Two days ago, Mitt Romney told the assembled FVW delegates that the Obama administration had leaked vital national security secrets for political gain. He produced not a shred of evidence to support is demand that a Special Counsel be unleashed on the Obama Administration. Romney has had a pattern of making wild and unsupported charges, but this time he came within an inch of claiming treason.
Republicans were also demanding the creation of a special counsel to look into Darrell Issa charges against the administration in the confusing matter of its mishandling of an investigation of gun exports to Mexico. In this case, Issa described an an odd, off-the wall, NRA-supported conspiracy theory about a scheme to pass gun control legislation. Eric, who went more than the extra mile in an effort to compromise with Issa, was held in contempt. This one is hard to follow, but it may reflect rage against Attorney General Eric Holder who has upheld civil rights and opposed voter suppression in some states. For some, the fact that Holder is an African American could be a factor.
It would be useful to look at how the GOP used an independent prosecutor against Bill Clinton.
In January, 1994, President Bill Clinton surrendered to the press and appointed an independent prosecutor to look into his involvement in the failed White Water land scheme. He and Hillary invested and lost their savings in a scheme sold to them by Jim Mc Doughal, who would go on to have other problems. Whitewater was about trying to link the Clintons to McDougal's misdeeds. A independent accounting firm had already investigated the whole mater and cleared the Clintons. The press, ignored this, and circulated all sorts of calumnies and demanded that the Clintons to the press all their business papers. When this did not happen, the press demanded an independent prosecutor.
Conservatives led the clamor even though Ted Olsen had argued in court that independent counsel legislation was illegal. Antonin Scalia had warned about the political use of independent prosecutors. White House Counsel Bernie Nussbaum warned that an independent counsel would not stick to White Water but would investigate everything about the Clintons and all their friends, stopping at nothi[ng, until something was found or invented. Hillary agreed, but Clinton gave in get the story off the front page so he could pursue his domestic agenda.
Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Republican lawyer Robert Fiske independent prosecutor. He proved to be honest and thorough, but he found nothing to incriminate the Clintons. Congress passed a statute arranging for a special counsel or prosecutor to be appointed by the courts, and Reno suggested Fiske be retained. Republican demanded otherwise and Chief Justice William Rhenquist created a panel led by David Sentelle, a segregationist and protege of far-right Senator Lauch Fairchild. Judge Lawrence Silberman, another extreme conservative. They appointed fellow conservative Judge Kenneth Starr special counsel. Four months before the appointment, Starr approached James Carville at the U.S. Air Club at National Airport to say, Your guy's going down. Her's gonna get rolled. He's a crook.”
Starr had been offering legal advise and appearing on television in support of Paula Jones, a woman who claimed Governor Clinton has sexually harassed her. By the time of Starr's appointment, right-wing lawyers known as the “Elves” had prepared a perjury trap for Clinton when her case came to court. A perjury trap is an abuse of the judicial process in which someone is put under oath only to set up a perjury charge.
There is no evidence that the Jones case and the Whitewater investigations intersected for three years and five months. Over that period, Starr explored dry hole after dry hole, keeping his investigation alive by telling Congress he was reaching a critical state and feeding the press lies and distgortions. In 1996, he thought he got lucky when the White House found and turned over a box or billing records from the Rose Law Firm.
Starr claimed Hillary Clinton had hid the records and brought her before a grand jury, after first fingerprinting her and subjecting her to the perp walk. Four four hours she was grilled about why she hid the records. There was not one question about the contents of the records, which showed that she had done very little work for Jim McDoughal.
Since fall, 1995 ethics advisor Sam Dash was telling Starr he had nothing and should end the inquisition. Nevertheless, Starr pursued the Clintons and their friends relentlessly, probing all sorts of things that were not tied to Whitewater. It is this kind of inquisition that Romney and the Republicans would unleash now.
On February 17, 1997, Starr announced he would resign to become law dean at Pepperdine University, occupying a chair Richard Mellon Schaife had just created. The Pittsburgh billionaire had spent millions on the Arkansas Project, manufacturing dirt on the Clintons. Right wing writers and politicians were so angry about Starr's decision that he reversed himself and had FBI investigators focus on Clinton's womanizing. The press greedily devoured the information Scaife and Starr fed it, eventually abandoning the two source rule relevant journalistic standards.
Starr got what he wanted when Paula Jones's lawyers gave him access to telephone tapes Linda Tripp had made of Monica Lewinsky describing her sexual relationship with the president. The tapes were made illegally in Maryland, where both parties to a conversation must agree to taping. The Office of Independent Council lied to the Justice Department to get the scope of t he investigation widened. Assistant Attorney General Eric Holder was told that the tapes showed Clinton had asked Lewinsky to lie under oath about the relationship. Starr's people avoiding revealing how they had colluded with the Jones . That knowledge would have forced Holder to deny their request and it would have destroyed the credibility of the Starr Office of Independent Counsel.
Starr's attorneys and FBI agents then nabbed Lewinsky, held her in a hotel without legal representation, and terrified her into agreeing to testify against Clinton. They even threatened to jail her mother.
A famous investigative reporter agreed to hold this story so that Clinton would not know how Lewinsky would testify. Clinton walked into the perjury trap, after a fashion. The Jones legal team specified a definition of sexual contact that did not include oral sex. This led to Clinton telling Starr's grand jury that he thought the definition left him an out, and that was followed by the House impeaching Clinton, after Starr released a report heavily laden with sexual details.
Now the Republicans are hoping to unleash another special council, perhaps with someone like the zealot Starr presiding. The difference this time is that there are not any soft-headed Democrats joining in the call for a witch hunt. So far, the press has resisted repeating the enabling and partisan role it played before.
Starr's high-handed conduct and skirting of the law is worrisome and reveals a pattern of behavior one could call malignant narcissism. He saw himself as the all-good guardian of truth and believed his opponent of all manner of evil. He was unable to see any wrongs he had done, as when he repeatedly violated the secrecy of the grand jury process to leak selectively edited grand jury material to favored journalists. When called on this-- a rare event—he said he had to do this because the Clinton White House was criticizing the OIC.
Romney may not share all of Starr's extremist political views, but he does share the malignant narcissism. There is no way to know what Romney's positions are because he has changed them frequently and repeatedly lied about past ones.
Both men see themselves as the pure, virtuous guardians of truth who are battling unprincipled evil people. For that reason, these narcissists are justified in saying and doing anything.
Romney had advanced many unjustified and extremist claims against Barack Obama, but the former governor uses conventional language so that listeners think he is making reasonable arguments. In fact, he is demonizing Obama.
Repeatedly, Romney has told audiences that since taking office, Obama created no additional jobs. A few times, he admitted that Obama briefly saved the jobs of some teachers and policemen, but they were only public employees.
Romney claims that all of the jobs lost since January, 2009 were due to Obama. No explanation is offered. He seems to think that ACA is costing tons of money, but it still is not in effect.
Almost daily for months, he told people that Obama deliberately followed economic policies that he knew were wrong and would cost jobs. How can anyone know what Obama knew. In a almost gentlemanly way, Romney was saying Obama was out to wreck the American economy.
Lately, he is given to saying that Obama offered no suggestions for improving the economy after the stimulus was passed. The former Massachusetts governor says Obama spent all of his time on other schemes liberals had been brewing for a decade. The truth is that Obama offered a multitude of proposals, almost all of which were blocked by the GOP.
Now he comes close to accusing Obama of treason, and he repeatedly says Obama's ideas are so “foreign” they are hard to understand. He says Obama is not connected with the American heritage and traditions. This is a clever way of appealing to the xenophobia of the Birthers and the concerns of racists and soft-racists. The Obama campaign seems to grasp how effective this approach can be and is ignoring it with the exception of Joe Biden, who may have recently spoken out of turn about it.
Like Kenneth Starr, Romney the malignant narcissist groans and calls foul when the Democrats call out his lies and inconsistencies. He refused to release more than two annual tax returns. Knowledge that he had many secret off shore bank accounts led some to speculate that he may not have paid taxes in some years. Some thought he he had more to hide. Romney was outraged and complained he was persecuted.
He cleverly tried to take credit for some of Bain Capital's successes while avoiding blame for the pensions lost, factories closed, and jobs exported by his firm. To do so, he emphasized that he left Bain in February, 1999.
When it was found that he drew a salary through 2002 and that his name was on SEC documents as CEO and President until late 2002, he complained that he was being victimized. Of course, he was trying to have it both ways. The bulk of the Staples jobs came after February, 1999, as dis some of the worst factory closings and outsourcing. Finally, his official story was that he retired retroactively in February, 1999 and that it was unpresidential for the Obama campaign to point out his inconsistencies. Granted, the Obama campaign made one mistake. An official said that it might be illegal to claim to be president and CEO at a time when you now say you made no decisions.
Someone so focussed on himself and unable to perceive reality about his opponents should not be president of the United States. Like Mr. Starr, Romney would mostg likely be tempted to abuse power
and make rash decisions.