Clinton protects and serves

Posted: Sep 06, 2000 12:00 AM
In the disbarment proceeding of William Jefferson Clinton, his lawyers have argued that taking away Clinton's law license would be "excessively harsh, impermissibly punitive and unprecedented." More amusingly, they also claim that he engaged in the conduct prompting the disbarment proceeding merely out of "a desire to protect himself and others from embarrassment."

Let's take that last one first -- Clinton was trying to "protect himself (BEGIN OTHERS)and others."

Forget how Clinton treacherously sucked his secretary Betty Currie into the eye of his obstruction hurricane -- to save himself. Forget how he slandered the various Jane Does, including longtime girlfriend Gennifer Flowers, ingenuous Paula Jones and besotted White House volunteer Kathleen Willey -- to save himself. Forget how he used his own daughter as a prop no different from the 5-pound Bible he carries during his Sunday walk-to-church photo ops -- to save himself.

Consider only this: While Clinton's sex toy, one Monica Lewinsky, was lunging toward imprisonment to protect him, he was hard at work smearing her as a sex-crazed stalker. He had suggested as much to Betty Currie, as well as to his hatchet man, Sidney Blumenthal -- causing both of these blindly loyal lieutenants no end of legal trouble themselves.

Sid Vicious was putting the word out to seemingly sympathetic journalists, and some of the more obedient members of the watchdog press already had begun to repeat the slander on the cable TV shows. Eventually, former Blumenthal friends Christopher Hitchens and Carol Blue signed affidavits attesting to Blumenthal's claims that Clinton himself had suggested that Monica was a stalker.

Clinton used Monica like a Kleenex, encouraging her to perform oral sex on him while he chatted with congressmen about Bosnia, not knowing her name after their third sexual encounter, and hinting that he would marry her when he was out of office. In a seamless transition, the moment she became inconvenient, he eagerly set about destroying her. Good thing she kept that dress.

Yet the president has the audacity to describe his Herculean efforts to obstruct justice as an attempt to protect "others." Apart from "Willard," it's hard to figure who those others might be.

Even in a disbarment proceeding premised on the president's prodigious lies, he lies.

Some people are starting to detect a pattern here. The Clinton Kool-Aid drinkers obstinately refuse to consider more than one lie at a time, insisting that any attempt to draw a line from Clinton's lie No. 1 through lie No. 2 and all the way to lie No. 1,023,543 is a fool's errand. People who can remember what happened yesterday ("Clinton-haters") are treated like lunatics who see patterns in wheat fields.

As for whether the sanction of disbarment is "unprecedented," it is indubitably true that it is difficult to come up with an analogous precedent to Bill Clinton. With the help of DNA evidence, tapes and a score of witnesses, the man was caught lying under oath and encouraging others to lie under oath (those "others" he was so eager to protect, no doubt).

Moreover, Clinton is not an obscure lawyer in Arkansas, but president of the United States. If nothing else, committing crimes while president does have the effect of calling attention to oneself.

The state bar considering President Nixon's disbarment certainly thought that being president made a difference. Like Clinton, Nixon had not been indicted for any crime; unlike Clinton, Nixon could not have been charged with perjury since he had not given any sworn statements throughout the Watergate investigation. He merely stood accused of obstruction of justice, a debatable charge that was not supported by, say, DNA evidence.

Still, the New York Bar was in such a frenzy of indignation about Nixon that it refused his tendered resignation, so that he could be disbarred.

The court opinion disbarring Nixon noted that obstruction of justice is "a most serious offense," an offense that was "rendered even more grievous" because Nixon was president -- "the holder of the highest public office of this country and in a position of public trust."

Foreshadowing another Clinton argument, the court explicitly acknowledged that Nixon was not acting in his capacity as a lawyer during his alleged offenses, but said the power to discipline attorneys extends to nonprofessional conduct that "reflects adversely upon the legal profession and is not in accordance with the high standards imposed upon members of the bar."

Clinton can't even meet the high standards imposed on Boy Scouts. Though the U.S. president is honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America, after receiving complaints from kazillions of parents, the Boy Scouts have finally removed Clinton's signature from the certificate presented to Eagle Scouts. Maybe that's why it means something different to be called a "Boy Scout" than to be called a "lawyer."