Follow The Markers

Sidney Zion - NY Post - February 26, 2001

HERE'S Bill Clinton talking to Buddy, who never barked once.

I'm not so dumb as Hugh is poorly dressed, so of course I figured he had his beak in the honey pot - why else would he come to me for these two dirtbags? I didn't ask him how much, I just hoped it would be enough to keep him from putting his arm on me.

Tell you the truth, Buddy, I kind of admired old Hugh for grabbing 400 grand for this deal. But why didn't he get it in a suitcase? Well, that's a brother-in-law for you.

Still, Hillary shouldn't have forced him to give it back to these felons. It should have gone to charity. Things being how they are, we couldn't take it for the library, but how about Denise Rich's leukemia fund?

Her daughter died at 27, and looking back on it now, the worst thing Marc did was to stay on the lam while the kid was at death's door. But since this didn't keep Denise from asking me to pardon her ex, who was I to judge? I owed Marc nothing, but I had markers up to here with her.

What the guys and dolls who run the media don't get is, it's markers that run the world. In Vegas, they're called I.O.U.'s. As in "I've got a half-million-dollar marker in Caesar's Palace." Meaning that it gets me credit to continue gambling when out of cash.

In politics, it's life itself. And, Buddy, it's been my life since Little Rock.

And Hillary's. When she picked up a hundred grand by investing two thousand in a commodities deal overnight - that was quintessential markers. I paid the price 10-fold to the Arkansas company that gave her the deal when both of us needed the dough.

We got heat, so what? You do what's right and you sleep well, so long as there's no fingerprints. And the major thing that went wrong in the Marc Rich deal was the stupid letter that Marc's Israeli lawyer made Denise write to me.

Denise had my ear always. And she used it. She didn't like Marc, but she whispered to me more than once that I should pardon him. Why put that in writing?

My problem, Buddy, was three-fold with the Jews. Jonathan Pollard, Michael Milken and Marc Rich. Of them all, Rich was the hardest. The fugitive from justice who traded with the enemy, etc.

Pollard was the easiest. If I pardoned him, I could have written a perfect Op-Ed column in The New York Times. Everything was there for the Israeli spy: The Justice Department had double-crossed him by taking his plea and giving him a life sentence, against Soviet spies who got far less, and so on.

Michael Milken had served years in prison and had delivered charitable monies ever since, he had "paid the price."

The difference with Pollard was obvious. He had no money. What could he do for me? Zero. Which the Israelis understood too well, Buddy boy. Ehud Barak said what he had to say for Pollard, but he weighed in big time for Rich.

Milken had rabbis, but if I gave the pardon to Milken and Rich and not to Pollard, I'd look like a money hustler. This way, I figured to look like a principled man who would not permit ideology to upset the real world: Markers.

Buddy, why don't they get it, what do they want from me?

See Also:
  • Exposé: Using Pollard to Get Rich: Yediot Achronot Exclusive Investigation
  • Pushing Rich Pardon Hurt Jonathan Pollard and Undermines Strategic Israel-US Alliance
  • The Clemency Page