Big brother is watching any freeloading relatives: Family affairs

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The Independent Online
ROGER CLINTON, President Bill's rock'n'roll-singing half-brother, was never going to escape comparison with Billy Carter, brother of Jimmy, famed for exploiting his relationship with the White House by endorsing a beer named after himself and registering as an agent for Libya. Ever since Lincoln's wife Mary ran up gigantic clothing bills, the freeloading presidential relative has been a stock turn in American political mythology.

By the time his brother Bill was sworn in as President last week, 36-year-old Roger, who spent a year in prison in 1984 for cocaine smuggling, had won a dollars 200,000 ( pounds 132,000) contract with Time Warner's Atlantic Records. He had also been signed up with the Greater Talent Network to give speeches on 'the triumph of the human spirit' at dollars 10,000 a time.

An early effort on the lecture circuit before 300 members of the Palm Beach Round Table attracted criticism when, in keeping with his brother's notorious loquacity, Roger spoke for 48 minutes - 28 minutes longer than planned. He was cut off only when a woman in the audience criticised his appearance, claiming: 'His hair was unkempt. He was dirty. He should not embarrass his brother that way.'

What gives a frisson to lecture audiences up and down the country is waiting for the moment when the presidential relative will say or do something embarrassing. At Palm Beach, Roger Clinton, dressed in baggy navy blue jacket, white shirt, Uncle Sam tie, blue jeans and brown Hush Puppies, gave full value for money by accusing his critic of being dressed in the style of the Fifties or Sixties, and adding: 'If I'd had time I'd have sewn little rainbows on my pockets like you've got on yours.'

Are there any skeletons in the Clinton family cupboard which could emerge to embarrass the President? Last June, NBC won a place on the list of Mr Clinton's enemies by suggesting that as governor of Arkansas he had kept in office an incompetent state medical examiner, Dr Fahmy Malak, in order to protect his mother, Virginia Kelley.

The story was that in 1981 Dr Malak had certified a woman as having died because she had been hit by a brick thrown through the windscreen of her car, rather than because of a delay in giving her oxygen in an operating theatre where Mr Clinton's mother was the anaesthetic nurse.

Mr Clinton retained Dr Malak despite calls for his dismissal for incompetence, then transferred him to another state job. His mother denies she was negligent and says the case was 'dredged up by political enemies'.

Mr Clinton denies knowing, until recently, that Dr Malak had ruled in a case involving his mother and the evidence is, in any case, circumstantial.