February 11, 1998
The President of the United States probably lied under oath.
The bad news is that most people don’t care. The good news is that most people don’t care.
Recent surveys by the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Time Magazine, Newsweek and others indicate approval ratings for President Clinton ranging from 67 to 79 percent. Yet 65 percent of those polled believe that the President has lied about the Monica Lewinsky affair.
The bad news is that the American public is not shocked when its leaders lie to them. In fact, we may expect our leaders to lie to us. Even when they say “I do solemnly swear to tell the truth.”
Most of those polled also believe that Hillary Clinton is lying when she has indicated that she does not believe the accusations against her husband.
We’re saddened that people’s expectations of their highest elected officials have sunk so low. We’re also Outraged that
politicians can look their constituents straight in the eye, lie, and get away with it.
But we’re relieved that Clinton will probably not be brought down by this scandal, even as the evidence against him becomes overwhelming.
Most liberals agree that Clinton should not resign as a result of his indiscretions, or even of his perjury. Libertarians and
conservatives may have many good reasons for wishing Clinton out of the White House. But, unless you believe the ends always
justify the means, this sex scandal is not the right way to get rid of Clinton.
A hallmark of liberty is the belief in privacy, and protection from governmental or other intrusions into your personal life.
Regardless of your party affiliation, you have to ask if you can really condone the sort of investigation prompted by the Paula
Jones sexual harassment suit. Questions that lawyers are able to ask President Clinton are the same questions they’ll ask you and
your associates if someone sues you for sexual harassment.
Who did you have sex with? Did you give him/her presents? We want to see the presents! Did you write her/him poetry? Let’s see it!
Paula Jones alleges that, many years ago, Bill Clinton crudely propositioned her. She does not allege rape or assault. She does not allege that he offered to use his job as governor to give her a better job if she had sex with him. She does not allege that he threatened to fire her when she refused him.
She simply alleges that while he was Governor of Arkansas, and she was an employee of the state, he propositioned her and exposed himself to her. She did not slap his face or kick him in the groin. In fact she did nothing; did not even report the incident for several years, until he became President of the United States.
Despite the fact that Paula Jones has no real evidence, we tend to believe her, based on Clinton’s past record of womanizing. The wide-spread rumors that Clinton offered to settle the case for $700,000 also tend to argue against his innocence. Jones turned the offer down; she wants her pound of flesh, so to speak.
Jones is able to require Bill Clinton to answer just about any question, under oath, in her attempt to prove that he propositioned her. On January 17 lawyers for Jones questioned Clinton for SIX hours. Now, as American citizens, we might hope that the President of the United States does not have to spend the better part of his working day answering questions about his sex
life. It might be nice if he had a couple of spare hours to decide if the United States was going to war with Iraq. It’s truly Outrageous that real issues of grave national importance will get short shrift so that Paula Jones has plenty of opportunity to seek vengeance.
During those six hours lawyers for Jones were able to ask questions like “did you have sex with Monica Lewinsky?” “Did you give her presents?” Regardless of whether one happens to be the President or a janitor, the proper response to any sort of
question like this to anyone other than one’s spouse is: None of your damn business!
Federal prosecutors from Kenneth Starr’s office have also spent weeks, and millions of taxpayer dollars, asking hordes of questions of white house staffers about the alleged relationship between Clinton and Lewinsky. Clinton’s secretary, 58 year-old Betty
Currie, has been subjected to several days of examination.
On December 17 Jones’ lawyers issued a subpoena to Lewinsky demanding possession of any gifts that she might have received from Clinton. That’s outrageous – Monica Lewinsky has nothing to do with Paula Jones – why should she be forced to turn over the gifts she’s received from Bill Clinton or anyone else? Why should Lewinsky be forced to answer questions, under oath, about her personal life?
Federal agents then searched Lewinsky’s apartment for any gifts from Clinton. They were looking for a dress, supposedly given to Lewinsky by Clinton. They seized a book of poetry signed by the President. We live in a world often characterized by genocide, terrorism, and desperate poverty, and US Federal Agents are spending our money looking for – a dress? Seizing books of
The fact that much of the investigation is based on conversations between Lewinsky and Linda Tripp, which were secretly and illegally tape recorded, should also give us pause. A mother being forced to testify against her daughter should frighten us. All in all, the techniques that Paula Jones and Kenneth Starr are using in their prosecution of the President are reminiscent of the gross
invasions of privacy found in totalitarian states.
Perhaps the fact that so many Americans don’t care that their president has lied is just a reflection of a fundamental moral
truth: You have no moral obligation to honestly answer a question if the interrogator has no right to ask the question.
We admit, however, that we’d really feel better about the whole situation if Clinton would at least occasionally blush when he lies to us.
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