Gaining fame in the 1990s as the independent counsel who investigated then-President Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Ken Starr (shown) returned to the news this week after being fired from his position as president of Baylor University, and for heaping praise on three former Democrat presidents — including Clinton.
Baylor officials fired Starr because of what they considered to be his poor handling of multiple rape allegations and convictions on the Waco, Texas, campus. The university is accused of a poor response to the accusations of rape brought forward by at least six female students during Starr’s tenure as chancellor and university president. At least eight former players on the Big 12 conference football team have been accused of violence against women.
Former Baylor football player Tevin Elliot was convicted in 2014 of raping Jasmin Hernandez in 2012, and is presently serving a 20-year prison term. A transfer from Boise State, Sam Ukwuachu, never actually played for Baylor, but he was also convicted of raping a female soccer player.
Starr’s praise of Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Lyndon B. Johnson came during a panel discussion on “The Presidents and the Constitution: A Living History” at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on May 16. Starr’s contribution to the conference was a chapter on Ronald Reagan; however, it was his positive remarks about Bill Clinton that were the most newsworthy.
In contrast, Starr, who was solicitor general for President George H.W. Bush, appeared to criticize the expected Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, expressing concern about the “transnational emergence of almost radical populism, deep anger, a sense of dislocation.” Donald Trump has accused expected Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton of enabling her husband’s alleged assaults and harassment of women such as Juanita Broadrick, who accused Clinton of raping her in the late '70s while he was attorney general of Arkansas and a candidate for governor.
At the recent Philadelphia conference, Starr referred to Bill Clinton as “the most gifted politician of the Baby Boomer generation,” a man whose “genuine empathy for human beings is absolutely clear." He added, "It is powerful, it is palpable and the folks of Arkansas really understand that about him — that he genuinely cared. This ‘I feel your pain’ is absolutely genuine.” Starr now expresses regret over his investigation of Clinton.
Ken Starr was born in Vernon, Texas, to a Church of Christ minister and his wife. He attended the Church of Christ-affiliated Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, where he was a member of the Young Democrats Club. He later transferred to George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a history degree in 1968. While at George Washington, he became a member of the Delta Phi Epsilon national professional foreign service fraternity.
Starr has also gained membership to the highly elitist and secretive Bohemian Club. Peter Phillips, author of Inside Bohemian Grove: U.S. Elites Celebrate Patriarcchy, Racism, and Class Privilege, uncovered some interesting information about the club while researching it for his dissertation at the University of California at Davis. For instance, according to Phillips, Dwight Eisenhower gave a premier political address at the Bohemian Grove, where the club meets for two weeks every summer, in 1950. Two years later, he upset Senator Robert Taft for the Republican Party presidential nomination.
The Grove even hosted a meeting in the fall of 1942 about the Manhattan Project, which later developed the atom bomb. Phillips wrote, “One of the foremost political events in which the Bohemian political network played a significant role was the United Nations Conference April 25th to June 26th, 1945 in San Francisco. This was the original formation meeting for the United Nations.... Receptions for [United Nations] delegates and key dignitaries were held at the Bohemian Club on May 17th, May 29th, June 4th and June 5th.”
Starr had been a federal judge before serving as solicitor general during the first Bush presidency. In 1990, he was expected to be named by Bush to replace William Brennan on the Supreme Court; however, conservatives within the Department of Justice questioned his philosophy, which they regarded as not reliably conservative. The nomination went instead to David Souter — a definite disappointment to constitutionalists.
Later, Starr was appointed in 1997 as an independent counsel to complete the investigation into the death of deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster and the Whitewater real estate investments of Bill Clinton. Previous Independent Counsel Robert Fiske concluded that Foster had committed suicide at Fort Marcy Park, in Virginia, and that his suicide was a result of undiagnosed depression. The report was disputed by others who believed the evidence was more conclusive that Foster committed suicide in the White House, and was moved to Fort Marcy Park. Starr agreed with Fiske’s findings on the Foster case, which exonerated President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton of any wrongdoing, but expanded his investigations into Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual escapades.
Starr’s 1998 investigation of Clinton led to impeachment, after the president was charged with committing perjury, apparently lying under oath about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton’s denial of a sexual affair with Lewinsky came during his sworn deposition as a defendant in the Paula Jones lawsuit. Jones had accused Clinton of sexual harassment while he was governor of Arkansas and she was a state employee. Her lawyers asked the question of Clinton concerning his affair with Lewinsky in order to demonstrate a pattern of such behavior.
But now Starr says he “regrets” these actions, even praising Clinton’s performance as an ex-president, asserting, “President Carter set a very high standard, which President Clinton clearly continues to follow.”
Starr did not stop with those gushing comments about Carter and Clinton, both Democrats, but also heaped praise on former President Lyndon Johnson. During the panel discussion, Starr cited Johnson as a president who called for national unity, declaring, “I remember this so vividly — he said, ‘Come, let us reason together.’ Can we talk with one another?'"
Starr indicated during his talk that unity was needed in our country today; however, many conservatives find it difficult to think of Lyndon Johnson as a unifying chief executive. After all, Johnson's infamous “Daisy Girl” campaign ad essentially accused his Republican opponent in 1964, Senator Barry Goldwater, of being a warmonger and a maniac intent on launching a nuclear war.
A closer look at Starr might explain his recent surprising remarks about former President Clinton. After all, as serious as the allegations against Clinton were of assaults on women while he was attorney general and governor of Arkansas, and then as president, conservatives are still perplexed as to why Starr did not pursue allegations of international significance against President Clinton, such as the alleged illegal transfer of technology to Communist China.
Conservatives considered Starr’s investigations into the Clinton presidency a failure — since the Senate failed to convict him (the 50-50 vote to remove him from office fell far short of the necessary two-thirds number). As mentioned above, they had expected Starr to provide evidence sufficient to obtain a conviction for other crimes such as treason. But then again, the diversion into sex scandals was a “success” for those who supported Clinton.
It would be interesting to know exactly when Starr became such a strong supporter of the ex-president. Perhaps now that he is no longer employed at Baylor, the 69-year-old Starr will have time to campaign for Hillary.
Photo: AP Images