Sauce for the Goose? 

Sauce for the Goose?

As the saying goes, if the story came out of Hollywood, even the most credulous movie-goer would reject it.

A Democratic President is impeached. The only actual charge against him is "lying under oath." Not perjury--that would require lying about the facts of the main case at issue--which was Paula Jones. Clinton lied about a different, arguably related case (since it corroborated the idea that Clinton sought casual sex with strangers): Monica.

A few years later, a senior official in a Republican administration faces five charges--two of perjury, and three others related to the same lies. Republicans--including, apparently, David Brooks, line up to say: no big deal, nothing to see here, move along move along. The subtle, lawyerly-sounding point is: there is no evidence yet of an underlying crime. In other words, we don't know why Scooter lied--we don't know that he was covering up something worse.

Underlying crime? No one even suggested Clinton had committed an underlying crime. (Although, in order to hint at such a thing, Republicans circulated a story of an alleged rape, never subject to any criminal proceeding). They literally impeached him for lying under oath about consensual sex. "It's not the sex," they would say. "We're not crazy prudes--it's the lying under oath. That subverts the law."

So if Bill and Hillary had been in the habit of having sex in the Oval Office, and Bill had lied under oath about that, they would have impeached him for that? I don't think so.

Everyone in the U.S. who testifies under oath, it seems, is inclined to say "I don't recall" at least once. Who can prove you recall, if you say you don't? In fact, this is apparently going to be the basis of Scooter's defence.

Out of all the times people say "I don't recall" under oath--including the Republicans who testified about Iran-Contra--how many are lies? 90%? Clinton said a lot of "I don't recalls," and then, perhaps out of vanity, told a lie. For this they impeached him? I've thought for a long time that no serious person should have spent five minutes on Monica--which made the careers of Ann Coulter, Jonah Goldberg, and others. And now Republicans want (apparently) more serious charges to go away.

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