The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Bill Clinton’

A TALE OF THREE LAWYERS

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.

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BILL CLINTON SPEAKS

As the second most elder statesman of the Democratic Party (Jimmy Carter holding the place of honor at the top), former President Bill Clinton has made an ad for President Obama.  I suspect that you might have seen it as it has been aired a great deal.

I will say that the ad is a substantial improvement over other ads of the Obama campaign.  There is no mention of Bain Capital (which Clinton told Obama to leave alone), no mention of Mitt Romney causing people’s death by denying them health insurance benefits, just a generally positive and, on the surface reasoned ad why the former President feels we should entrust our vote to giving the incumbent another four years in the White House.  At least that’s how it starts out.

The ad begins with Clinton saying, “To me this election about who is most likely to get us back to full employment.”  My ears perked up the first time I heard this opening line.  Had Clinton gone over to the Romney camp?

Well, that’s about as much as the former President has to say about why he supports an Obama second term until the end where he talks about “Obama’s plan – rebuilding America from the ground up and investing in education and innovation.”  For some reason, when I heard that line an image of Nuremberg, Germany after the British bombing came to mind.  In order to build it “from the ground up” you have first to destroy what is already there.

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President Obama is well on his way to accomplishing the destructive part during his first term in office.  Perhaps President Clinton has more faith in his “plan”  to accomplish the second part if given another four years than the evidence would suggest.

The body of the ad contains an assertion that attacks, although more subtly than other Obama ads, Gov. Romney’s “plan” to ease the tax burden on the wealthy than is now the case and to do so at the expense of the middle class.  Of course, that statement is simply untruthful.

Governor Romney’s plan is merely to leave tax rates unchanged for ALL taxpayers.  Those rates, commonly known as the Bush tax cuts, have been extended several times by both Democrat and Republican majorities in Congress and signed into law.

The truth is that President Obama’s tax plan is merely to increase taxes on our wealthiest tax payers without any consequent reduction in taxes on the middle class or anyone else.  And as everyone knows, this is a great campaign point but it serves to accomplish nothing in terms of actually balancing the Federal budget.

If you were to confiscate 100% of the income of the wealthiest tax payers representing the top 10% of all personal income reported, it would be insufficient to balance the budget.  And even Obama hasn’t come up with that proposal – yet.

Additional tax revenues would help balance the budget.  A growing, rather than the stagnant Obomaconomy which we have had delivered to us by the man in the White House would naturally increase the amount of revenue the Federal government received – whatever the rate at which it would be taxed.

But at the same time, we have to make cuts to the money that we spend – deep cuts – in order to get back to a place of fiscal order and responsibility.  It amazes me that with every economist from the far left to the far right in agreement on this point, it seems to escape President Obama’s attention and the attention of Democrat legislators in general.

Sadly, government has a very bad habit.  No matter how much money it receives it finds a way to spend more.  That can work for awhile, but eventually you run out of people who are willing to lend you money.  Check out modern Greece for an example from current events.

I do appreciate the fact that this ad is, as I have said, more subtle in its attack approach than the previous efforts from team Obama.  The President has apparently come to the realization that as Dinesh D’Souza points out in his movie, “2016, Obama’s America,” that the greatest asset he has is that he is likeable and that people want to help him.

I’d like to help him too – by allowing him to find a new job for which he is better qualified.  The removal of his meandering and indecisive policies would be the biggest shot in the arm that America could receive.

CLINTON VERSUS OBAMA (PART II)

If you remember President Clinton’s Impeachment Trial, at one point the former President hesitated answering a question put to him by a senator.  After thinking about his response he finally said, “Well, it depends on how you define the word ‘is’.”

This is a man who understands that when a person is in the public limelight, it is best to be careful what you say.  The most innocent remark can and often will be taken out of context and manipulated to support the listener’s agenda.

On Wednesday I offered a thought about the reason for the apparent break from President Obama’s stated views on extending the Bush tax cuts past the first of the year.  The following excerpt from Yahoo News comes from an interview that the former President had with Wolf Blitzer the day following my post:

“Former President Bill Clinton apologized on Thursday for making comments this week that appeared to be at odds with President Barack Obama’s position on extending the Bush tax cuts…”

“Clinton, who campaigned for his wife, Hillary, when she was competing against Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary battle, defended himself when Blitzer brought up the fact that Clinton’s critics are charging that he’s undermining Obama’s re-election effort with his comments.”

If you missed my earlier post, I suggested two possible outcomes for the election in November and reprint them below:

“In a tight election anything can happen and most likely will.”

“Here are two possible outcomes.”

“1) Obama wins re-election. We continue down the same path which we have seen for three and one half years or speed down it at an even faster pace. The country and economy continue to flounder. We are now at the election of 2016 and the country has woken up to the fact that Obama’s (the Democratic Party’s) way of doing things has been a dismal failure. No matter how appealing the Democratic candidate might be in 2016, his or her election is impossible.”

“2) Romney defeats Obama in November. He provides competent though uninspiring leadership. Things get better – but President Romney never captures the hearts of the American electorate. He is vulnerable in his re-election bid. Enter Hillary Clinton as the nominee of Democrats in that election, a woman with certain credentials to her name – most recently as Secretary of State – a position in which she has earned both a title and a certain amount of obscurity.”

President Clinton’s retraction of his apparent variance with the Obama administration carries about the same weight as an apology to the widow of a man who was accidentally shot dead by one of his neighbors.  The deed is done and no amount of apologies are going to change the facts.

Personally, I think that former President Clinton and the missus are hoping for scenario two.

CLINTON VERSUS OBAMA

By way of full disclosure let me say that I have voted in every primary and general election since I was twenty-one and eligible to do so.  Despite the fact that I identify more with the stated ideals of one of the two major parties than the other, I have never voted a straight ticket in any of those general election contests.

Both parties have their share of hacks and heroes – and I have always tried to find the best candidate for each office irrespective of whether their name on the ballot had a (D) or (R) by it.  I realize that puts me in the minority of voters.  Now that I think about that, I wonder if that entitles me to some kind of government subsidy.  I’ll have to check that out.

I will never forget doing precinct work, going door to door and speaking with registered voters about their choice for governor in a contest in which then Illinois Gov. Ogilvie was trying to get re-elected versus a populist Democratic candidate, Dan Walker.

I had a voter list of the precinct I was canvassing and knew who were the registered Republicans and Democrats and those who had declared no party affiliation.  My goal was to speak to every one of these voters and get an indication of whom they supported in this race.  Then on election day, to make sure that the Governor’s supporters got out and voted.

I knocked on one man’s door – a registered Democrat – and as I was wearing my Ogilvie button he knew why I was there and wanted to speak with him.  But he was surprisingly receptive and cordial to my interrupting his prime time television viewing.

After a few minutes in which I talked about the things that the governor had done for Illinois I asked him if we could count on his support.  Much to my surprise, the accomplishments I had listed were dwarfed by this man’s praise for the governor and his enumeration of other things that he thought the governor had achieved.

So I said, “Well, sir that’s great.  Then can we count on your vote on election day?”

He said, “No, I have to vote for Walker – even though I think he’s a jerk.  I’m a Democrat and I work for the city.”

I mention this experience for one reason.  So many of us cling to a political sense of partisanship that goes beyond reasonable expectation.  And this is even more true of those politicians who are members of that party.  They will defend to the death the most outrageous and egregious behavior of other members of their party rather than betray their allegiance.  And with that as background, we now come to the subject of this post.

In the last week former President Clinton has twice made statements that conflict with the stated goals and policies of President Obama.  The latest of these was his endorsement of extending the Bush tax cuts – an idea which the current president opposes.

Why this break in Democratic party solidarity?  Certainly, President Clinton knows better.  So is there something else behind this?  I would like to suggest a possible scenario.

We all know that the November, 2012 election is going to be a close one.  In large measure the outcome will depend on how the economy improves or fails to do so.  So what could make the difference in who gets the votes necessary to administer the country for the next four years?

One of the claims coming out of the negative campaign which President Obama is conducting is that things were Utopian under Clinton (a Democrat), got bad under Bush (a Republican) all of which he inherited and that his opponent Mitt Romney (a Republican) was an evil doer as Governor of Massachusetts and as a private businessman following the Bush rather than the Clinton tradition.

Now if former President Clinton (the standard bearer for truth, virtue and prosperity) breaks with President Obama – doesn’t that cast a shadow of doubt for those who can see that the economy simply is not recovering despite government bailouts, massive Federal Reserve intervention and Congressional stimulus plans all endrosed by Obama?

Now into this fray enters Obama’s opponent, Governor Romney.  He has a record both in the public and private sector – of which you might either approve or disapprove.  He has standards which you might or might not share.  And given the tepid reception that he has received even within the Republican party, it would be fair to say that voters view him as uninspiring.  Governor Romney doesn’t have the same media appeal that President Regan or even President Obama have.

So here’s my thought.  In a tight election anything can happen and most likely will.

Here are two possible outcomes.

1)  Obama wins re-election.  We continue down the same path which we have seen for three and one half years or speed down it at an even faster pace.  The country and economy continue to flounder.  We are now at the election of 2016 and the country has woken up to the fact that Obama’s (the Democratic Party’s) way of doing things has been a dismal failure.  No matter how appealing the Democratic candidate might be in 2016, his or her election is impossible.

2)  Romney defeats Obama in November.  He provides competent though uninspiring leadership.  Things get  better – but President Romney never captures the hearts of the American electorate.  He is vulnerable in his re-election bid.  Enter Hillary Clinton as the nominee of Democrats in that election, a woman with certain credentials to her name – most recently as Secretary of State – a position in which she has earned both a title and a certain amount of obscurity.

It is seldom that I can speak honestly of our politicians having a long-term view of things.  But if there is one, it is in how they regard their own futures.  On that topic they are supremely prescient.

Could the reason for former President Clinton’s break with his party’s nominee, the sitting President have anything to do with his wife’s political aspirations?

It’s something to consider.

As a footnote, in the election for Illinois Governor, Dan Walker defeated incumbent Governor Ogilvie by a very narrow margin.  He served only one term as the people of Illinois saw the economic disaster he wreaked on the State in those four years.

After leaving office he was indicted and convicted of bank fraud and served a prison term.

Partisan politics exacts a very expensive toll on each of us.  The people of Illinois came to realize that.  The question at issue this November is will the voters throughout our country have the wisdom to learn from their experience?

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