By most accounts, extraordinary secrecy surrounded President
Clinton’s closed-circuit television grand jury testimony from the
Map Room of the White House last Monday. Reporters were not
allowed inside. The television signal was scrambled for its trip
down to the federal courthouse. That same evening, a Lehrer News
Hour interviewer and a Washington Post newspaper editor discussed
what they represented as verbatim questions and responses from the
president’s testimony. No source was ever mentioned.
A few minutes later, ABC broadcast the president’s four-minute
address to the American public. Commentators gathered to tell us
what to think about it. Their verdict was universal on one point:
the president’s remarks were vastly different “than we had been led
Truth’s gatekeepers. Few of these men and women seem to grasp one
essential point: the man at the top sets the tone for his entire
organization. His Cabinet, questioned by reporters before the
testimony: “Oh, we believe him!” His tax-supported advisers,
handing out biscuits to the Fourth Estate’s shabby inheritors. It’s
the same tactic experienced burglars use on neighborhood guard
dogs: toss him a nice, tasty bone while you plunder his house.
None of the Fourth Estate’s finest seemed able to connect the mis-
represented speech with “quotes” from the president’s testimony.
What was the president being questioned for? Lying to the court in
the Paula Jones lawsuit, when he had sworn to tell the truth. The
lie worked. The court believed Mr. Clinton and dismissed Ms. Jones’
lawsuit. The official white lie — that denies the citizen justice.
It has worked, going back at least to the unknown soldier drafted
and sent to Vietnam in Mr. Clinton’s place, possibly never to
return. So much for ABC’s brilliant analysis and PBS’ anonymous
sources. Fact is, until C-SPAN broadcasts Mr. Clinton’s entire
videotaped testimony, every citizen has every reason to believe
that the president lied or dissembled in his testimony to the grand
jury, and that his advisors, who function as the crippled Fourth
Estate’s sources, are lying about every word of testimony they toss
from the table.
Just prior to Mr. Clinton’s testimony, the London Telegraph
… the White House’s orchestration of events was being
hindered by Mr. Clinton’s apparent inability to make up
his mind about how to explain what seems to be reckless
and crass behavior with Miss Lewinsky. She claims more
than a dozen “active oral sex” encounters with him in a
study next to the Oval Office. New details emerged last
night of 75 phone calls made to her by the President,
some said to be of a sexual nature.
Mr. Clinton made it clear in his speech that those encounters were
none of our business. They are, he assured us, a matter between
him, his family, and his God.
I don’t venture to speak for God, but I do have a question for the
Southern Baptist Convention: What, exactly, does it take for your
leadership to renounce the behavior of a public servant who claims
to be in your fold, while he defames the name of your Lord? Does
sodomizing a contributor’s daughter a dozen times in the Oval
Office, then buying her silence with a taxpayer-supported job
qualify? If not, then what, exactly, would it take?
As for Mrs. Clinton, one suspects that she long ago made her
Faustian bargain with Bill. Still, the Secret Service might want to
discretely check the residence from time to time, just to ensure
compliance with D.C.’s strict “gun-free” policy. Better safe than
sorry. Beyond that, I agree: how they patch it up this time is
their own business.
Still, through it all, the president has his moral defenders.
Foremost is Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), a member of the House
Judiciary Committee, who said on ABC that the president had
suffered enough at the hands of Ken Starr and that it was time to
put this thing behind him. Remarkably consistent advice, from
somewhat of an expert. Representative Frank, you may recall,
managed to put behind himself ethics charges that his “companion”
ran a homosexual prostitution ring out of Barney’s Capitol Hill
condominium basement. Barney was oh, so sorry … but the comings
and goings in his basement had escaped his attention.
But then the Democrats controlled Congress.