A Time for Sadness As the Ken Starr Report (Referral) is debated in the press and Congress I am concerned about a number of things that are not being discussed or highlighted. Much of the discussion deals with the inclusion of the nature of the sexual relationship between the President and Ms. Lewinsky. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has described it as a "cheap nickel and dime novel." The President's lawyers and defenders continue to describe this as an attack on the President's personal life, or say "it's all about sex."
A Time for Sadness
As the Ken Starr Report (Referral) is debated in the press and Congress I am concerned about a number of things that are not being discussed or highlighted. Much of the discussion deals with the inclusion of the nature of the sexual relationship between the President and Ms. Lewinsky. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has described it as a "cheap nickel and dime novel." The President's lawyers and defenders continue to describe this as an attack on the President's personal life, or say "it's all about sex."
I have heard no one else say this, and I mentioned this first on "Lago in the Morning" (Radio -- KEYS-AM 5:30AM-9:00AM in Corpus Christi) "If Clinton's problems are about sex, then Nixon was run out of office because he knew a few penny-ante burglars." Take the specific sexual acts out of this report and you still have a presidency that is engaged in serious wrongdoing.
Accordingly I ask why it is that only once or twice have I heard anyone mention that this is NOT necessarily the final act of Judge Starr's investigation. If we look at what the Starr Referral says itself, we discover that further action is hinted at:
"From the outset, it was our strong desire to complete all phases of the investigation before deciding whether to submit to Congress information -- if any -- that may constitute grounds for an impeachment. But events and the statutory command of Section 595(c) have dictated otherwise. As the investigation into the President's actions with respect to Ms. Lewinsky and the Jones litigation progressed, it became apparent that there was a significant body of substantial and credible information that met the Section 595(c) threshold. As that phase of the investigation neared completion, it also became apparent that a delay of this Referral until the evidence from all phases of the investigation had been evaluated would be unwise. Although Section 595(c) does not specify when information must be submitted, its text strongly suggests that information of this type belongs in the hands of Congress as soon as the Independent Counsel determines that the information is reliable and substantially complete.
All phases of the investigation are now nearing completion. This Office will soon make final decisions about what steps to take, if any, with respect to the other information it has gathered. Those decisions will be made at the earliest practical time, consistent with our statutory and ethical obligations."
I realize that my analysis may be simplistic, but it looks to me like what the Referral says is that there is more coming, but this is the quickest and simplest picture of events that the President has been involved in that constitute impeachable offenses. If there are impeachable offenses arising from the other issues that Judge Starr's office has been investigating, I would guess that the legal case involving them may be convoluted enough or so devastating that Judge Starr felt that releasing this Referral might prevent the need for a long drawn out impeachment proceeding, or one that was so devastating that the American people would be shaken to the core.
Let's face it, in spite of all that Al Capone was alleged to have done, he was finally convicted on income tax evasion. Given all the allegations about the President, are his "real" crimes so vast that releasing them would create such an outroar that the whole American system might come toppling down? Is the other evidence collected by Judge Starr for the 3.5 years prior to the Lewinsky part of the investigation going to be deposited with the three judge panel going to be held until needed in the impeachment process in order to prevent the whole truth from coming out for fear of what the truth might reveal? I don't know, but I don't believe that Judge Starr has released all he knows yet, I expect indictments to start creating more unease in the White House, and I expect a final sealed report to be sent to the three judge panel that will only be released if necessary.
Many have discussed the question of whether or not this relationship is part of the President's personal life that is therefore beyond the realm of discussion, so I will not dwell on that. I will just state something that I am not hearing stated from many others: Sex in the workplace is not personal. It is a crime. Justice Thomas was pilloried for unsubstantiated remarks from one woman about events that may have occurred ten years prior to his hearings. If I remember correctly, he was not even accused of actual physical contact. Ms. Lewinsky's allegations have many substantiating bits of evidence, including the president's own words, yet the press in large part is attacking Judge Starr. Something is wrong here.
Many people on both sides are citing the phrase "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors" when discussing whether or not Mr. Clinton's actions are impeachable. The question has been whether or not perjury and/or obstruction of justice falls under the definition of 'high crimes or misdemeanors." While I believe they both do, let's take note that the investigation began over the question of a job offer in exchange for silence. Judge Starr noted that the offer to Ms. Lewinsky was much like the Webster Hubbell case and the investigation was expanded to include the Lewinsky matter because of that. That, if it is true, should destroy the argument that Mr. Clinton's "mistakes" do not constitute an impeachable offense. A job offer in exchange for silence certainly seems to fit with most definitions of bribery. Perhaps the founding fathers originally meant to discuss bribery in light of the President being on the receiving end instead of the offering end, but the alleged crime has gone beyond obstruction of justice into actual bribery.
Many are opposed to this whole discussion because "the president is doing a good job" and "this doesn't affect his job performance." While the question of how good a job he is doing is debatable, when the Referral is read, we see that the President spent an enormous amount of time dealing with Ms. Lewinsky. He sent out aides to deal with such situations, his secretary spent a lot of time, his time was taken up with her and he had to deal with her frustration when she couldn't see him. This has affected his job performance, perhaps in subtle ways, but the effect is there. How many people waited a few extra minutes, or longer, because the President was dealing with Ms. Lewinsky? How much government time was spent trying to help her find the job in the White House that she wanted, get the UN job offer, or one in the private sector? How did possible threats of exposure affect dealings with staff and/or domestic or foreign problems? We don't know for sure, but we are now seeing that the result of what he has done has ended up consuming time and effort of many in the federal government.
There are other concerns that I have about this Referral, but most of those concerns are receiving an adequate hearing. I am asking for your response to my concerns, especially if I am way off base for having them. Perhaps one of my favorite sayings applies here, although I sincerely hope that I am overstating my case: "It is not that I am paranoid; it is that you are not paranoid enough."