7/03/2007

What I'm About To Say May Be Really Unpopular...

Before I start, I have to confess that I didn't really follow the whole Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, so if my information is bad, feel free to set me straight. As I understand it, President Clinton lied under oath about his affair with Ms. Lewinsky before a grand jury. Now, before you go into the standard left-wing chorus about how it was all just about a blow-job, blah blah blah, the fact is he lied under oath. Period. For this, he should have been punished appropriately (harshly, in my opinion) no matter who he is or what the question was. The same is true for Scooter Libby. All these republicans saying there is "no underlying crime" are completely disingenuous. According to a court of law, he lied under oath and should be punished - harshly.

In order to get as good a system of justice as we can, people must understand that lying under oath in any court of law carries with it a severe punishment, primarily jail time. Without this threat, the incentive to tell the truth diminishes. Without truth, justice is going to be harder to attain.

Anyone who has been found to have lied under oath should serve hard time, Clinton, Libby, you, me, whoever.

OK, maybe not me. I'm sure I'd have a really good reason for lying. The rest of you, though, hard fucking time. Got it?

14 comments:

Dick Small said...

But see, Chris, THAT'S what makes us Republicans. The rules don't apply.
To us.
Only.

Teri said...

I agree with you Chris. Even though I'm a Clinton fan I think he lied, he should have a punishment.

I think the government is exempt from this though, really. Aren't they? This only applies to the little people, right?

Oh, and I think you should do hard time, like in the rock quarry breakin up rocks, kind of hard.

Frank Sirmarco said...

No arguments here. They think they're all above the law.

TEAR IT DOWN, CHRIS!

Skylers Dad said...

Excellent point Chris, without punishment there is absolutely no incentive to tell the truth.

I say hook up the electrodes to the testicles of those in power and let us mere mortals ask a few, ya know, questions about some shit!

Big Orange said...

as they say in the song, "wuzn't me..."

vikkitikkitavi said...

Well, strictly speaking, lying under oath isn't illegal, perjury is.

For a lie to be perjury, it must be pertinent to the subject matter of the trial.

For instance, if I were to lie about my age under oath, I could not be prosecuted for perjury, no matter how much the prosecutor wanted to, because no judge would rule that it was pertinent.

In a less clear-cut example, Clinton most certainly did lie about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, although whether that was perjury is unclear. I believe a slim majority of legal scholars will say that it was not perjury, because it was not pertinent to the matter at hand (extra points if you can remember what that was), although it is still a controversial argument.

What is clear is that perjury charges were never brought against Clinton, so perhaps it's fair to say that even the prosecutor had his doubts about whether he could make them stick.

Chris said...

Thanks for the info, Vikki. I thought that the investigation had to do with the whole Whitewater thing. I sunderstand it was expanded to investigate the Paula Jones sexual harassment accusation. Not having more info, nor a legal education, I won't opine about whether it's perjury or not. No doubt it was trivial in comparison to Libby's shit.

My point has more to do with holding people in power accountable and the seriousness of perjury. It seems like many are trying to de-emphasize how grave an offense perjury is, especially in the Libby case.

Johnny Yen said...

There's a major difference-- Clinton was not convicted of perjury, Libby was.

The Clinton thing was a legal travesty from the get-go. Don't forget that it began as an investigation of a real estate deal, the Whitewater affair. Of course, the Clintons lost money on it. Right there, the investigation should have been dropped-- generally in a fraud you make money. It was clear that Ken Starr had a political agenda and kept investigating irrelevent issues after it was clear that the Clintons had not committed a crime in the deal.

Chris said...

Johnny: I don't doubt that the Ken Starr-led investigation was political and perhaps unwarranted, but I don't think that justifies lying under oath.

I was just thinking re: Vikki's comment, I remember from my high school mock trial days there was an objection that could be made if a question was irrelevant. Do you know whether or not this objection was raised during the Lewinsky line of questioning? If Clinton answered the question, I'd assume either there was no objection or, if there was, it was overruled, thus making his answer pertinent in the judge's eyes. I don't mean to get into a pissing match or anything. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth seems pretty straight-forward to me.

Coaster Punchman said...

Let us not forget that, in the mind of Poor George at least, that entire episode in our nation's history should have taken place within the confines of "The Jenny Jones Show" and not in our nation's congressional halls or courts of law.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Chris, I agree that Clinton would have been better served if he had told the truth. But consider that 1) Clinton's lies served to cover that fact that he cheated on his wife, which was a purely personal matter. Libby's lies served to prevent the American people from finding out who in our government committed treason. Also, 2) Clinton was not, in my opinion, guilty of the crime of perjury. If there were a reasonable chance he could have been convicted of that, don't you think Ken Starr would've given it a shot? Very very very very few things were beneath that guy.

vikkitikkitavi said...

I should add that perjury was one of the charges brought against Clinton during his impeachment trial in the Senate, but he was acquitted on all charges.

When I said before that perjury charges were not brought against Clinton, I meant in a proper court of law.

Also, the issue of whether a person can be compelled to answer a question in a deposition, which is when Clinton was questioned about Lewinsky, and whether an untruthful answer given to that same question can be considered perjury, are very different things.

Quite an interesting debate, though, Chris. Good post.

Chris said...

Thanks Vikki. I've been hearing what sounds to me like a lot of hypocrisy out of the punditry (mainly on the right) and I wondered if there was a distinction. You'll get no argument from me that the Libby case is WAY more important than Clinton's stuff/Ken Starr's witch hunt. I still think it's imperative, if there's a court and an oath, that punishment be swift and strong for those that lie. This is based on nothing but my own opinion and doesn't take into account the actual law and its myriad technicalities.

Johnny Yen said...

I agree that punishment ought to be equal. And yes, Clinton should probably have owned up to that. He did what anybody else would do-- lie, rather than admit cheating on their spouse. To me, the issue lies in whether he should have had to answer the question, or rather, if the question should have been asked.

I wonder how much of his acquittal by the Senate was the fact that Senators were afraid to open a can of worms-- that if the personal lives of all politicians became fair game, it would be a sorry spectacle.

And of course, the beautiful irony of it all was the Rep. Ginrich, the main driver of the impeachment (the impeachment was in the House-- the Senate tried it) was himself having an extramarital affair. F*cking creep.

Check out the article on wikipedia about it (I linked it in a previous comment.) When it all happened, I was pretty wrapped up in my own personal drama (custody fight with ex-girlfriend/divorce from wife/finishing teacher school/severe financial problems) and there were some things that I hadn't realized at the time. One was that Clinton himself asked Janet Reno to appoint an independent investigator to look into the matter. Another that I'd known, but had forgotten was that Clinton was not convicted of anything, but was disbarred in Arkansas for five years because of it all.

One humorous thing: I remember having a drink with a friend at the time, and we decided that the whole affair needed a name ending in "-gate," like every political scandal since Watergate. We settled on "Blowjobgate."