Comment Of The Day
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Thursday, July 30, 1998

The President Going Down #2.

TESTIMONY: "Mr. President, in your own words, and after reading the testimony before us, please explain your view of these events."

[The President, on the TV screen, seemed ill at ease, but genuine. He spoke extemporaneously, without notes.]

It all started, in June of 1995. And, I know that there is no excuse, but it should be said that I am not the first, nor will I be the last man who through loneliness and stress has turned to the arms
of a woman for comfort.

It was just another day in the White House, really. The Secretaries were calling with the normal range of problems from the imminent announcement of the proliferation of nuclear arms in India and Pakistan to the rampaging murders and rapes in and around Serbia. There was a long meeting on the famine in Sudan. Many people don't know it, but my schedule begins at around 4:30 A.M. with telephone briefings in bed, no breakfast usually (I know people think I have an egg MacMuffin and decaf, but like a lot of things you've heard about me, it's just not true), and the meetings begin while I'm still in my pajamas and right through my morning shower and shave. My time is deemed so valuable, that as President of the United States, I truly have no privacy at all in the "open." Which means virtually all of the time, but officiallys, "open" means while I'm on the days agenda. Most days, the agenda starts at 4:30 a.m. and ends after midnight, if I'm lucky.

My wife and I as you know, are estranged. It's no secret in the White House, but for some reason (I assume to protect Hillary and Chelsea) the fact that we do not even sleep in the same room has escaped national attention. But that's all that has. Everything else is an open book and world is always peering in.

Now remember, I started by saying that I know there is no excuse. Other than the fact (and many will not agree) that I was (and still am) extremely lonely in this job. I'm no different from everyone else. I want someone to be close to. Yes, someone to hold. I know that sounds weird, but it's still true, and it should be no surprise. Monica's attentions were irrepressible and ultimately irresistible. I did not go looking, really. She is young, enthusiastic, wide-eyed, and very, very, very affectionate. I wish her
well. As only two people invlved with each other can, I know her intentions and her emotions were genuine, and I was honest with her. If she were here, she would state honestly that we are still friends. People say it was sexual harassment for me to become involved with an employee, an intern, and technically that may be true. But remember, the only prolonged contact I am allowed with people is with the people who work along with me in the Presidency or my wife, and you know what's up with that. It is an office setting and the scope of our activities is so vast and far-reaching that no one in their right mind would ever suggest that I am the Presidency. The Presidency, today, is thousands of people doing thousands and thousands of things all over the world. I am the President, but I am not the Presidency. In many ways, I am another co-worker. Ultimately, that's clearly not true, but in the day to day routine, it is very true.

So, in the simplest terms, this affair with Monica was not an act of national policy. It was not an act of a national official. It was not a transgression of the Constitution and the Laws of the United States. It was just a man. Just a woman. We lied out of confusion and fear. Why were we afraid? Obviously, it's now clear why, isn't it?. People do do this sort of thing, don't they? I am not proud of it. It was a trail of mistakes and missteps. But for those few moments of affection, tenderness, and of just being held and holding, I will always be grateful to Monica. And she knows it. For, although she is a young woman, she is a fine and a wonderful person. She is my friend, always. On her behalf I want to add, and this is not easy to say as you can imagine, her conduct was more an act of kindness and caring, compassion and sympathy, than any of the sordid and salacious speculations that are now the rumor mill's currency. I lied about it, and I should have told the simple truth. Here we are at my true crime: lack of faith in the truth, and the people's ability to handle it.

So, with that, I ask for your forgiveness. Perhaps you can understand now what occurred and why it occurred.

Hillary and I are going our separate ways, but in our own time and in our own way.

For the Nation, there is so much left to do in this Presidency: social security, campaign finance, education, race issues, and health, among others around the world.
So, as your President, I truly need your help and your forgiveness. And who among you all, could say that this episode, human and imperfect as it is, disqualifies me to continue working hard for the goals and principles that my thirty years of government service have stood for? In the Twentieth Century, Americans have the opportunity to directly and personally know their President and, in this case, to directly assist
their President. Is it any surprise that the office is occupied by a fallible human being? Was it ever not so? My policies and execution of the responsibilities of this office have been consistent, intelligent and far-sighted, as I know history will ultimately tell. You may not agree with me, but I have done the job well and effectively. But, there is much more to do, and you know it, everyone knows it.

My personal struggles and mistakes have not been pretty, and I am sorry for the obvious embarrassment to the nation and to my family.

But, together, we have accomplished much, and we still can accomplish much more for the world, for our children, for ourselves and for the future.

If you have any questions; hopefully polite and understanding questions, I will be happy to take them now.

[The President was looking into the camera at this point. The Jury clearly had seen an honest, somewhat startlingly honest, testimony that answered every important question: he had lied, he had had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, he was in a failed and frigid marriage, he was tragically lonely, ashamed, but still committed to his agenda of change and obviously working hard at his official responsibilities, despite it all. As the lawyers for Special Prosecutor Starr began their cross-examining, everyone noticed a vast sea change in the Grand Jury's posture and attitude.]

See you next time?

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