Lonely At The Top; Liar, Liar; Fair Weather Friends


Jonah Goldberg

Check NR’s Jonah Goldberg on Politically Incorrect.

In the President’s testimony he said, “It depends on what you mean by alone,” when asked if he lied about being alone with Monica Lewinsky in his sworn Paula Jones deposition. Okay: the President has a highly subjective, weird, mealy-mouthed, for-his-purposes-only definition of “alone.” So be it. It’s his game, his definition. Here is the relevant passage from Clinton’s videotaped testimony.


QUESTION: Do you agree with me that the statement, ‘’I was never alone with her,’’ is incorrect? You were alone with Monica Lewinsky, weren’t you?

CLINTON: Well, again, it depends on how you define alone. Yes, we were alone from time to time, even during 1997, even when there was absolutely no improper contact occurring. Yes, that is accurate.

But, there were also a lot of times when, even though no one could see us, the doors were open to the halls, on both ends of the halls, people could hear. . . . So, there were a lot of times when we were alone, but I never really thought we were. . . .

I understand that there are so many examples of the President’s lying that we tend to let a lot of them fall by the wayside like bad apples in an orchard. But Mr. Clinton says that alone means “alone” when he wants it to mean “alone” but other times even though he uses the word alone it doesn’t mean alone. After all, his prepared Grand Jury statement — which he used to shield himself from “prying questions” — BEGINS: “When I was alone with Monica Lewinsky. . .”

It is one (reprehensible) thing to lie through narrow definitions. It is quite another to lie by saying words have totally fungible, utilitarian, and personalized meanings, subject to change without notification. Ontologically there is no difference between the above trickery and calling an apple a tuba.

There may be larger issues of State involved in this scandal. There may be no larger issue for civilized life.

George Priest in today’s Wall Street Journal [Link defunct]

Monica Lewinsky says she lied to Linda Tripp during her lunch at the Ritz Hotel. She says, suspecting Linda was wearing a wire, that she lied about Vernon Jordan’s involvement, Clinton’s obstruction of justice, and their combined subordination of perjury.

I resolutely believe Monica is lying about lying to Linda. But let’s take her at her word for a moment. Monica Lewinsky credibly lied to Linda Tripp (I say “credibly” because even Starr, Reno, and a three Judge panel believed her) about the perpetration of serious crimes. So, Linda was justified in making her tapes and taking the actions she felt appropriate to bring these crimes to light. If that’s the case, why isn’t the White House saying “Sorry for the mix-up. Linda was behaving honorably according to inaccurate information.”

Of course, there’s always the more likely scenario. Monica Lewinsky, Ken Starr’s star witness, lied to the Grand Jury about the cover-up. But Starr cannot undermine the testimony of his prime witness who he has immunized. I believe this is the case and that we’ve got a long road ahead of us.

We all know that Bill Clinton thinks that he was destined to be President. We know it’s what he wanted more than anything, like a giant puppy on the Christmas Day of life.

No wonder then that he thinks impeachment would be unfair punishment. But, impeachment is not a process of criminal law. It is not punishment. It is a political process designed to maintain the integrity of, well, the Political Process. If it punishes Bill Clinton unfairly, that has absolutely no bearing on whether or not impeachment is called for. This is why this talk of “censure” is so offensive and ridiculous. A “plea bargain” as they call it, works on the assumption that impeachment is punishment or retribution.

We are told, endlessly, that impeachment is the second most solemn Constitutional mechanism short of a Declaration of War. Well, a Declaration of War is profoundly unfair to lots of people. The last one resulted in the “unfair” deaths of tens of millions during World War Two. So what? It was still justified. In fact, it was a moral obligation.

“Fairness” is a tiny, minuscule, mousy notion compared to the issues at work in such grand Constitutional considerations as War and Impeachment. Bill Clinton, and those whose jobs are tied to his tenure, think it would be unfair to be fired because of a mere “sexual dalliance.” Absolutely so. I’m sure John Podesta’s family would find it unfair. But Bill Clinton put his own venal needs and ego above any other considerations. Maybe that’s unfair to his defenders, but impeachment isn’t. Clinton’s actions triggered the mechanisms for impeachment — by virtue of the fact that he is the President of the United States, the sole incarnation of the Executive Branch in our nation of laws. Get over it.