JWR Jeff JacobyBen WattenbergRoger Simon
Mona CharenLinda Chavez

Paul Greenberg Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellMUGGERWalter Williams
Don FederCal Thomas
Political Cartoons
Left, Right & Center

Jewish World Review /Nov. 24, 1998 /5 Kislev 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen

Lies, damned lies,
and sex lies

AT THEIR CONVENTION in New Orleans last week, Republican governors were keen to avoid one subject. Education was on the table, along with tax cuts and big government. But whatever you do, participants were cautioned, don't bring up the Big I.

Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, actually scolded the governors for their ostrich stand on impeachment. "As we sit here," he reminded the group, "the House Judiciary Committee is considering whether the president of the United States should be impeached. That is not an insignificant thing, and we shouldn't be saying, 'Oh let's not talk about that, let's talk about education and other important issues.'"

Most Republicans would dearly love for the whole matter to simply go away because they do not wish to seem "judgmental" before an electorate that is intolerant only of intolerance.

For months, I have tried to understand the attitude of millions of my fellow Americans who, faced with unrebutted evidence of presidential law breaking, shrug their shoulders and say, "Let's move on." If I've heard one, I've heard a hundred callers to radio and television programs say, "What the president did was intolerable. But it wasn't impeachable. So drop it."

In other words, what the president did was intolerable, but let's tolerate it.

Perhaps the most charitable way to interpret the attitude of voters is this: If Candidates A and B are having a debate, and Candidate B accuses Candidate A of being a rotten person, while Candidate A insists upon rising above such name calling to address the issues, most voters are going to conclude that the more seemly course is to reject the name caller. No one wants to reward the politics of personal vituperation.

But to continue our thought experiment, suppose Candidate A really is an uncommonly rotten person. Suppose he has cheated on his income taxes, embezzled funds from his law firm and contributed money to the Ku Klux Klan?

By the logic of President Clinton's defenders, all of that is irrelevant. We must only ask, we are instructed, about Candidate (or President) A's policy positions.

The president's champions further claim that only acts "affecting the state" are fit subjects for impeachment. If so, then a president who slandered, assaulted or raped someone could not be impeached on those grounds. That is plainly ridiculous.

Surely we have not abandoned altogether the notion that our political leaders -- in order to merit the honor of making our laws -- be decent human beings. But we do seem to be confused about where to draw the line.

One would think that giving Clinton a "bye" on this particular perjury would be a tough call for liberals. After all, it was in the course of a lawsuit based on a liberal law, sexual harassment, that President Clinton sought to thwart justice. He was the defendant in a civil suit, who, when commanded to answer questions truthfully by a federal judge, chose to lie.

Oh, we are told, that's nothing. People lie all the time about sex. A gentleman should do no less. OK, then let's move to the next logical step: All sexual harassment laws should be stricken from the books, since all such cases pose embarrassing questions to witnesses.

For that matter, we should probably go ahead and remove perjury from the criminal code as well. After all, people lie all the time out of embarrassment about money, drugs, their HIV status and a million other things. There are as many rationalizations about lies as there are liars.

It is President Clinton's singular contribution to American life that he has succeeded in lowering standards on vital matters of character. He was the first draft-dodging, womanizing, pot-smoking candidate to achieve election. In the course of his presidency, Clinton has managed to make selling overnights in the Lincoln bedroom routine, violation of campaign-finance laws a trifle, groping of job seekers a yawn, and fellatio by interns a perk.

The censure that is being cooked up by Democrats and Republicans alike is a meaningless, extraconstitutional fig leaf. If censure becomes the only price Clinton pays, there can be only one lesson from this story: that the country is even less attached to virtue than Clinton is to truth.


11/18/98: Another victory for cowardice
11/16/98: Separatism plus welfarism equals a dead end
11/10/98: Did conservatism lose campaign '98?
11/06/98: Democrat venality, Republican timidity
11/04/98: Are girls being shortchanged?
11/02/98: Believe the children?
10/28/98: What 'Measure 58' would do
10/26/98: The officers are bailing out
10/20/98: Using Matthew Shepard's murder
10/19/98: The school voucher that saved a family
10/14/98: Are powerful women different?
10/09/98: Can just sex be impeachable?
10/07/98: Repeal Miranda
10/02/98: Understanding the polls
10/01/98: What school texts teach about marriage
9/28/98: Fear of choice
9/23/98: A fork in the road: Bubba's fate and ours
9/18/98: Christianity and the Holocaust
9/16/98: The national dirty joke
9/11/98: Are we in crisis?
9/09/98: Does Burton's sin let Clinton off the hook?
9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
7/10/98: Guns as the solution?
7/8/98: Teacher preacher
7/6/98: The China behind the headlines
7/1/98: What is the First Amendment for?
6/26/98: The Republican city
6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.