The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


London – the year was 1535.  Sir Thomas More, a lawyer and formerly Chancellor of England was incarcerated in The Tower, accused of high treason for his refusal to sign “The Act of Succession” which had been passed into law by the Parliament.

Despite More’s reliance on the  law’s provision, “qui tacit consentire” that “silence gives consent” and that his silence on the subject should be construed as an affirmation of the act as it had been passed, More’s silence was generally construed by the public as meaning that he opposed the provisions of the law.  Because More was held in such high esteem this presented a political problem for his liege lord, Henry VIII who had done everything in his power to get More to acquiesce.  More would not, however, abandon either his position or his principles.

Finally, Henry tasked More’s daughter, Meg to try to convince him to take the oath and sign.  After trying every logical argument with her father, all of which he countered with his own, she finally said, “Father.  Take the oath and in your heart think differently.  God will know what you really believe.”

A dismayed More replies, “Oh,Meg, what is an oath but words we say to God?”

More continued his silence and refusal to sign the act, was tried and convicted through the use of perjured testimony and was executed.

Washington, D. C. – 1998.  The House of Representatives votes to impeach William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States on two counts – “Obstruction of Justice” and “Perjury.”  Two months later the Senate acquitted the president on both charges with not one senator of the president’s party voting for conviction thus assuring that the vote would fall far short of the two thirds majority needed.

During the trial, President Clinton was asked about his sexual relations with women in the oval office, specifically Monica Lewinsky.  “”Did he have sex with her in the Oval Office?”  To this, Clinton said haltingly, “I did not have sex with that woman.”  That statement was later proven to be a lie and although he was not convicted by the Senate, he was stripped of his law license and ordered to pay a fine.

While we don’t know the finale to the “Clinton story,” we do know that the former President’s popularity is high among American voters, he commands half a million dollars for giving an hour’s speech and is one of the driving forces behind the Clinton Foundation which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars.

The contrast between these two lawyers is monumental.  Sir Thomas’ reputation was spotless.  He was revered by the general populace as a man who was both honest and fair, a man of integrity.  He is today perhaps most remembered for his book, “Utopia,” best translated as “No Place Land.”

In the book, More theorizes a society set in the New World – a communist society in which  there is no unemployment because everyone is required to work.  Meals are eaten communally and the population is regulated as to the number of people who live in a particular neighborhood so that if there is an excess in one locale, some of those citizens are relocated to a less populated area.

There is general equality between men and women although only widowed women may become priests in one of the accepted four religions.  Only atheism is not taken as a valid view, the basis being that if one has no fear of repercussions in an after life then that person has no reason to try to conform to the laws that the society has enacted.  Atheists are tolerated but are subject to vigorous persuasion by the priests of the society to “set them straight.”  Medical treatment is, of course, free and available to all citizens.  And lawbreakers are shackled with gold chains, to remind the society of the unimportance of wealth and money.

In contrast to More’s reputation, former President Clinton’s career and person have been mired in controversy and allegations of questionable behavior dating back to the time that he was Governor of Arkansas.  Many of those relate to his extramarital sexual activities although I believe that relates more to a matter of morality than to an ability to govern.  But the matter of his libido was one of the focuses of his impeachment.

What disturbs me about the former president is his response.  Frankly, while I do not condone his behavior – that is not within my purview – I would have respected him if, rather than falsely denying his tryst in the Oval Office, thus perjuring himself, he had said, “Hey, I have a very high sex drive and took advantage of an opportunity that presented itself.  Now what’s your point?  And if you don’t have one, let’s move on.”   I’ve generally found that the truth, as painful as it may be to admit is usually a person’s best defense.  We all make mistakes and most people can forgive someone who is honest about admitting to one.

Despite More’s reputation, he was, as Chancellor of England, responsible in an almost ISIS-like way for the persecution of Protestants in England.  That certainly puts some tarnish on More’s reputation.  As a devout Roman Catholic, I doubt that he would be apologetic for his actions, as reprehensible as we might view them today.

And I doubt that former President Clinton would apologize for his past sexual adventures as new information now surfaces that one of his close associates, the wealthy Jeffrey Epstein, a registered sex offender, convicted of soliciting prostitution from a 14 year old girl frequently entertained Clinton and other prominent people on his private Caribbean island, Little St. James, nicknamed “Orgy Island.”  Epstein has been a cash contributor to the Clinton Foundation, although he might have offered more to the former president in kind rather than dollars.

Without much surprise, the controversies which have swirled around the former president have adhered to his wife now that she is officially a candidate to hold her husband’s former position.  And the pending release of a book about how Bill and Hillary (also a lawyer) have conducted their financial affairs have brought the old controversies back to the public’s attention and have gone from a simmer to the boiling point.

Despite the Clintons’ efforts to divert attention from the issues by labeling them as “right wing conspiracies,” such publications as “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” have joined the fray and brought out revelations about their and their foundation’s financial affairs which are causing the foundation to re-file at least five years worth of federal tax returns.  Neither of those publications could be accused of being conservative voices.

Hillary Clinton’s camp has pushed back strongly about the allegations that are being raised, specifically that there was a “quid pro quo” for donations made to the Clinton Foundation by both individuals and foreign governments and various accords that were reached that benefited them personally while Ms. Clinton was Secretary of State.  And it would be fair to say that at this point no smoking gun, no specific email can be produced to substantiate the claims that have been raised.  Perhaps that is a function of Ms. Clinton’s destruction of 30,000 emails that she deemed “personal.”  We will probably never know unless we can tap into the records of the NSA – assuming that they archived those.

But one thing is clear.  As in More’s time, if a person does not have an expectation of punishment for lying under oath either in this or a future life, then there would be little reason not to try to obfuscate the facts and put on one’s best game face using a strategy of total denial.  And while it might be impossible to provide the sufficiency of evidence that “influence peddling” took place during the time Ms. Clinton was Secretary of State to obtain a guilty court verdict, it should be a call to the American voter to question the qualifications of a person who may herself be implicated in this scandal and who is married to a man who clearly broke the law – a law which he had sworn to uphold.

We’ll see if anyone is paying attention – or more importantly, cares.

Comments on: "A TALE OF THREE LAWYERS" (10)

  1. I’m afraid that most that are paying attention are those of us that wouldn’t vote for either of them in a 1000 years, still we’ll see. It speaks to me of a bankruptcy of the party that they have to recycle her yet again, not that she’s unwilling, mind but, I just don’t see what’s in it for her.

    • Personally, I think it’s a way she can compensate for years of living as an abused spouse. But that’s just a personal opinion.

      • You may well have a point there, I never thought of it. But she surely has been that.

      • In a biography of Gracie Allen, she mentioned that husband George Burns had one time strayed from their vows and dallied with another woman. She forgave him – and got a fur coat out of the situation. That event was not well publicized by either Gracie or George – understandably.

        It must be difficult to know that your spouse is a serial philanderer. But consider the additional ignominy that must come from the fact that not only do you know it – the whole world is vicariously participating in his exploits.

        If Hillary Clinton is going to run on a platform of ending the “war on women” she might do well to start in Chappaqua, NY at their palatial home.

  2. I was sampling the “politics” tag in WordPress’s reader a couple weeks ago, and spotted <a href=";)this article by a 72-year-old rest home resident in Chicago.

    In it, he started off with:

    “Rand Paul is running for president. He is a better candidate than Ted Cruz, but only minutely so. On the Democratic side, it seems almost sure that it will be Hilary Clinton, e-mail snafu or no. I’m not a knee-jerk supporter of hers. My first concern is her age. She’s 68….”

    And he ended with:

    “I am obviously going to have to do more research on Ms. Clinton.”

    I posted the following comment, which didn’t survive his discerning scrutiny, so the public will never see it there — only here:

    “You said your first concern about Hillary was her age. My first concern is about her ethics and integrity. My second concern is why her ethics and integrity aren’t your first concern.”

    My hunch is that blogger, a Mr. Silvermaul, will find a way to concoct a rationale in his liberal mind that makes him happy to vote for her. If you glance at the rest of his short article, you’ll see that he offhandedly acknowledges that she has some enemies (with no mention of why), but he’s concerned primarily with her age and her “vision for America’s future.” He expressed no expectation of honesty or integrity from his President.

    – Jeff

  3. As a person who lived in Illinois’ 13th Senate District for 36 years, the one that launched Barack Obama into his political career (over my objection), I think you judge Mr. Silvermaul a bit harshly, Jeff. That he has any qualms at all about a candidate with a (D) after his/her name suggests a refreshing sense of open-mindedness. It also suggests that during his working career he never received a paycheck from the City of Chicago.

    Before leaving Chicago for Las Vegas, I also found myself in Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District – last ably represented by the Rev. Mr. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s son, who was just released early from prison for misappropriating political contributions for personal rather than campaign use. While Rep. Jackson was under scrutiny and the results of his trial were fairly obvious to predict, he was re-elected to the House for another term. We are very forgiving people in the 2nd District.

    Mr. Jackson, of course, succeeded Rep. Mel Reynolds, a promising and very bright young man who was sentenced to prison for having sex with an underage girl. Well, maybe he wasn’t all that bright.

    But the good news is that Mr. Reynolds is rehabilitated and has secured a new position, interestingly with former Congressman Jackson’s father in his Rainbow Coalition enterprise. Mr. Reynolds has been placed in charge of “Youth Development” for the coalition. You know, you just can’t make this stuff up.

    Integrity and honesty unfortunately do not appear to be qualifications for high public office as the past six years have admirably demonstrated. Nor is regard for the Constitution. Perhaps the best we may hope for from Mr. Silvermaul and other likeminded souls is that they decide to stay home on Election Day next year.

  4. You are a keen student of history and comparing history with our present day we find that in principle things don’t change because human nature is naturally defaulted that way. It takes a Higher Power to modify natural inclinations.

  5. To take a quote from the movie about More’s Life, “A Man For All Seasons,” he says, “If we lived in a world where goodness and virtue were rewarded, common sense would make us all saints.” That clearly is not our world, with rare exception.

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