The Taiwan Scandal
Jude Wanniski
November 4, 1996

 

Memo To: Ross Perot
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Taiwan Scandal

You are doing a great public service in publicizing the campaign finance scandals of the Clinton administration. You can do it where it was impossible for Dole or Kemp, in that anything they say would seem self-serving. The electorate was not going to listen to the details of the Indonesia affair with only weeks to go, except that you put the issue into a laser-like focus. I think you got the public's attention first with your comments about the First Family renting Lincoln's bedroom for $100,000 per night. Your statement about the President not being ethically/morally fit for the job has not yet been nailed down, however. I made that decision myself when I woke up one morning and found Clinton had ordered the bombing of Iraq without consulting any member of Congress, not only in contravention of the Constitution's spirit, but the War Powers Act that was specifically enacted to require Presidents to at least consult with congressional leaders before intervening abroad with military action.

The smoking gun on campaign finance, I think, is the Taiwan scandal involving John Huang. That's because it is so much more significant to the nation's future and the future of the world than any of the other dirty-money deals involving the Commerce Department. It is evil enough to sell preferential trade deals to Indonesian industrialists in exchange for political cash. The electorate may even have assumed that this kind of stuff happens under any regime, Republican or Democratic. This is in fact the President's defense. "Hey, we all do it, and we shouldn't, and in my second term, I will support all efforts to halt this practice."

In Taiwan, the administration did something far worse. The President had given his word to the Beijing government that his administration would not grant a visa to the President of Taiwan to visit Cornell for his college homecoming. China was being sensitive on this point because it appeared our government was being less than absolute on our commitment, made in the Nixon administration, to a One China, two systems policy. Clinton then broke his promise by granting the visa. This of course led China to question our commitment to our earlier agreement. Our relationship has not been the same since. The hawks in Beijing have increased their influence on policy. Tensions arose to the point where China began firing missiles in the Taiwan Strait. We sent our Seventh Fleet to signal our own intent to stick by Taiwan. The mission surely cost taxpayers $50 million or more. At the same time, we now worry that China is stepping up its defense spending.

Now we learn that John Huang made three trips to Taipei, passing the hat in the business community, as a payoff for our solicitude to their political interests. We also learn our ambassador to Taipei was of assistance to Huang in setting up some of these fundraising events. For several hundred thousand dollars, we are prepared to jeopardize our relations with the one country in the world most likely to be a superpower in the 21st century. How about them apples?

Ross, I have a journalist friend, a lifelong liberal Democrat, who had swallowed every other Clinton misdeed, on the grounds that his good outweighed his ethical flaws. He now tells me he is going to vote for you, and Taiwan is the straw that broke the camel's back. You can see why. I've argued that we have been very lucky with Clinton so far. A second term would not only be consumed with investigations into the depths of these scandals. Clinton may very well choose to use his powers as commander in chief to cause a distraction from his woes at home. You are correct in arguing that he is not likely to change at this stage of his life. He has a basic flaw in his internal emotional metabolism that truly makes him unfit for office most emphatically not the office of the most powerful man on earth. He is a man who is driven by the need to be loved, and he will do anything to satisfy that need. If he thinks his fellow citizens will love him more by getting rid of Saddam Hussein or Fidel Castro or some other international troublemaker, he will set out to deliver on that, regardless of the Constitution or any other mechanism we employ to make this a nation of law, not of men. You have in this knowledge all you need to know about how to prevent his re-election, even at this 11th hour.