Comment Of The Day
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Monday, August 3, 1998
"Friendship Day"

President Going Down #3

A Dress, A President, A Process & Removing All Doubt

It may not be all you're hoping, this upcoming process of investigation.

Because in the end, it all comes down, not to the truth really, but to the deciphering of words, the intent of the words, the difficult enforcement of confusing and duplicitious federal statutes, all in pursuit of a truly fast-moving target, that even if hit and destroyed may prove more disastrous in victory to Amercia than if he escapes unharmed and the so-called investigation defeated. And of course the pursuers are ardent politically-driven zealouts searching through, not the hall of statesmanship and high politics, but through dirty bedsheets where, in truth, they have no business whatsoever.

The charges are perjury, subornation of perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit all of them. Each offense carries a maximum of five years in prison, except for obstruction, which can be up to 10 years. Plus, impeachment itself is an issue which makes it a first-order political crisis, and Mr. Clinton, as reported everywhere is very, very popular right now. As everyone knows, Monica has struck up a very beneficial immunity agreement with the investigators, so what she says, or doesn't say, plays an enormous role. For example, if she says that she encouraged the President to assuage his loneliness, that he was always a perfect gentleman who always proceeded with care and affection, well, that will be one thing. If she says he was crass and deliberate, clearly a predator looking to take advantage of his position, then there will be hell to pay. And, remember, there is all kinds of testimony waiting to be revealed: Marcia Lewis, Linda Tripp and her darkly recorded answering machine tapes, gifts and the innumerable hours of Monica and Linda tripping through the entire scenario building mutual testimony, which Monica thought was just coversation at the time but the draconian Trippster, knew it was much more than that.

And if Monica says that they did have a sexual relationship, and that they discussed ways to conceal it, who among you will be surprised? Who among you will cast the first criminal or impeachment stone? Not me. You? But don't worry the Repubicans are all in a line for that honor.

What if he did lie (technically, not spiritually) under oath in the Paula Corbin case? Now the process comes to that taudry testimony. What exactly did he say? The legal protocols and procedures of evaluating all of those words and all of that testimony, in front of the Grand Jury, was excruciatingly tedious, don't you agree? But, behind it all, Starr is not widely expected to bring criminal charges against Mr. Clinton on his relationship with Ms. Corbin. Neither is Congress widely expected to bring impeachment proceedings against a widely popular sitting President n that case. But Starr is going to "file a report" with Congress. And, it is the content of that report, to which all intellectual and gossipy eyes are now turning. For, it is pure prelude, and for that, interesting in and of itself.

So, there is no contingency that realistically looks like the President faces any real consequences from whatever happened with Paula Corbin.

In the same way, any establishment of perjury in the Paula Jones case will be almost meaningless because the case was dismissed. Plus the nature of the President's testimony and possible perjury would not be "material" (meaning both relevant and consequential) to that case: i.e., whether or not he had sex with Monica has no legal bearing on whether or not he oafishly and harassingly proposed on-the-spot sex with Paula, but perhaps not vica versa.

The next issuein sequence is the subornation of perjury issue which hangs on what exactly did the President suggest to Monica regarding her exposure and possible future testimony. "Hey, Monica, let's just keep this between us," is OK. Even, "No matter what, Honey, this little episode is private," is OK. But, "Hey, Monica, let's tell everyone that we were never alone together and that you were just coming up here to see Bette Curie, your new best friend, OK?" will not, not, be good. The bets are that all of his comments to Monica will be ambiguous and interpretations will vary. Gifts will come up and where are they now? Whether Clinton told her to hide them or to be discrete will be investigated. Also, whether they can prove that whatever Bill said to Monica she took as an order, or whether their relationship was more evenly perceived is another big issue. That one will be up to what Monica says. "Hey Monica, why don't you stop by after work?" Was that a Presidential command? Or a lover's thoughtfulness? The Federal statute states: "Whoever knowingly uses intimidation, threatens or corruptly persuades another person with intent to influence, delay, or prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding...." Can, or will, Monica convincingly make that case believable? That the President used his office to intimidate and threaten her into having sex with him? Very doubtful. But the prosecution will definitely imply, intuit and endlessly suggest it, to be sure. Starr will have to prove a "corrupt intent" on Bill Clinton's part. That'll be tough.

Look at these polls numbers, ye mighty, and despair!

Do you believe the President had an affair with Monica Lewinsky: 71 % yes, 21% no.

How is Clinton handling his job? 62% approve, 31 % disapprove.

Is Clinton's sexual behavior relevant? 65% not relevant, 31% relevant.

Should the President be impeached: 21% yes, 70% no.

Plus, the CNN poll revealed that if you are a Congressman and vote to impeach, you will face a far more difficult reelection campaign than if you don't vote to impeach.

So, when all is said and done, more will be said than done. President Clinton will serve out his term and go on to other things. We may or may not hear
the speech (or some version of it) I wrote for him, but in any case this is a classic political "strutting and fretting," and in the end will signify nothing, except the increasing personalization of the relationship between the American people and the President which in the long and short of it all will actually be a good thing. More and more you see real people running for office; people who are imperfect but who are willing to admit it and who still stand for things that are important to us all.

After all, the best definition of friendship I've ever heard is: someone who knows you, and still likes you.

Hey, Monica! Thanks. In the end, you did us all a good deed. (Hopefully.)
See you next time?


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