No trust in Clinton, no presidency
By Sumit De
George Washington cut down a cherry tree but could not tell a lie, so he
confessed to his mother. Bill Clinton, LAW '73, carried on an extramarital
affair in the White House for the better part of 18 months. He could not tell
the truth, so he lied to his wife, daughter, Cabinet, and the American public.
Neither episode has a lot to do with Washington or Clinton's true ability to
govern. Both stories say a lot about the actual men.
And that is what is really at issue here: Clinton the man. In order to make a
reasonable judgment about a person, one usually takes into account ideas,
actions, and personal relations. Most people who are defending our President
argue that his ideas are genuinely good, and that the legislation he has pushed
has benefited the country. Unfortunately, they also completely dismiss his
personal encounters as irrelevant.
The fact is, Clinton was given the power that comes along with the Office of
the Presidency because the American public judged him to be a credible leader.
Clinton the man--not Clinton the President--was chosen because enough people
thought he was a good guy, a guy who could be trusted with the welfare of the
It is fair to say now that even Clinton's supporters have lost their trust in
him. Many people are clinging to the notion that he can still lead competently
because of his past actions as President. What they fail to realize, however,
is that those actions were possible only because he had the trust of so many.
His word to his opponents, for better or for worse, had the backing of the
American people. But the judgment on Clinton the man has changed; it seems only
reasonable that his relationship with the American people should change as
well. He should resign.
Opponents to this type of thinking say that Clinton technically did nothing
wrong. This is a preposterous notion. Clinton lied to the American public for
seven months about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. After the publication
of the Starr report, a plethora of polls indicate that the American public
believes that Clinton lied under oath. Lying under oath--no matter who you
are--is a federal offense. Supposedly, we are to believe that Clinton is immune
to this since he only lied to a grand jury that was out to get him. By making
this argument the centerpiece of their rebuttal, Clinton's lawyers are implying
that the very due process that Clinton was supposed to protect and embody is
flawed. I'm sorry, but I'll take the Constitution over Clinton any day.
Even more important than the technicalities of the law that Clinton broke is
the covenant he broke with the American public. When we put Clinton in the
White House, we trusted him to behave in a certain way--especially while in
office. Whether it is fair or not, presidents in this day and age are supposed
to be on the job 24 hours a day. They are supposed to show reverence towards
those institutions that symbolize the greatness of American democracy and
government, such as the Oval Office. Starr's report proves that Clinton doesn't
have a lot of respect for that room. The report also shows (in lurid detail
that most of us probably should have been protected from) that Clinton has no
respect for the other rooms of the White House (especially the President's
private study). At best, he misconstrued what "private" meant; at worst, he was
a selfish cretin who recognized where and what he was and did it anyway.
Clinton looked us in the eye and told us that he did not have any sexual
relations with Lewinsky. He told his wife and daughter that lie as well. In
trying to protect his position, he embarrassed not only himself and the nation,
but also those people in his private life who love him.
If someone lies to me, my opinion of that person falls. I lose my trust in
him, and I try to avoid him as much as possible. That's all I want to do with
Bill Clinton, and I have a hunch most people want the same.
Sumit De is a senior in Saybrook.
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