bemoaning the cost he was responsible for inflating. When finally, under major duress, he was required to speak to the American people, he blew it. His August 14th non-apology mea culpa was a miserable, and embarrassing failure. The Indianapolis Star's Sept. 5 editorial noted that "Vanity Fair wouldn't have sent a reporter to Indiana to dig into Burton's past if the congressman weren't chairman of a committee investigating the president." The Star says "Reporters investigating Burton's sex life -- or the sex lives of any other elected official -- should ask not only if an affair occurred, but ALSO if that affair affected his performance as a congressman. For his part, Burton has focused on possibly illegal fund-raising, not Clinton's sex life. But the president's defenders want all of us to focus on sex. By doing so, they hope to scare investigators from entering the larger mud pits in which Bill Clinton has wallowed." I've been saying since January that "this isn't about sex. Forget the lurid details. This is about perjury, suborning perjury, obstruction of justice and the abuse of power under the color of authority." Burton has said "Two years ago I became chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight and joined a long list of individuals who have come under attack from people inside and outside the Clinton administration. I was prepared for this, and I made a promise to the American people that I would never allow these attacks to deter my efforts to uncover the truth." Friday before the stuff hit the fan, two of my colleagues, Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan interviewed Congressman Burton on KSFO in San Francisco. Burton told them he has received "extortion letters" that he has now turned over to the FBI. He also reported having received "Federal Express packages that had been opened and the contents had been photocopied." The implication of this under reported fact is clear to those not blinded by partisan b.s. Someone was trying to blackmail Burton over his sexual past. By the way, that IS A FELONY, and if (as is being suggested) it originated in the White House with Sid "Vicious" Blumenthal or Harold Ickes, the political consequences will be epic. The president has contended that "private consensual sex" is private, and nobody's business. However, a growing list of key Democrats has been forcefully noting "that dog don't hunt." Illicit sex involving ANY government official is always about potential blackmail and influencing decisions. Insiders report "... there may already be enough votes in the House to Impeach and they may just slam dunk it and send it off to the Senate for a trial." Initially I thought "Whorealdo" (Jerry Rivers) and others may be salivating over the Burton problems; however, the strength of character Burton has, and is, displaying may have the paradoxical effect of making things even tougher for the Clintonistas. However, with new claims of a Burton "ghost employee," and questions about the specific job functions of Claudia Keller, Burton may again return to thin ice. Burton said "I have apologized to my wife and family, whom I love, I apologize to my constituents. We live in a society that rightfully depends upon people taking responsibility for their actions. I have done so in this matter." Clinton has not. "I have never perjured myself." Burton said. Clinton equivocated and plays with language. Burton: "I have never committed obstruction of justice." Clinton's list is too long and yet to be judged. "I have been," says the beleaguered congressman, "as straight as an arrow in my public duty." Clinton allegedly bends a little to the left ... and his arrow is broken. However, if (and this is a big "if" generated by rumor control central) Burton has abused his office by using official funds to pay Claudia Keller for services which have been less than official, no amount of moralizing will save him. Hopefully the congressman will "sooner rather than later" respond to the specific questions about his alleged staffing practices, and candidly deal with the official capacity of Keller and her role in his "public duty."