Bill Clinton’s troubles started when he subjected a young woman in
Arkansas to crude sexual advances. The woman was a state employee by the
name of Paula Jones who, unlike so many others Clinton had treated in
this way, decided to sue. Clinton’s response was to deny his boorish
behavior, to defame his accuser and eventually to lie under oath in the
civil case that followed. This eventually led to a federal grand jury
and a Nixonian attempt to cover it all up, with obstruction of justice,
by tampering with witnesses.
None of this would have happened without prior conditions created by
Democrats and by one of their core constituents, radial feminists.
First, lines were blurred by feminist legal scholars between fumbled
and muddy affairs and boorish behavior on the one hand and serious
harassment on the other, creating a new area of litigation with
virtually no standards.
Thus Clinton’s crude advances, with no threats of reprisals and no
harm to the plaintiff, constituted grounds for litigation in the same
way as would the behavior of an employer who creates a hostile
environment for an employee, and who threatens reprisals if the employee
Also, Congress would not have looked into this matter had it not been
for the special counsel, an extra-constitutional office created by
Democrats in the wake of Watergate to harass Republican administrations.
With unlimited funds and a mandate to investigate the mounting evidence
of Clinton’s alleged wrongdoings, the special counsel pursued Clinton’s
perjury to the point of impeachment.
This put Democrats in the position of having to misrepresent the
Constitution and lie about the facts in order to defend the newly minted
presidential privilege of perjury and obstruction of justice in the
cause of sexual crudity. This obviously didn’t bother the Democrats in
the least as seen by their puritanical zeal in the House impeachment
debates, and by the ferocity and nastiness of their attacks on anyone
questioning this new privilege.
It also put House Republicans in a bind. The Constitution allows the
House of Representatives only impeachment for presidential misconduct,
nothing else. Either you impeach or you don’t.
Clinton’s defenders don’t dispute his misdeeds nor do they say they
were proper. The only question is whether the standards of impeachment
were to be lowered so far as to allow a man who has committed felonies
to stay in the highest office in the country with no consequences for
This obviously bothered many Republicans who, unlike their Democratic
colleagues, were concerned about the rule of law, the principle that no
man stands above the law, and the dignity of the office of president of
the United States.
Now the whole mess goes to the Senate for a trial where anything can
happen. Indeed there is only one precedent in history for such a trial,
and that was a hundred thirty years ago after a bloody civil war and in
the heat of a bitter dispute on how to deal with the defeated South,
quite a different context from today’s prosperity where the issue is the
commission of crimes to cover the sexual obsession, and the almost
pathological recklessness, of a baby boomer president.
Once this thing is over we should look again at what the feminists
and the Democrats have given us and decide if some changes should be
made. First, Congress should carefully evaluate the question of sexual
harassment, then clearly define what it is and how it should be
prosecuted. This they should do by establishing firm standards based on
the law and in accordance with justice to both the accuser and the
Secondly, Congress should end the office of special counsel. It is
the constitutional role of Congress to investigate and to oversee the
executive branch. Congress’ failure to do so, as bad as that might be,
is better than an extra-constitutional office with unlimited resources
at its disposal.
The real culprit in all this, however, is Bill Clinton whose flawed
character led him to the chain of events which has culminated in the
present national scandal and in our current international embarrassment.
This should alert the electorate that character does matter in public
life, especially for the president of the United States.
Glynn Custred is a professor of anthropology at California State
University, Hayward. He also co-authored California’ Proposition 209
banning racial preferences.