A trump too far?

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Kath­leen Parker

— If Donald Trump prefers com­bat­ants who aren’t cap­tured, as he once mocked John McCain, he ap­par­ently doesn’t be­lieve in tak­ing pris­on­ers, ei­ther.

The ex­cep­tion to the rule is ob­vi­ously truth. But then, ve­rac­ity is no hin­drance to the con­spir­acy-minded.

Now, Trump points out he didn’t say this “be­cause I don’t think it’s fair,” but lots of other peo­ple are say­ing that the Clin­tons had some­thing to do with Vince Fos­ter’s 1993 death, which was ruled a sui­cide.

Lots of peo­ple have also said that Barack Obama was born in Kenya. And who led that long march to­ward Looney Town? None other than Trump.

Re­al­ity check: If Obama were born in Kenya, and if the Clin­tons could so hand­ily or­ches­trate a mur­der with im­punity, then couldn’t they have been able to pull off some­thing as sim­ple as a rigged birth cer­tifi­cate? Eh?

Trump is just clever enough to de­flect re­spon­si­bil­ity for th­ese long-ago, de­fanged con­spir­acy the­o­ries by shift­ing blame to oth­ers. He’s done the same in ral­lies. If some­one in the crowd shouts an un­to­ward re­mark about a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent, Trump looks amazed and says some­thing like:

Did you hear what he just said? I would never say that Ted Cruz eats pup­pies for break­fast be­cause I don’t know that for a fact, but this guy just did.

The tem­plate has served him well. Fans go wild and Trump has cover. But im­por­tantly, the sen­ti­ment has been re­leased into the at­mos­phere and ab­sorbed into the lim­bic sys­tems of the masses.

Now that Trump has cracked the lid on Fos­ter’s cof­fin, Clin­ton-haters can lux­u­ri­ate in gos­sip, in­sin­u­a­tion and lies while en­ter­tain­ing the fan­tasy that they’re only in­ter­ested in “the truth.” And who shall be the ar­biter of that truth?

Usu­ally, we rely upon ob­jec­tive third par­ties, the me­dia or the courts. And though few peo­ple are naive enough to be­lieve that in­ves­ti­ga­tors, judges, re­porters and edi­tors can’t be cor­rupted, the re­al­ity is that Fos­ter died by his own hand. This was the con­clu­sion of the United States Park Po­lice, the Jus­tice Depart­ment, the FBI, Congress, spe­cial coun­sel Robert Fiske and in­de­pen­dent coun­sel Ken­neth Starr. Now, re­ally. If Trump were so con­cerned about the Clin­tons’ al­leged role in Fos­ter’s death, why, then, did Trump con­tinue con­tribut­ing to Clin­ton cam­paigns and causes? And why did he in­vite them to his third wed­ding? Would it be be­cause he con­sorts with mur­der­ers and thieves? I would never say such a thing be­cause that would be un­fair, but I hear a lot of peo­ple say­ing this. A lot.

The Clin­tons surely have an im­per­fect record, and gal­lons of ink have been spilled on the graves of their past his­to­ries. Some peo­ple will be­lieve what they want to be­lieve, facts to the con­trary.

But who ever would have be­lieved that Starr, he of the 1998 ex­am­i­na­tion of Bill Clin­ton’s sex life, would find com­mon cause with his for­mer tar­get? For those too young to re­mem­ber, Starr’s work re­vealed ev­ery lurid de­tail of Clin­ton’s re­la­tion­ship with Mon­ica Lewin­sky and ul­ti­mately led to im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings.

Speak­ing re­cently on a panel, Starr said it was un­for­tu­nate that Clin­ton’s legacy is viewed only through the lens of that “un­pleas­ant­ness.”

“There are cer­tain tragic di­men­sions which we all lament. That hav­ing been said, the idea of this re­demp­tive process af­ter­wards, we have cer­tainly seen that pow­er­fully” in Clin­ton’s post-pres­i­dency life.

Starr has per­haps soft­ened with time. Or maybe his dis­tance from Wash­ing­ton — both as dean of Pep­per­dine Uni­ver­sity School of Law and, more re­cently, as pres­i­dent of Bay­lor Uni­ver­sity — al­lowed him space to re­flect on those years. Chris­tians, af­ter all, be­lieve in re­demp­tion and for­give­ness, and Starr is a de­vout Bap­tist.

Then again, maybe the for­mer in­ves­ti­ga­tor’s own re­cent ex­pe­ri­ence as a tar­get has opened his heart. This week, news broke that Bay­lor’s Board of Re­gents voted to de­mote Starr amid a sex­ual-as­sault scan­dal in­volv­ing the school’s foot­ball team.

The nas­ti­ness of pol­i­tics knows no phys­i­cal bound­aries, and cam­pus pun­ish­ments, we’ve ob­served, don’t al­ways fit the crime.

One thing we can be rea­son­ably sure of is that had Starr dis­cov­ered ev­i­dence that the Clin­tons were in­volved in Fos­ter’s death, he wouldn’t have hes­i­tated to present his case. That he didn’t should put to rest any con­tin­u­ing non­sense to the con­trary. The case is closed.

Would that this elec­tion were, too, but the long, hot sum­mer awaits. For re­fresh­ment, we can en­ter­tain the prospect of Bap­tist bros Clin­ton and Starr dip­ping their toes in Nan­tucket’s chill wa­ters, sip­ping wine and be­moan­ing the sad state of po­lit­i­cal af­fairs. The coarse­ness, the anger and, might we add, the irony of it all.

Kath­leen Parker is a syn­di­cated colum­nist. Con­tact her at kath­leen­parker@wash­post.com.


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