The Whole Truth Is Not Is...
By William Westmiller
"It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is," but the President's job approval rating is a continuing puzzlement to media commentators and critics. While opinion polls show that nearly everyone believes the President lied, they just don't care. Depending on perspective, here are the reasons why:
1) "It's the economy, stupid." It's irrelevant to most people's lives whether the President is ethical or unethical. Only his official acts will affect American pocketbooks, quality of life or security. Presidential exercises that increase taxes or cut benefits are important. Damage to the personal well being of each individual may be better grounds for impeachment than any sexual misconduct.
On two occasions, the American people decided that Clinton was the better man for the executive job of President. They also decided to handicap him with executing the laws adopted by a Republican Congress. The primary economic consequence was a semi-balanced federal budget, which stabilized the financial environment enough to allow the economy to function semi-productively. Paula, Jennifer, Kathleen and Monica aren't even bit players in that contest. Upsetting the economic apple cart for sexual impropriety probably won't play on Wall Street or Main Street.
2) "It's nobody's business." Hillary, Chelsea and God can demand an accounting for sins against marital vows. The President isn't an Ayatollah, a Pope or a saint, he's just a politician. As long as there's a separation of church and state, he can rot in hell, after he finishes his term.
There also exists a subtle sense that laws allowing detailed scrutiny of sexual conduct are badly amiss. The law that allows allegations of harassment to expose the accused to a full exposition of any and all previous sexual conduct was championed, and signed, by Bill Clinton. Until now, few people realized that the full power of the court could be pressed against the flesh.The threat of imprisonment for failing to tell-all-under-oath is grounds for a bad lawyer joke. Any alleged "pattern of previous conduct" by a defendant used to be totally irrelevant under common law. Either the crime in question occurred, or it didn't. Previous conduct, even arrests and convictions, were bannded from the courtroom. Perhaps that common law guide ought to be reinstated for sexual accusations.
3) "It's just a political witch-hunt." We're inclined to use civil means to depose of political opponents, but civility occasionally falls to the raw craving to win at any cost. To many people, forty million dollars is a small price to pay for getting Clinton out of office. Democrats have suffered those raw cravings in the past and there's merit to the proposition that the Republicans are just taking their turn.
Not long ago, Republicans vociferously opposed the creation of a Special Prosecutor. Now, most bow with great deference to the almighty, renamed, Independent Council. The powers and perquisites of the office have dethroned the media as the Fourth Estate. The Constitution has been effectively amended to include the Executive, Legislative, Judicial and Inquisitor branches of government. Today, it may be hunting for sex crimes. Tomorrow, it may be witches.
4) "It's all about sex." In many respects, the tide of opinion has turned against legal bans on consensual sexual behavior. Unless there's coercion (rape), injury (battering) or lack of consent (minors), most people believe that private sexual activities should be legal. It certainly should not be legislative business. If the issue is propriety, the disdain of puritans isn't bashful, but it shouldn't be grist for the judiciary. Both puritans and libertines have heard more commentary on the President's private parts than either one of them could ever enjoy.
5) "Evasion isn't perjury." There's a legal case to be made for the proposition that Clinton's misrepresentations, in context, were neither relevant nor material to the Paula Jones accusations. Mr. Clinton is a lawyer, then and now, who realizes that sexual harassment law requires some threat or actual injury to the presumptive victim. His inappropriate sexual conduct has frequently been followed by rewards, rather than penalties. Technically, his conduct may fall closer to the definition of prostitution than harassment.
Granted, the President has brought evasion to new heights. He may even spin his way out of his current jeopardy. Only when tobacco products entered the deposition did Clinton evenflinch. He has brought the absence of the whole truth to the level of a high art form.
To my lights, Clinton agreed to the legal consequences of not telling the whole truth. He lied. That's a crime that should be prosecuted by a judge and jury. Even if the judge is the House of Representatives and the jury is the United States Senate.
©1998, William Westmiller
California Coordinator of the Republican Liberty Caucus
Past Candidate for the Republican Nomination for (24CD) Congress
Former National Secretary, California Chairman, Libertarian Party
isnotis.c05 ~780 Words