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Rush Limbaugh, Esq.

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

Who would have thought that in a world where Greta Van Susteran and Geraldo Rivera feign supremacy, the most insightful analysis of the current legal White House strategy would come from that inimitable source, Rush Limbaugh. Maybe his display of legal acumen can be attributed to the judicial pedigree of the Limbaugh family, or perhaps we are witnessing the fruits of some formidable elective courses undertaken at Southeast Missouri State University. But whatever the explanation, it seems Rush hit the very center of the bull's-eye in the current multi-layered scheme that is being employed by the Clinton administration in an attempt to preserve the presidency.

The legal issues have become so intertwined that the typically discerning American public is justifiably bewildered. The politically oriented cable news shows, with their usual bevy of attorney analysts, serve only to exacerbate the problem. The experience of listening to the Lannie Davis clones spout the prepared script is not only unenlightening, it fails to be even the least bit informative. And those remaining members of the "talkfest" panels who are not White House apologists tend to be pedantic law professor types who proceed to offer an in-depth technical analysis of the minutia, the net result being that the proverbial forest disappears from view.

Complicating matters further, the actions on the part of the Clinton administration have the semblance of being haphazard and inconsistent when examined on a piecemeal basis. For instance, early in the game the White House tried to accelerate the Paula Jones civil case and is apparently attempting to do the same with the appeal. Clinton dropped his appeal regarding executive privilege, which made it look as though his desire was to move forward quickly.

On the other hand, Janet Reno filed a "friend of the court brief" to support the President's claim of executive privilege, conveying a hope for delay. However, Reno included language in the papers expressing the notion that the probe of the sex and perjury allegations against President Clinton were having a "substantial impact" on his ability to do his job. This would argue towards a quick resolution of the investigations.

In yet another example of the mixed signals being choreographed from the Executive Branch, the Justice Department is appealing a ruling that President Clinton's Secret Service guards must testify in front of the Lewinsky grand jury. So are they using a hurry up offense or running out the clock?

Rush has masterfully dubbed this Nixonesque evasion method the "Sybil strategy." Its multiple layers and obfuscation hide a simple and profound truth. The White House merely wishes to stall or give up on the probable losers while hastening the likely winners.

As many pundits have pointed out, the legal strategies employed dovetail with the political realities. The primary strategy of this Administration, and the ever-attentive Attorney General, is to avoid having the investigation detrimentally affect the upcoming elections. The White House believes that any chance to retake control of the House of Representatives must be kept alive. The legal maneuver of withdrawing the appeal concerning executive privilege while maintaining the case for attorney client privilege is in perfect harmony with this objective - delay and buy enough time to get through the November elections. This is the slogan of the stonewall gang.

Since the Paula Jones case is perceived by the Administration to be a winner, here the strategy calls for actions to accelerate its conclusion. Conversely, the executive privilege claim asserted by President Clinton was a loser from the beginning. It lost in the Federal District Court and would have lost at the appellate level. Cognizant that the Supreme Court would have heard this appeal on an expedited basis, the Administration saw no possibility of delay. Therefore, a decision was made to appeal the attorney client privilege issue, knowing full well that this too will ultimately lose. However, since it will not be hurried, the ultimate goal of procrastination will be realized.

Because the Supreme Court recesses in June, any pivotal testimony will probably be delayed past the November elections. This will give all of the White House distortionists more time to damage Kenneth Starr's credibility by pointing out that the investigation is taking far too long.

The "Sybil strategy" is an apt designation for what will surely become known as an unfortunate chapter in the history of American law.

In a world where spin-doctors try to manipulate the masses, it is encouraging that someone of Rush Limbaugh's universality is able to provide understandable legal analysis that the telelawyers seem unable to achieve.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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