Bill Clinton’s shameful legacy

There are countless grounds on which to criticize Bill Clinton’s sense of morality — among many others, the illegal bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan; perpetrating what Amnesty International has designated as “war crimes” in Yugoslavia; overseeing the slow murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians; undermining civil rights protections in the name of “anti-terrorism”; not to mention a catalog of domestic human rights violations under the international Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which the United States has yet to ratify half a century after its origination — so it may tell us something about the nature of American intellectual culture that Clinton’s dishonesty regarding a consensual blow job is being universally touted as his greatest moral failure.
For the most part, presidential legacies are the stuff of fantasy, and Clinton has worked hard to manufacture his. For many American Indian people, however, Clinton’s two terms in the White House will forever be associated with his shameful failure to grant executive clemency to Leonard Peltier. What additional political cover did he need? Amnesty International provided a detailed and highly credible examination of the injustice of Peltier’s conviction. Mary Robinson, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrote to Clinton in December asking that clemency be granted. The European Parliament passed a resolution requesting the same. Nobel Peace Laureates — Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchu — publicly called on Clinton to free Peltier, as did the National Congress of American Indians. It never happened.
My memory of Bill Clinton? What a pathetic coward.
— Scott Laderman