Bill Clinton is the disappointment of his generation. At every turn, the man fails to reckon with his appointment in history.

The General Accounting Office delivered last week a report that chronicled a childish and reprehensible aspect of the last days of the Clinton administration. Asked by Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia to research the pranks left by Clinton aides for the incoming Bush administration, the GAO found that "damage, theft, vandalism and pranks" costing at $13,000 to $14,000. That included $4,850 to replace computer keyboards that were damaged or missing w keys.

Jennifer Palmieri of the Democratic National Committee called the investigation "a vendetta against the Clinton administration. Palmieri disparaged the Bush White House for cooperating with the GAO probe on this Clinton mischief while stonewalling the GAO on Vice President Cheney's contacts during his development of the Bush administration. Palmieri offers an interesting observation, but such a rationale evades this bit of smelly aftertaste of the Clinton White House.

The New York Times also reported that there was anecdotal evidence of similar pranks left by the Bush administration for the Clinton administration. The GAO was unable to say whether these transition pranks were more costly than those of the prior transition.

The GAO proposes that the government inspect office space and equipment of workers about to depart and "penalize those who willfully deface federal property."

We Americans pride ourselves on the peaceful transition between administrations. The mess which Clinton aides left behind does not acutely threaten that tradition. But it is demeaning to the White House, which the nation owns. We all pay for the damage. Finally, it is dispiriting behavior that is neither adult nor professional.


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