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Jewish World Review May 30, 2000 /25 Iyar, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Consumer Reports


Clinton: Above
the law or not? -- CONCERNING THE ARKANSAS DISBARMENT proceedings against Bill Clinton, "the president's credentials as an attorney are under challenge because he decided, after careful planning, to testify falsely."

Believe it or not, those are not my words, but those of the venerable friend of Bill, the New York Times. Even the Old Gray Lady didn't buy into Clinton's preposterous claim that his deceptive testimony in the Jones case was "legally accurate." Nor did Judge Wright who found Clinton in contempt of court for "giving false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process."

Not to worry. Clinton still has his defenders. One of them, Gene Lyons, explains why Clinton was justified in defrauding the court. "If legally bound to tell the truth, most people would accept the argument that Clinton had a moral right to hide his sin. (A morally defensible lie? Sure. 'Is your Daddy home, little girl? Or are you here all alone?')"

But Clinton will not stoop to defend himself. No, sir. He told NBC's Tom Brokaw, "I will not personally involve myself in any of this until I'm no longer president. It's not right. The only reason I agreed even to appeal it is that my lawyers looked at all the precedents and they said there's no way in the world, if they just treat you like everybody else has been treated, that this is even close to that kind of case."

Intending no disrespect, do you not see the irony screaming out at us here? While placing himself above the law he pretends to be the white knight riding in to rescue the system. He is telling us that if he were only looking at this from his own personal perspective he wouldn't bother contesting the disbarment recommendation. How quaint.

Let me see if I can cut through the Clintonese and put this in layman's terms: Anyone, including a federal judge, who dares to charge Clinton with misconduct, is threatening our constitutional system. I'm not being facetious. Isn't that exactly what he was saying when he argued that by defending himself against impeachment he was defending the Constitution? And isn't that the very sort of unbounded hubris he was displaying when he also told Tom Brokaw, "So the precedents contradict this decision, and ultimately, the decision has to be made by a judge. And so we're going to give the judge a chance to do what we believe is right, and I think that's the right thing to do"? Bill Clinton, on his regal throne, high above the reaches of the law, is going to give the lowly judge a chance not to cross him.

That's precisely the contemptuous attitude he exhibited throughout the Jones case and the impeachment proceedings. Do you not remember his mocking derision before the grand jury? He could barely contain his sneer when he said, "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."

I will concede the nearly unbelievable possibility that Clinton still may be fooling some of his holdout Kool-Aid drinking loyalists when he says that he won't be defending himself. But we students of Clinton know that just as with Waco and Elian he is calling all of the shots, right down to the molecular level. He has to defend himself because despite what he and his buds are telling us, the humiliating disbarment recommendation did not come from a partisan panel, but a judicial tribunal. Unlike he has done with impeachment, he cannot paint this as simply a matter of politics.

And one thing that Clinton is arguing, through his dutiful surrogates, is that the court should consider his 20 years of public service in mitigation of the charges against him. That might work -- except for one thing. In my limited experience as a criminal lawyer, I can tell you that judges are not generally inclined toward leniency unless the defendant is genuinely contrite about his wrongdoing. Regardless of the court's ultimate decision in this matter, Clinton is hardly a candidate for leniency. He is not a person who is humbly placing himself at the mercy of the court, but a person, who through his every defiant word and action tells us he is above the law. We'll just have to wait and see if he's right.

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.



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05/22/00: Gore's risky, fear-mongering schemes
05/17/00: Can Bush risk pro-choice running mate?
05/15/00: Right to privacy, Clinton-style
05/10/00: Patrick Kennedy and his suit-happy fiddlers
05/08/00: Don't shoot Eddie Eagle
05/03/00: Congress caves to Clinton, again?
05/01/00: The resurrection of outrage
04/28/00: A picture of Bill Clinton's America
04/19/00: President Clinton: Teaching children responsibility
04/17/00: Elian, Marx and parental rights
04/12/00: Elian, freedom deserve a hearing
04/10/00:The fraying of America
04/05/00: Noonan: End Clintonism now
04/03/00: Bush: On going for the gold
03/29/00: Phantasma-Gore-ia
03/27/00: Treaties, triggers, tobacco and tyrants
03/22/00: Media to Bush: Go left, young man
03/20/00: Stop the insanity
03/15/00: OK Al Gore: Let's go negative
03/13/00: Deifying of the center
03/08/00: The media, the establishment and the people
03/01/00: McCain's coalition-busting daggers in GOP's heart
02/28/00: Bush's silver lining in McMichigan
02/24/00: A conservative firewall, after all
02/22/00: Bush or four more of Clinton-Gore?
02/16/00: Substance trumps process
02/14/00: The campaign finance reform mirage
02/09/00: President McCain: End of the GOP as we know it?
02/07/00: From New Hampshire to South Carolina
02/02/00: SDI must fly
01/31/00: Veep gores Bradley
01/26/00: The issues gap
01/24/00: GOP: Exit, stage left
01/20/00: Nationalizing congressional elections
01/18/00: Do voters really prefer straight talk?
01/12/00: Media's McCain efforts may backfire
01/10/00: Conservative racism myth
01/05/00: Just one more year of Clintonian politics
01/03/00: McMedia?
12/27/99: Al Gore: Bullish on government
12/22/99: Bradley's full-court press
12/20/99: Bush: Rendering unto Caesar
12/15/99: Beltway media bias
12/13/99: White House ambulance chasing
12/08/99: Clinton's labor pains
12/06/99:The lust for power
12/01/99: In defense of liberty
11/29/99: Are Republicans obsolete?
11/24/99: Say you're sorry, Mr. President
11/22/99: Architects of victory
11/17/99: Trump's tax on freedom
11/15/99: GOP caves again
11/10/99: Triangulation and 'The Third Way'
11/08/99: Sticks and stones
11/03/99: Keyes vs. media lapdogs
11/01/99: Signs of the times
10/27/99: The false charge of isolationism
10/25/99: A matter of freedom
10/20/99: Clinton's mini-meltdown
10/18/99: Senate GOP shows statesmanship
10/13/99: Senate must reject nuclear treaty
10/11/99: Bush bites feeding hand
10/06/99: Jesse accidentally opens door for Pat
10/04/99: Clinton and his media enablers
09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
09/27/99: The Clinton/Gore taint?
09/22/99: Have gun (tragedy), will travel
09/20/99: Hillary's blunders and bloopers
09/15/99: GOP must remain conservative
09/13/99:Time for Bush to take charge, please
09/10/99: Bush's education plan: Dubya confounds again
09/07/99: Pat, savior or spoiler?
09/02/99: Character doesn't matter?
08/30/99: Should we judge?
08/25/99: Dubyah's drug question: Not a hill to die on
08/23/99: Should Dubyah start buying soap ... for all that mud?
08/16/99: 'W' stands for 'winner'
08/11/99: The truth about tax cuts
08/09/99: Hillary: Threading the needle
08/04/99: What would you do?
08/02/99: No appeasement for China
07/30/99: Hate Crimes Bill: Cynical Symbolism
07/26/99: Itís the 'moderates', stupid
07/21/99: JFK Jr. and Diana: the pain of privilege
07/19/99: Smith, Bush and the GOP
07/14/99: GOP must be a party of ideas
07/12/99: Gore's gender gap
07/08/99: Clintonís faustian bargain: our justice
07/06/99: The key to Bush's $36 million
06/30/99: Gore: a soda in every fountain
06/28/99: 'Sacred wall' or religious barrier?
06/23/99: GOP must lead in foreign policy
06/21/99: Crumbs of compassion
06/16/99: Compassionate conservatism: face-lift or body transplant?
06/10/99: Victory in Kosovo? Now What?