knock me over with a feather!! Starr praises Bill Clinten : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

Thursday, May 2, 2002,1249,390006950,00.html? **************** And despite his reputation as the man out to "get" Clinton, Starr wasn't stingy with his praise about the former president.
"He's the most talented politician of his generation no one else comes close to the political brilliance and genius of William Jefferson Clinton."

************************** Kenneth Starr, the conservative crusading prosecutor who took on former President Bill Clinton during the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals, cracked jokes with University of Utah students and said there were times he wished he'd been fired.
Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals, answers questions after a public radio forum at the U.Laura Seitz, Deseret News
But he said he never regretted what he fought for or second-guessed that he might have been wrong.
"This was a horrible job . . . I was praying for a Saturday-night massacre or that pink slip," he said. "I would have been the happiest person in town should I have been fired."
It was the loathsome challenge of probing the alleged crimes of Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal that caused Starr to reflect Wednesday on the legally onerous task of tackling a popular president.
"If it had been another independent counsel (in the Lewinsky investigation) the vendetta charge would not have had the force," Starr said. He likened himself to having the appeal and charm of Iraq's Saddam Hussein but added he believed people would eventually "move on."
In Utah as the guest of Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, Starr amiably answered questions in a KUER radio broadcast from the Hinckley Institute of Politics.
Later that evening, Starr was the keynote speaker at a $100-a-plate Law Day Dinner to raise money for Shurtleff's election war chest. More than 100 attorneys and community members attended.
Starr discussed the Supreme Court case that questions whether the voucher program of a school district in Cleveland violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which says the government cannot "establish" or promote religion but also protects the right to practice religion.
The high court heard the case in February and is expected to make its decision in the next six to eight weeks. Its decision could decide whether voucher programs throughout the country, such as the one advocates tried to pass in this year's Legislature, are constitutional.
The Cleveland school district is the worst in Ohio and one of the worst in the country. It regularly doesn't pass any of the state's 27 criteria that measure school adequacy. The state, which now runs the district, provides scholarship money to low-income parents to send their children to one of 56 accredited, private schools in Cleveland.
Most of the schools are religious Catholic, Islamic and other religions. Critics of the program believe the government shouldn't be in the business of funding religious institutions.
Starr disagrees.
"You choose in the land of liberty, and state funding will follow your choice," he said. "The establishment clause is not offended when the individual takes actions that benefit a religious institution."
Although he couldn't predict how the Supreme Court will decide, Starr said there is legal precedence that supports school vouchers.
In 1986, the Supreme Court decided in favor of a church-school case involving Larry Witters, a blind man who lived in Washington state. Witters decided he wanted to study youth ministry and possibly become a missionary. He enrolled at the Inland Empire School of Bible. The state's Department of Services for the Blind denied him scholarship money because it was a religious school. But it was willing to pay for education for a secular career.
Witters sued Washington, and a liberal court ruled in his favor. "Are you going to be discriminating against faith-based institutions? That's the question," Starr said.
The law is still evolving in this area. And the larger questions surrounding voucher programs will probably not go away with the Cleveland case. "Jurisprudence under the establishment clause was not created in a day," Starr said.
Shurtleff's decision to bring Starr to Utah drew criticism from some Utah Republicans opposed to the government's ongoing antitrust battle with Microsoft. Starr is part of the legal muscle urging the government to break the computer monolith into halves, and Utah is one of many states arguing for antitrust intervention.
"There is a tempest going on here, and there shouldn't be," Starr said. "Prosecutors are going to take some stands people don't like."
But beyond ruminating over the scandals that accompanied the Clinton administration, Starr took the opportunity Wednesday to shed what he calls the "caricature" that public officials often inherit and talk conversationally about his own life.
Even after the radio show had ended and most the media had fired off questions, Starr was content to linger with students, chatting about public policy and Supreme Court decisions.
The son of a fundamentalist minister who grew up in San Antonio, Starr described himself as "scrawny" and "weak," a lethal combination in the football frenzied world of Texas.
As a ninth-grader, he managed to land a position as a lineman on the football team but soon gave that up as the lure of the "clash of ideas" led him to debate and politics.
Years later, as a parent, Starr found he had a "captive audience" in his car on family vacations and made his family listen to political speeches.
He rejected the notion, however, that his conservative religious background was a factor in the Clinton investigations.
"That kind of armchair psychoanalysis doesn't take into account the widespread checks and balances that are in our government. I was alone in this, just 'some guy' out there. The investigation was the attorney general's choice."
And despite his reputation as the man out to "get" Clinton, Starr wasn't stingy with his praise about the former president.
"He's the most talented politician of his generation no one else comes close to the political brilliance and genius of William Jefferson Clinton."

-- Cherri (whatever@who.cares), May 04, 2002


By stringing out the Clinton investigation as long as he did (e.g. years before finally announcing that Vince Foster had indeed committed suicide), Starr made a ton of money for himself.

-- Peter Errington (, May 04, 2002.

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