The New York Times has an article today full of lavish praise for former President Bill Clinton from his long-time persecutor, Whitewater’s lead prosecutor Kenneth Starr.
Starr’s unstinting pursuit of Clinton — including down the scent of every potential sexual tidbit and including harassment of high school students — ultimately produced a backlash (and would have come up empty but for Clinton’s Oval Office encounters with Monica Lewinsky). Clinton left office with sky-high popularity and Starr looked like an overzealous, pious Javert with poor judgment.
Maybe Starr is seeking to wrap himself in Clinton’s aura amid another sex scandal — he’s president at Baylor, enduring a football sex scandal in which Starr has been faulted for lack of leadership.
The article quotes Starr as lamenting the deep anger in current politics and praising Clinton’s philanthropy in the years since he left the presidency.
His remarks seemed almost to absolve Mr. Clinton, if not to exonerate him.
“There are certain tragic dimensions which we all lament,” Mr. Starr said in a panel discussion on the presidency at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
“That having been said, the idea of this redemptive process afterwards, we have certainly seen that powerfully” in Mr. Clinton’s post-presidency, he continued, adding, “President Carter set a very high standard, which President Clinton clearly continues to follow.”
He called Mr. Clinton “the most gifted politician of the baby boomer generation.”
“His genuine empathy for human beings is absolutely clear,” Mr. Starr said. “It is powerful, it is palpable and the folks of Arkansas really understood that about him — that he genuinely cared. The ‘I feel your pain’ is absolutely genuine.”
Speaking of Starr, here’s a Texas blogger who thinks Starr will take the fall for the sex scandal at Baylor by being removed as president.