February 10, 2006

What The Republicans Learned From Clinton

In the twilight of Bill Clinton’s presidency, as we all know, he spent a lot of time in the hot seat, literally, as he responded to the scandal of his extra-marital affair with Monica Lewinsky. Yes, he cheated on his wife by engaging in oral sex with a young intern. By the very nature and definition of ‘cheating’, he lied about it as well. However, the actual crime he committed, the reason the Republicans impeached him in the House, was because he lied about it ‘under oath’. Yes, Bill Clinton committed perjury… not by cheating on his wife, but by lying about it ‘under oath’. Cheating on his wife, alone, isn’t even a crime. In fact… lying, alone, isn’t a crime. The crime was lying ‘under oath’.

Flash forward a few years…

Consider the following three actual events:

  • When the 9/11 commission was holding hearings, they very much wanted George W. Bush to testify. He, of course, was an integral player in the decisions that were made and the actions that were taken in the months following the most devastating attack on US soil in decades.Bush stonewalled the 9/11 commission for months until finally agreeing to address their questions. However, he refused to testify in front of cameras (he did it privately in the White House), he insisted on having Dick Cheney present during the questioning, AND he refused to testify ‘under oath’.We know that a substantial amount of Bush’s testimony must have been lies because we know that he lied to the American people about the reasons for taking us to war in Iraq.
  • Last November the CEO’s of the 5 major oil companies testified before a congressional committee about the sudden and seemingly unsubstantiated rise in gas prices. Senator Ted Stevens (R, Alaska) presided over the hearing and refused to swear in the oil execs as they commenced the hearing. Even after requesting that they be sworn in by other members of the committee, Senator Stevens refused, even to the point of making a public spectacle of it (Thank You, Jon Stewart).We know that these men lied when they were questioned about speaking with Administration officials about the country’s energy needs and policies. In fact, these very same individuals were part & parcel to the formulation of the Bush Administration’s Energy Policy by meeting with Dick Cheney in that secret Energy Task Force in 2001. However, since they weren’t sworn in, they didn’t lie ‘under oath’.
  • Just this week Alberto Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Bush Administration’s controversial surveillance policy of warrant-less wiretapping. As he danced around most of the (very direct) questions, he lied-through-his-teeth… repeatedly. Citing precedent, Gonzales even testified that President George Washington also conducted electronic surveillance on his enemies (somehow miraculously before electricity had even been invented). However, once again, Chairman Arlen Specter (R, Pennsylvania) refused to have Gonzales sworn in, and therefore be held accountable for making false statements ‘under oath’.
Why is it that some of these Republicans refuse to be sworn in and therefore be on the hook for telling the truth? Perhaps it’s because they’re not telling the truth and they don’t want to be held accountable for lying ‘under oath’. That’s perjury, ya know! We all learned about perjury from Bill Clinton. Perhaps the Republicans (with the exception of Scooter) learned that all too well.


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