WASHINGTON -- Linda Tripp, whose betrayal of Monica Lewinsky set up
President Clinton for the
Republican-driven House impeachment, thinks the country owes her a living for being a palace tattletale.
Tripp has fallen on such hard times that she has mailed out a form letter
begging for donations to help support
her two children. She is also circulating a petition, in which she asks others to sign, urging President Bush
to give her a taxpayer-financed, "meaningful" administration job.
This woman has so much brass she would set off an airport-security machine if she walked through it naked.
It can be argued that Bush owes her a job for her role in exposing the
Bill Clinton sex scandal that inhibited
Vice President Al Gore's 2000 campaign and helped put Bush in the White House. But Bush doesn't need
the grief that rewarding Tripp could cause. She's too politically radioactive to touch.
Nobody trusts a snitch who secretly tapes intimate phone conversations
with a younger friend whom she makes
vulnerable to jail time. Tripp's recordings of Lewinsky's girlish confessions revealed Clinton's affair and drove
Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's probe into charges of perjury and obstruction of justice by Clinton.
In her fund-raising letter, addressed to "dear friend," Tripp whines
that her "22-year, dedicated public servant's career"
came to a halt when Clinton left office and that it was the result of "retaliation for daring to speak the truth." She was a public-affairs specialist in the Defense Department, a job she describes as "a make-work position" for which she was
paid nearly $100,000 a year.
Actually, all but a handful of similar political appointees at her level
automatically lost their jobs when the Bush
administration took over. This is the way the system works in the executive branch. She was given the opportunity
to resign, as the others did, but she refused so that she could technically claim to have been fired and then blame Clinton.
"I've been thrown out on the street without the means to support my
two children," she says. She complains that after
she lost the Pentagon job, she also failed to get a post she had sought at a U.S. Defense Department facility in Germany because of a Stars and Stripes story detailing her application.
"I was just so devastated," she writes. "I was frustrated and humiliated.
My spirit was broken. I felt there was
literally no place on earth where I could go to escape the long arms of the vicious, vindictive Clinton machine."
This is one woman who should know vicious and vindictive when she sees them.
Her broken spirit, however, did not prevent her from filing a lawsuit
demanding financial damages against the Defense Department, which she accused
of leaking the information to the newspaper and thereby violating the Federal
Privacy Act. Previously she had also sued the White House and the Pentagon,
claiming that officials illegally released her government-security clearance
form to a magazine. A federal judge ruled that the privacy act does not
president's office, but her suits against the Pentagon are still pending.
Lawsuits are expensive. She laments in her letter that she owes $2 million
in legal fees, and "I now find myself with
no money for rent, transportation, food, heat and utilities and other basics of life."
A few months ago she could afford expensive plastic surgery, however,
and discussed her makeover in a CNN
interview with Larry King in February. But even then she insisted, "I think I'll be filing for bankruptcy."
In her fund-raising appeal she says, "What I have suffered and endured
for telling the truth I would not wish on
even my worst enemy.... (But) in the end, if I have nothing else, I have my integrity. I am not defeated."
As she sees it: "I was required by law to disclose illegal and improper
actions by high-level government officials.
I was merely doing my job."
As many others see it, it was not her job to spy on the private life
of the president of the United States or to violate
the foolish confidences of a young White House intern. It was not her job to sit in judgment on Clinton's pitiful sex life.
It was not her job to wear a body microphone during a specially arranged meeting with Lewinsky at Starr's request
to back up the information on earlier tapes she had made privately.
It was not her job to secretly brief Paula Jones' lawyers about the
Lewinsky affair so they could surprise Clinton in a
deposition in Jones' sexual-harassment suit against him and catch him lying about his relationship with Lewinsky.
She didn't act out of a sense of integrity. She went to great lengths
to bring down a president she disliked,
and she practically did it.
"I feel like I'm sticking a knife in your back," she told Lewinsky in
one of her taped conversations. But she doesn't
mention knives now that she is begging Americans to subsidize her through their charity and to back her request
for another tax-supported job.
Now she appeals to us "in the name of common decency."
Too bad she didn't show any toward Bill Clinton.