A Clinton encounter

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at walrus.com
Sat Jun 9 20:01:11 MDT 2001

A day at the races:

Bill and Hilary Clinton were at Belmont Park today for the Belmont Stakes today,
and got a decidedly mixed reception from the crowd (racing fans are a
notoriously unforgiving lot), with lots of loud booing every time he appeared on
the infield video screen. I was nearby when he made his exit and joined the
crowd that gathered along the way. What really sticks in my craw about Clinton's
term was his parting act of hypocrisy and spinelessness in leaving Leonard
Peltier to rot in prison while pardoning Marc Rich, so I yelled out to Clinton
as he walked by, "you took all that heat for Marc Rich, how come you wouldn't
take it for Leonard Peltier?" Clinton took up the challenge and stopped in front
of me, and in a manner that reminded me of his Election Day interview with Amy
Goodman on WBAI, said, "Now I've listened to what you had to say, so you listen
to me," and proceeded to give me at least a minute-long spiel, saying that Marc
Rich was wrongly charged and that although he'd seen Redford's film and read
Matthiessen's book, Leonard Peltier shouldn't get his sentence commuted "because
someone put a gun nine inches from an FBI agent's head and pulled the trigger."
(It's irrelevant of course that even the government's attorneys have admitted
they can't prove Peltier was the one who fired the gun.)  He said he "wasn't
defending the FBI," which I thought was an interesting thing to hear him say,
but brushed off my reply that hundreds were dead because of the FBI and that
Peltier was a freedom fighter. (While I was engaged in this unexpected dialogue,
one of his S.S. bodyguards was behind me, yanking my hands out of my pockets.)
Clinton seems able to brush off the booing from Republicans and yahoos wherever
he goes but I think heckling from the left gets under his skin and puts him in
full defense mode.

stuartwl at walrus.com

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