Who Disturbs the Dead?

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WASHINGTON: Spare a thought for Sheila Lawrence. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the latest and most macabre scandal to grip the Clinton administration, Mrs. Lawrence has had to ask the President to have her late husband Larry's body dug up from the nation's most hallowed ground, and flown home to San Diego in disgrace. This follows claims that Lawrence, a former ambassador and $10 million Democratic Party contributor, had no right to be buried in Arlington cemetery. "The controversy of the past few days precludes his resting there in peace," she wrote. Clinton replied: "I will never forget Larry's remarkable success as a businessman, his generosity as a philanthropist and his skill as a diplomat."

Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson was less forgiving: "This entire scandal would not have happened had it not been for Mr. Lawrence's ... close affiliation with the Clinton-Gore administration," he said, alleging that Lawrence faked his service records and war injury. But when even Arlington's superintendent is telling the Washington Post that Lawrence's position as ambassador would have been enough to grant him a rightful waiver, the scandal begins to fall flat and Nicholson may find out that he who disturbs the dead for political gain does so at his own peril.