I hate to bring a bit of realism to this discussion, but since when
did you become privy to Clinton's discussion with his attorneys?
Yes, Clinton misled the audience in his deposition. I'd call that a lie.
Some people might call that perjury, but that is a legal term which means
more than just lying. From Encylopaedia Brittanica on-line:
willful, knowing, and corrupt giving under oath of false testimony
regarded as material to the issue or point of inquiry. All elements of
the crime are essential for conviction. Criminal intent is required; a
person who makes a false statement and then later corrects himself
has not committed perjury. The testimony must be material to the
issue of inquiry, since perjury on a point not material can be no more
than a misdemeanour and may not be punished at all.
The giving of false testimony under oath distinguishes perjury from
criminal contempt. The latter is an obstruction of the administration
of justice, usually in violation of an order of the court. Some perjuries
that have the effect of obstructing the adjudication of a case may be
given increased punishment for that reason. Generally, however,
punishment is directed less against the effect of the perjury than
against the disregard of the oath itself. Thus, a man who perjures
himself numerous times during the adjudication of one case may be
convicted of only a single perjury, though his punishment may be
One who knows of another's perjury and does not make his
information known to authorities may be convicted of a separate
offense of subornation of perjury. This offense covers anyone who is
implicated in the perjury.
The fact that the Judge allowed the question does not automatically
make it material to the issue of inquiry. The same Judge, or any superior
Judge, could override that decision and the testimony would no longer
be perjury. Hell, the whole question of whether a sitting President can
be compelled to give testimony in a civil litigation case is an open
The notion that all perjury is the same, or that one perjury will
automatically lead to other perjuries, is just nonsense. If you ask a
politician a question, the politician is expected to answer. A public
person does not have many of the same "rights to privacy" that people
who have not pursued the public eye are given by both the press and
the courts. In return, politicians are *usually* given more leniency
in terms of what they are asked and how they answer, particularly when
they answer according to their view of political realism rather than
the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
If Clinton had lied about something that had any relevance to his
running of the executive branch, then I'd want to see him resign.
He has often been accused of "a pattern of lies", but on the other
hand no other President has been subjected to anything like this
pattern of questions. For a guy with a "habit" of lying, how is it
that he has never been caught lying about anything but extramarital sex?
The reason is because he doesn't apply the same set of ethics to his
behavior as President and his behavior in private.
Both Bush and Reagan lied, under oath, and neither was asked
to resign, let alone brought up on impeachment proceedings. The fact
is that the only reason impeachment is even being considered is because
we are a couple months from a congressional election and just two
years from the next Presidential election, and the opposing party has
control over just how long and how public such proceedings will be.
Other than that, the coverage is just titillation and embarrassment,
on both a personal and national scale.
If placed in the same position, I would have refused to answer the
question and forced the Judge to either throw it out or bring a charge
of contempt that, btw, would have been put on hold until the end of
the term. I wouldn't give any testimony regarding a woman who, at the
time of my testimony, was denying that any such affair existed. I wouldn't
care what the opinion of the Judge might be, though I'm sure my ethical
reasons for that stand are quite alien to those of Bill Clinton.
Of course, for similar reasons, I'd never put myself in that position.
Thus it is hard for me to analyze what was going through the President's
mind or that of his attorneys when he decided to answer "No". The only
thing I am sure about is that anyone defending Starr's reputation or
responsibility for doing an upright and independent job as a special
investigator is decidedly full of shit.