There could be no better verification of the tactics and moral approach to the 1996 Bill Clinton presidential campaign than what was disclosed earlier this week in congressional hearings looking into campaign financing.
Two weeks before the 1996 election, presidential advisers were fretting over the growing public and congressional furor over the emerging fund-raising scandal.
Leon Panetta, Clinton's chief of staff, is reported to have asked, "What do you think will become of this?"
An aide answered that the Federal Election Commission "won't be able to finish an investigation before (the) election."
According to an Associated Press report, this conversation never was meant to be public but was included in more than 200 pages of notes turned over to congressional investigators. The notes and quotes were part of records kept as an informal diary, starting in 1995, as an informal supplement to the president's archives.
GOP investigators had subpoenaed all White House fund-raising documents months ago, but the diary notes were not delivered until last Monday, after Senate hearings on the fund-raising scandal had ended. And almost two years after Clinton moved into the White House.
The diary of White House conversations was written by Clinton's records manager, Janis Kearney, who has deep political ties to Clinton. Her husband is White House personnel director and she apparently was given free rein to attend and record sensitive conversations deep within the White House.
What these diary notes show is that the guiding philosophy of the Clinton administration was, and is, "the end justifies the means."
Do whatever has to be done to win the election, whether it is making promises and pledges during the campaign, knowing such commitments cannot and will not be honored; engaging in illegal fund-raising tactics knowing that the election will be over before any kind of meaningful investigation or censure could take place; refusing to produce subpoenaed materials or not delivering those documents until long after congressional investigators had sought the information; or in almost every case, offering some lame excuse as to why these notes and documents could not be found or how they just happened to turn up unexpectedly or by accident.
This is the time of the year when "good will toward men" is supposed to be the theme of the land, but the behavior and actions of Clinton, Al Gore and a large number of their top aides, some cabinet members and others make it difficult to have kind or respectful thoughts about these individuals who are leading our country.
Bending, if not deliberately breaking, the law, thumbing their noses at congressional investigators, playing the public for chumps and lying to the public all seem to be standard operating procedure for the Clinton administration.
There is a lot of talk these days about the importance of highly publicized college and professional athletes serving as role models for the younger generation. Unfortunately, there are frequent stories about disgusting personal behavior by some of these athletes to set terrible examples for youngsters.
It's one thing for a highly paid, well-publicized and self-centered athlete to misbehave and reflect poorly on himself and his sport. It's quite another thing, however, for a president, members of his Cabinet and other top aides to behave as have many in the Clinton administration.
The president and those he appoints to top jobs should set the highest possible standards.
Many in the Clinton administration recently have tried to downplay the fact that a former U.S. ambassador lied about being wounded during a torpedo attack on a Merchant Marine vessel in World War II. The fact is he was never in the Merchant Marines, and he never was wounded. And there may be other lies in his official resume.
This former ambassador was accorded the honor and privilege of being buried in Arlington National Cemetery, due to his "military service."
Once it was verified the late ambassador had lied, Clinton did little other than to tell the man's widow what a fine ambassador her husband had been and how well he served his country. He was a liar who was made a U.S. ambassador. That should be fairly embarrassing, but apparently it didn't faze Clinton and others in his White House inner circle. They said nothing about the fact that the man was a liar and that this was wrong.
With the public accepting such actions and weak moral character, and with the name of the game being do whatever it takes to get elected, what can the public expect in the way of Democratic campaign tactics in the 1998 congressional elections and the 2000 presidential election?
It's not a pleasant situation. Chances are, the tried, tested and successful philosophy of the end justifying the means will continue to be the Clinton-Gore plan of attack.
As a footnote: It is apparent Atty Gen. Janet Reno, a Clinton appointee sees nothing wrong in the fund-raising mess, so again, the end seems to justify the means.