Last week the president gave a four-minute address to the nation that was supposed to explain his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Most pundits and analysts were predicting the president would issue a mea culpa and ask for the nation’s forgiveness. But instead of telling everyone exactly what happened with the former White House intern, he used his famed verbal acrobatics to turn the tables and insist that everything is independent counsel Ken Starr’s fault.
Clinton told the nation he “must take complete responsibility for all” his actions. How exactly did he do that? In your run-of-the-mill job, if a person screws up royally, he or she is held accountable for his or her actions through severe reprimands, demotion or flat-out firing.
But Clinton took responsibility in two ways: first by continuing to select every word with the utmost care, and then by going to Martha’s Vineyard on vacation.
He said when asked questions about Lewinsky in a January deposition, he gave answers that were “legally accurate,” but did not “volunteer information.”
How do you refuse to “volunteer information” when you are sworn under oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
Clinton then admitted he did have an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky. His admission comes several months after he and his aides repeatedly told anyone who’d listen that no Lewinsky relationship ever existed. What sort of credibility does Clinton have left?
The president then went on to explain why he “misled” people:
Reason # 1: He didn’t want to embarrass himself. As if being the punch line of thousands of jokes and reading about his genitalia’s “distinguishing characteristics” in newspapers wasn’t enough of an embarrassment.
Reason # 2: He wanted to protect his family. His reasoning? If he just closed his eyes and clicked his heels together three times, all the bad people and questions would just go away.
Reason # 3: The questions were asked in a “politically inspired lawsuit” – the Paula Jones case. The case was about politics then, so by Clinton’s reasoning, the answers could be about the truth’s flexibility.
Reason # 4: “Real and serious concerns” about Ken Starr.
This is a novel answer – “I didn’t tell the truth because I didn’t like the person who was asking the questions.”
Clinton could be an inspiration to millions of people who are faced with telling the truth.
Imagine little Jimmy explaining to his teacher why his homework is late:
“Well, you never specifically told us when the homework was due. `Tomorrow’ is a very general term that can be interpreted in many different ways. What’s to say my interpretation is not the correct one?”
Or grown-up Jimmy explaining to his wife why he lied about where he went after work:
“Well, I had real and serious concerns about the way you were asking those questions.”
Clinton went on to say the independent counsel’s investigation had gone on “too long, cost too much and hurt too many innocent people.” He left out the part where he explained why he failed to tell the truth back in January, which would have shortened the investigation, reduced the cost and prevented many people from being subpoenaed.
Finally, Clinton told the nation it was time to “repair the fabric of our national discourse.” This would mean the American people would have to forget they ever heard of Monica Lewinsky, Linda Tripp, Paula Jones, Vernon Jordan, Whitewater, the McDougals, Web Hubbel, the purloined FBI files, the White House Travel Office fiasco and the Independent Counsel Act.
How would that happen? Everyone could close their eyes and click their heels three times to make Ken Starr go away.
Clinton may have sky-high approval ratings, but his credibility ranks up there with those guys on street corners hawking genuine $5 Rolexes.
What a historical legacy to leave behind.
-The writer is associate editor of The GW Hatchet.
Notable Clinton Answers“That allegation is false.” – January 1992, on whether he had an affair with Gennifer Flowers.
“It was simply a fluke that I wasn’t called.” – February 1992, on not being drafted during the Vietnam War.
“I didn’t inhale.” – March 1992, when asked about his marijuana use.
“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.” – January 1998.
“Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate.” – August 1998.
Source: The Wall Street Journal