Bill Clinton
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If there is one word that popped into my mind when I listened to Bill Clinton's one hour speech it was the word statism. Statism is defined as follows:

"...A philosophy of government by which the state (or government) is viewed not only as the final ruling authority but the ultimate agency of redemption... In the philosophy of statism, the government is conceived of as autonomous. It may take shape in an autonomous king, an autonomous dictator, an autonomous committee, or even in an autonomous democratic populous...I call the dream of statist redemption a myth because it cannot become a reality. The dream quickly becomes a nightmare. The size of government increases geometrically as more and more demands are placed upon it. The power of government increases geometrically as more hope is invested in it. Finally the cost of government increases geometrically as the price tag for the provisions escalates. While all this happens, the ability of government to function diminishes geometrically as it builds bigger and bigger deficits and drains more and more of the nation's resources. Its laws become confused and contradictory, its operation becomes unwieldy and paralyzed, and its excellence diminishes with the diminished quality of its leaders..."

STATISM: Land of the Free. by R. C. Sproul

Also:

Against the Tide: Four Alternative Movements, quoting from this article:

"...Pope Leo argued, "The contention that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error." While [Henry Cabot] Lodge insisted, "Government is but a tool. If ever we come to the place where our tools determine what jobs we can or cannot do, and by what means, then nary a fortnight shall pass in which new freedoms shall be wrested from us straight-away. Societal problems are solved by families and communities as they carefully and discriminately use a variety of tools." They believed charity--like so much else in society--should be designed to avoid what Leo called the "interference of the state beyond its competence... According to Lodge, "Multiple jurisdictions and free associations are hedges against both tyranny and anarchy, against both cultural hegemony and civil disintegration.

[Abraham] Kuyper said, "According to the Word of God, the family is portrayed as the wonderful creation through which the rich fabric of our organic human life must spin itself out." Again he said, "The tasks of family in society lie outside government's jurisdiction. With those it is not to meddle." Pope Leo called the family "the true society." Lodge called it the primary building block of our culture. Nay, it is itself our culture' ".

One of the harshest and most imbedded impositions/powers of the federal government is the power of taxation. Bill Clinton would lift this burden slightly:

Provided we educate ourselves and our children in federally qualified and acceptable programs.
Provided we choose the benefits of home ownership (Elimination, under all conditions of the capital gains tax upon sale).
Provided we engage in activities that the government considers efficacious or moral. For example, the hiring of a person off of welfare (with wages, in some cases, supplemented by public assistance dollars).

Nobody believes more strongly in literacy, health and welfare reform and the importance of family than I do. However, is it so difficult to peer into a not distant future and become very frightened? A future where a government regulates its citizens in all of the particulars of their lives. A government that destroys the energy and vitality of the populace, that feeds upon itself and ultimately destroys individual liberty. Why can't communities solve illiteracy without federal involvement. Let children's schools be strengthened with the sweat and tears of creative educators, loving, involved parents and open young minds. Like President Clinton, I support public charter schools, that in principle provide for full school accountability and autonomy. Let employers working with their employees set fair family leave policies. Let communities, churches and families minister to the needs of the less fortunate. Restore the necessity of individuals and communities to decide what will become of their lives, their schools, their businesses, their old, their young, their weak, their sick. Too many chronically uninvolved Americans complain bitterly over the direction of a nation they take no personal responsibility for. As Thomas Jefferson wrote: "The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits." And Again, "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."

It would be grossly unfair to characterize "statism" as a Clinton trend or to suggest that Bill Clinton is its primary or only exponent. Almost from the day the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788, federal power has steadily increased and centralized, whether by amendments to the constitution, increasingly broad interpretations of constitutional law or an increasingly intrusive federal bureaucracy. For example, no one questions the significance of the Marbury v. Madison Supreme Court decision, the enactment of the fourteenth amendment, government regulation of interstate commerce and the continually expanding notions of due process and equal protection. Yet all of these have, for reasons of altruism and practical necessity, contributed to the intrusive federal influence. The question then is how we limit such influence while continuing to evolve as a modern and just society. It is that question that our politicians must squarely face if totalitarianism is to be avoided.

Not withstanding, Bill Clinton seems to have no great inclination to preserve or defend individual rights and freedoms. Whether it's the enactment of sweeping anti-terrorist laws, the V-Chip, the Clipper chip, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 or the right to own firearms, Clinton prefers to suspend or abolish the rights of citizens the government and/or the legal system classifies as "undesirable". According to Clinton, if you were once convicted (rightly or wrongly) of spousal or child abuse, you shouldn't be able to own a gun. Three strikes and you are out, regardless of the severity of your crimes (at least in California, perhaps not federally). If you have ever been convicted of a crime, that information is easily available from the government for a small sum and may be published in your local newspaper. Much of this is under the guise of a proposed constitutional amendment for victim's rights- presumably because these policies might be unconstitutional otherwise.

Clinton advocates campaign finance reform while he actively courts special interests (foreign and domestic) and their money. He gracefully promises to not personally attack the character of Bob Dole (thus setting up the expectation that Dole should do likewise), knowing full well that it is his character and public/private morality that has been in question almost from the day he took public office in Arkansas. Certainly, both candidates need to be closely scrutinized. If the press is to timid to do this, we can at least be confident that the candidates are sufficiently motivated to watch over each other!!

Summary: In his speech Clinton outlined a benevolent, well meaning political agenda, heavily focused on the themes of education and family. These themes paralleled those in the First Lady's compassionate book "It takes A Village". In the name of children and their futures (and hence America's future), Clinton's domestic policies would dramatically increase the federal government's role in our daily lives, while claiming the opposite. It is the family, local community, state government and innumerable private associations and organizations, not the federal government that should be the primary vehicle for people to govern their lives. Clinton's "bridge to the 21st century" may be an unwitting bridge to future totalitarianism for the sake of "progress".

As de Tocqueville wrote:

" The political world is metamorphosed: new remedies must henceforth be sought for new disorders. To lay down extensive but distinct and settled limits to the action of government; to confer certain rights on private persons, and to secure them the undisputed enjoyment of those rights; to enable individual man to maintain whatever independence, strength, and original power he still possesses; to raise him by the society at large, and uphold him in that position,- these appear to me the main objects of legislators in the ages upon which we are entering."

And with respect to the Supreme Court, Justice Felix Frankfurter, a strong advocate of "rigorous judicial self restraint" wrote:

"If the function of this Court is to be essentially no different from that of a legislature, if the considerations governing constitutional construction are to be substantially those that underlie legislation, then indeed judges should not have life tenure and they should be made directly responsible to the electorate."


Democracy in America- Not

A Time to Impeach

See: President Bill Clinton - The Dark Side; BeachBum's Clinton Scandal Page and for a somewhat damning perspective on the Starr investigation: "The Salon Report on Kenneth Starr."

Chronology

bullet Latest Scandal
bullet February 12, 1999
bullet December 25, 1998
bullet September 21, 1998
bullet August 23, 1998
bullet August 17, 1998
bullet August 6, 1998
bullet January 25, 1998
bullet October 22,1997
bullet April 15, 1997

February 23, 2001: The Clinton presidency ended over a month ago and one would hope, the scandals as well. But not so... If the President's fouls ups weren't so egregious and stupid they would almost be funny. As Joel Achenbach penned in a Washington Post column dated 2/23/01 entitled, "The Clinton Cosa Nostra":

"Now we know: The Clintons ARE the Sopranos. With each passing day we face a new rash of questions about the knowledge and motivations of what is now the nation's most notorious underworld family [referring to Clinton's unpardonable Presidential pardons, some with apparent payoff and/or family connections].

I write these words knowing that goon squads of the Clinton-Rodham operation could try to have me rubbed out by nightfall. I'll take the usual precautions. Always take a seat facing the door. Never let the barber cover my face with a hot cloth. Before I eat a meatball, toss one to the dog and wait a few minutes. At night, wear the Kevlar bathrobe."

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February 12, 1999: William Jefferson Clinton was acquitted today by the Senate of charges he committed perjury and obstructed justice. While practically no member of the Senate would characterize Clinton's behavior as less than reprehensible, a majority of Senators were unwilling to vote guilty on either charge. Even censure now appears unlikely since Republicans perceive it as a way for Democrats to assuage their collective consciences and constituencies.

Is the acceptable standard of conduct for the Commander in Chief lower than for a regular member of the Armed Forces? Apparently yes. Does a high public opinion poll rating, take precedence over the Constitution when deciding matters of impeachment? Again, the answer seems to be yes. In any case, the President's legal dilemmas will not end with his Presidency- eventually justice will prevail.

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December 25, 1998: The impeachment process drags on, with Democratic and Republican Senators and two former Presidents suggesting censure versus an impeachment trial. Whatever the outcome, I consider Clinton to be a reprehensible and unstable figure in American politics. He lacks dignity, propriety and even the appearance of integrity. His past and present actions warrant removal from office. One may, for example,  legitimately call into question the motives behind, and the timing of, the recent bombings in Iraq. Will Clinton's stop at nothing to preserve his Presidency? Doesn't he realize, that his Presidency has effectively ended, since political leadership without public trust is meaningless and possibly dangerous. As for public opinion polls- they are as fickle as the President himself. As for the President's supposed enemies- there is none greater than himself. It is indeed, a time to impeach. Hopefully, principled Democrats will join hands with Republicans to make the correct and seemingly difficult choices.

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September 21, 1998: The videotape of Clinton's August 17th Grand Jury testimony was made public today. Based on public reaction thus far, the political battlefield remains unchanged. While Democrats prematurely formulate a "harsh," short of impeachment Presidential punishment, new information from Starr and others is being readied that will make an even stronger case for abuse of power. White House attempts to discredit Starr's investigation, while momentarily propping the President's approval ratings will backfire in the long run.

According to Dick Morris, a former advisor and consultant to the President, "Beginning as early as 1990, Clinton surrounded himself with detectives and negative-research specialists who collectively have become a kind of secret police force to protect his interests." Morris then relates incidents of intimidation involving Kathleen Willey and former Miss America, Elizabeth Ward Gracen. The thrust of Morris's article is that Clinton's cover-up and associated intimidation and threats against innocent Americans may prove his final undoing. Certainly, no one could plausibly argue that Gracen, Wiley, Dolly Kyle Browning, Paula Jones, etc. are any less credible than the President.

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August 23, 1998: The embarrassment the President feared is becoming even more evident as details of (his) sexual perversion begin to flood the media. How much of this can the public endure before snickers turn into derision and finally total disgust and rejection? At some point the issue(s) of perjury may become secondary in the public's mind to those of public and private morality. When this occurs, the President's power base could be completely destroyed.

Perhaps, the "collective will/unconscious", wants the President to stay in office just long enough to assure themselves that the so-called "witch hunt", is far more an indictment of the Clinton presidency than the combined enmity of long time Clinton foes. When the collective will is satisfied, the Clinton Presidency may become dispensable in the public's eye. Continued "defections" of influential Democrats and other media, business and theological opinion makers will hasten this process. International crisis, while temporarily "helping" the President's "plight" by shifting focus, will ultimately do further harm to his cause as the people ask, "Can we entrust this man with the lives of our sons and daughters."

My advice to the President is to strongly and publicly admit his guilt and fallibility, ask for forgiveness and then demonstrate placing the public interest paramount by resigning. In this way he may achieve some victory from defeat, and as a former president be honored and respected enough to retain a favorable place in history. Sometimes a leader must "sacrifice" him or her self for the common weal. Is Clinton ethically and morally capable of doing this? Clinton may decide to "tough it out," but is this only delaying the inevitable? The Presidency is a very powerful, yet circumscribed office. A President's "freedom of action" is often very limited and the consequences of those actions quite predictable. If the President is confident the Starr report will vindicate him, then he should stay in office. If he believes he can "survive" by discrediting Starr's investigation and a report that documents a pattern of abuse- he is sadly deluded. If anything he should be praising Starr, if not for his tactics or underlying motivation, at least for his insistence on the rule of law and public accountability.

Are the known actions of Bill Clinton, grounds for impeachment? This is what Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers Number 65.

"The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself. The prosecution of them, for this reason, will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. In many cases it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side or on the other; and in such cases there will always be the greatest danger that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt. Is it [impeachment] not designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men?"

Article II, section 4 of the Constitution also states that," The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."

Of course the phrase "abuse or violation of some public trust" is subject to interpretation. Still it is clear that impeachment was not intended strictly as a judicial process. In part this may have been to avoid "double jeopardy." Illegal acts such as treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors are therefore only one, though obviously powerful and determinative, basis for impeachment. Further, the burden and seriousness of impeachment was deemed too great to rest within the decision-making authority of a relatively small body of men, such as the Supreme Court. The British model was used, where two houses of the legislature would be involved, one to prefer impeachment, the other, in our case the Senate, to try impeachment. The requirement of a two-thirds majority in the Senate implies that the basis for impeachment must be strong and not capricious.

In Clinton's case, lying to a Grand Jury and/or inducing others to lie, constitutes much more than a misdemeanor and may be determinative, i.e.., the Congress may have no choice but to impeach. Blatant and repeatedly lying to the American people is an obvious violation of public trust. Both actions are joined and call into question, not only the President's integrity but his trustworthiness and fitness for office. That the issues center around sexual impropriety is not a mitigating circumstance, especially in the light of past recurring incidents of impropriety and cover-up. Therefore, in my opinion, there is sufficient basis for impeachment. 

I feel sorry for Bill Clinton. "Life" all to often exposes our vulnerabilities. While it teaches us lessons about ourselves, its methods are frequently cruel. A President's weaknesses are magnified and stand as sore wounds, exposed to the world's uncaring and indifferent gaze. Perhaps only driving ambition, naiveté and idealism drives men and woman into public office. Whatever the reward, the costs seem excruciatingly high. One may, however, share a less sympathetic perspective. Examine the following quote from Cal Thomas' August 25, 1998 editorial in the Jewish World Review:

Fyodor Dostoevsky eloquently described the effects of a congenital liar in The Brothers Karamazov. He wrote, "Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself ...'' 

The President's oft tendency to "split hairs," both in public and in private, suggest he is an habitual liar- deluded by his own lies.

Finally, there is talk that the Administration may engage in a kind of "scorched earth" policy, threatening to expose the personal foibles and indiscretions of members of Congress if articles of impeachment are brought forward. Such a policy would eliminate all sympathy for the President's cause and fully unite Congressional Democrats and Republicans against him. Unwise.

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August 17, 1998: "The Presidency that Hinged on a Blue Dress and a Cigar," The President addressed the nation on the evening of August 17, 1998 and admitted what three quarters of the American people already knew: that he had a sexual, in his words, "not appropriate" relationship with Lewinsky and had lied about it. Clearly he appeared to "come clean" because: (1) Further perjury would bring more severe consequences (to himself) and (2) He seemed confident that he did not technically commit perjury during the Paula Jones' trial, even with the admission (The President: "While my answers were legally accurate, I did not volunteer information"). His statement to the American people was "appropriately" apologetic, while at the same time, expressing defiance toward Starr's investigation. While the President addressed all the issues raised by his polling of the American people, he did not, in my opinion, address the core issue, i.e., a violation of the public trust. He did not "merely" create a false impression or mislead the American people (Again The President, "I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression"), he deliberately and coldly lied to them.  He even went to the lengths of rehearing his denial (and his latest act of contrition) with a Hollywood director or producer. The almost twenty year pattern of his sexual promiscuity and subsequent cover-up by his closest advisors, including Mrs. Clinton, suggests that the First Lady had full or partial knowledge of what occurred back in January. What has occurred is not an isolated act of grievous misjudgment, a "critical lapse in judgment." Further, Mrs. Clinton (along with her husband) has not been free of accusations of scandal in other areas (Whitewater, cattle futures, the White House Travel Office, campaign finance, the Vince Foster death, etc.).

The Special Prosecutor will attempt to make a case to Congress that Clinton: (1) Directly or indirectly asked, prodded and/or induced Lewinsky to lie to the Grand Jury and (2) That Clinton himself lied to both the January and August Grand Juries. He will do so, despite, Lewinsky's denial of the first claim. Starr's case will be based on evidence and the test of reasonableness. If he is successful (which is likely), a rapid succession of events may be unleashed that forces the impeachment process. Predictably, most Republicans will probably vote for impeachment, most Democrats against. With a two-thirds majority required in the senate, it seems unlikely, at least at present, that the President would be impeached. The results of the upcoming November elections may work in the President's favor if he can successfully shift focus from himself to Starr and "his" investigation.

Clinton leaves on what may be an ill timed vacation. Embassy bombings, Iraq's threats to inspectors, a shattering Asian economy and spreading world recession, instability in Northern Ireland, stalemate in the Middle East, etc. require the full attention of a focused, astute leader. Is that what we have now? As the President said, "We have important work to do — real opportunities to seize, real problems to solve, real security matters to face."

A chilling question remains:  The President forcefully and coldly lied to the American people (admitted) and a Grand Jury (both the one in January '98 and the one in August '98- despite his denials) to avoid, political and personal "embarrassment." Would he have been vulnerable to blackmail from foreign or domestic agents that threatened to expose his lie if Kenneth Starr's investigation had not revealed it first? What other lies has the President told and what individuals or groups have him in their grasp? The line between a politician's private and public life is far thinner than the President would have us believe.

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August 6, 1998: Clinton has, through his lack of integrity, further eroded the Office of the Presidency. Who could have imagined (or would want to have imagined) a public "conversation" on whether fellatio is "sex" or whether the President after forcefully lying about the charges leveled against him, should repent, seek, and receive forgiveness? It seems almost inconceivable that Lewinsky is lying. Why would she seek transactional immunity if she didn't need it? Why would she lie after being granted immunity? Must we have a President who sits on the edge while the FBI does a DNA analysis of semen (allegedly his) on a woman's dress?

If the President remains in office, either through lying to the Grand Jury or admitting guilt, would Americans accept his sincerity on any substantive issue, domestic or foreign? The answer to this question is very unclear. Perhaps the President should be forgiven. However, in my opinion, the end does not justify the means and no matter how worthy, hardworking and popular Clinton may be, it is obvious his word is not his bond- perhaps it never was. Ironically, his staunchest supporters will be hurt the most- whether or not he now tells the truth.

Certainly Clinton understands that impeachment, disbarment and post-presidential legal challenges are probable consequences of further perjury, with or without a Gore Presidential pardon. Truthfulness may head off some of these. If the President lies, history will remember him, at least in part, as a deviant/unusual case and nothing will shield him from the law. If he should be truthful, it will attest to the power of public opinion and further reinforce the principle that no citizen is above the law. If he is found to be innocent of all charges- history will perceive him as a martyr, subject to the viciousness of presidential politics circa the late twentieth century. However, that is only if he is being truthful. A martyr dos not lie to protect himself. It would be ludicrous to say he lied to protect his family- in fact, they appear to be willing conspirators.

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January 25, 1998: New accusations of lying under oath during the Paula Jones trial coupled with hints of  offering "inducements" to Monica Lewinsky to deny trysts in the White House threaten to further erode and possibly destroy Clinton's presidency. The President has clearly demonstrated a pattern of marital infidelity and sexual promiscuousness dating back from his earliest days in politics. Aides, including his wife, have thus far successfully shielded him from the consequences of his sexual appetites. Unwittingly or not they have contributed to his state of denial, having become "enablers." However, if Lewinsky and independent counsel Starr credibly substantiate the claim that Lewinsky was encouraged to lie under oath, the President may be forced to leave office or perhaps face impeachment.

There is a tragic dimension to Clinton's current dilemma. That which brought him to power contributes to his downfall. A downfall witnessed by politicians and a country whose sexual morality is no more elevated than his. A country if you will in "denial." As with most tragic reversals, perhaps the "victim" will come full circle reaching greater self understanding and inner peace. Hopefully Lewinsky can live her life in happiness and peace as well. A peace not yet experienced by Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers. See also the ACLU's statement concerning the Starr inquiry into Bill Clinton's alleged crimes (1/28/98).

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October 22,1997: Where's (to use an expression) the beef? It is now October 22nd and Clinton appears well on his way to reelection. The President, leveraging a "good" economy and learning his "lessons" from the past four years, has not staked one potentially controversial position that would subject him to partisan Republican attack. While maintaining a lead in the polls, Clinton chooses "not to rock the boat".

He has not articulated a clear, forcefully stated vision for the United States or the World. He has not accomplished or committed himself to anything that will, in the light of history, distinguish him as a great and forceful leader. It is true that misconceived grand schemes are dangerous and inaction or drift may be preferable to such schemes. However, lack of vision and purpose can be even more dangerous in a world drifting towards ecological disaster.

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April 15, 1997: The Clinton presidency is in deep trouble. Accusations continue to mount in three areas:

bullet Whitewater scandal, accusations of Clinton lying under oath about knowledge of an illegal loan.
bullet Selling the White House to the highest bidder to raise reelection money.
bullet Broad involvement of key Executive branch staff in illegal fund raising and obstruction of justice activities.
bullet Various abuses of power, including use of illegally obtained FBI files for political purposes.

See: " A Cancer on the Presidency", By Jerome M. Zeifman, October 25,1996

 

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