Talk:Bill Clinton vs. George W. Bush/2006

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Note

The following discussion was moved from Talk:Bush neoconservative, as it seemed more about comparing Bush and Clinton than about whether or not Bush neoconservative was a legitimate term.

Midian says

Under President Clinton, a similar list [of supported causes (vs. those of Bush Neoconservatives), presumably -W.] could apply to most Democrats. Does that make them "neolibs", "socialists", or is the Democrat party just really that far left?

  • the US Invasion of Iraq (And Haiti, and Somalia, and Bosnia)
  • President William J. Clinton
  • the precedence of presidential authority over constitutional law
  • the actions of the president are above the law (sexual assault, perjury, etc.)
  • big government spending for political ends

Midian 12:06, 30 August 2006 (EDT)

Woozle replies

I'm not sure I am understanding some of your points above. Overall, you seem to be saying that there was a similar breakaway cabal during the Clinton years, and so there should be a similar term for them. However, during the Clinton administration there was not, as far as I am aware, such a huge gap between Democratic/liberal ideals and the actual actions of elected officials in the Democratic party (including Clinton) as there is now between Republican/conservative ideals and the actual actions of elected officials in the Republican party -- especially at the very top. If I need to spell out the details of that gap, please let me know.

Replies to other specific points, which may not be on target because I'm not sure what you're getting at:

  • The US did not invade Iraq under Clinton, and The Gulf War (we fought Iraq but did not invade) was approved by the UN. My understanding is that the Bosnia thing was also approved by the UN, went extremely well (having actually been planned beforehand), cost not a single American life, put Europe at peace for the first time in 3000 years, and greatly improved foreign impressions of America to the point where they still love Clinton over there, even after all the nonsense we've pulled under the Bush regime. Hardly the actions of a cabal. (I'm guessing that you also don't approve of Clinton's actions with regard to Haiti and Somalia, but I need more information.)
  • Clinton did not, as far as I am aware, ever claim that presidential authority should be above the law -- not ever, and certainly not to the extent that Bush is openly doing now.
  • Clinton may have abused the appeal of his rank as president for personal gain (very personal -- not monetary, just sexual favors, and as far as I know he never actually abused his power as president, despite numerous Republican investigations which did not result in a single indictment), but this seems very minor compared to Bush's blatant abuses of power. (Again, let me know if I need to spell this out... much of it is on the George W. Bush page.)
  • As I understand it, Bush is far more guilty of "big government spending for political ends" than any previous president, much less Clinton.

It seems relevant to have a term to distinguish this specific bunch of so-called conservatives from real conservatives because they really only pay lip-service to a few favorite conservative causes (gay-bashing, prayer, worshipping the flag...) without actually being conservative at heart (saving money and cutting taxes, the rule of law, not engaging in "empire-building"...). Although obviously not a conservative myself, I would take Bush Senior or even the Reagan administration over these guys; at least they were arguably sincere.

Would you rather have a leader who is dishonest in his personal life, or one who is dishonest about his intentions for the country? Would you rather have a leader who can't keep his pants on, or a leader who deliberately leads his country towards disaster?

On the wrong road

Just because Bush (43) is a horrible president doesn't make Clinton squeeky clean. Clinton's "personal life" was put on display by HIM in the White House. Sexual harassment in the workplace would get any normal businessman fired, and the company sued for millions in damages if it did not react quickly enough. Then perjuring himself during his deposition while under oath, using his position to obstruct justice. The only reason he was not impeached was the vote on party lines. To impeach the president would have given the Democrat party a black eye, so they went against the law and allowed Clinton to be above the law.

Setting the precedent for the president being above the law, is it any wonder why the Republicans, with a majority in the House and Senate think they can do the same?

The Democrats really shouldn't complain about the road we are on when they are the ones who took the wrong turn in the first place. I can only hope that someday we get back on the right path, but the mixed apathy and disdain of the populace for politics and politicians will prevent that from happening anytime soon. Midian 13:31, 1 September 2006 (EDT)

Woozle replies

Clinton was exhaustively investigated (under a conservative-led Congress) regarding several accusations, as were a number of others associated with him; this resulted in not one single conviction. He may not have been squeaky clean personally, but his professional conduct was able to withstand the most hostile scrutiny and emerge essentially unscathed.

In response to other issues you raise:

  1. How did Clinton set a precedent for the President being above the law? He did not, as I understand it, use his Presidential powers to evade investigation of any of the things of which he was accused; he apparently lied under oath, but it doesn't take Presidential powers to do that. You say he used "his position to obstruct justice"; I have heard this accusation with regard to Clinton before, but have never been clear on the details (feel free to start that page).
  2. It sounds like you are arguing that Clinton placed the presidency above the law, and therefore he was the one who "started it", and therefore it is the Democrats who "took the wrong turn in the first place". If this is the case...
    • I need to see more specifics on the suggestion that Clinton placed the presidency above the law; it is a point which is arguable but far from settled.
    • Even if Clinton did make the first move in this direction, GWB has taken it to an entirely different and much more dangerous level. Excusing Bush's actions on the basis of Clinton's is like one boy saying it's ok that he shot someone with a gun because another boy took it out of the drawer. Equating Bush's actions with Clinton's is similarly like equating the act of shooting with the act of taking out the gun.
    • Even if you argue successfully that Clinton's bad behavior is morally equivalent to Bush's corruption, all you are saying is "Clinton did it first!", i.e. two wrongs make a right.

Relative Moralism

That's the main problem with relative moralism. Two wrongs don't make a right, but when one wrong is redefined to be right, then a second, equal or similar wrong is just as right.

President Clinton's obvious and blatant lying in court, defined as Perjury, which is illegal, was brushed aside strictly due to partisan politics, placing the president above the law. So now the line has moved, it is acceptable for the president to lie.

Bush's lies can be said to be worse, or not, than Clinton's lies, but lies are lies, and now the president is allowed to lie as he or she wishes due to precedent (the basis of most of our legal system).

Moral relativism? Not unless you're a hardline absolutist...

Nobody said – or, at least, I am not arguing – that Clinton's actions were "right". I am mainly saying that Bush's are of a far worse and more serious level of badness.

Clinton's mistakes (correct me if I'm leaving anything out) were:

  • mismanagement of his personal life, in a highly unprofessional way
  • allowing said mismanagement to become public
  • lying about what happened

The first two parts were mainly harmful to himself. You could say "adultery is wrong", and his adulterous actions therefore harmed society, and I wouldn't disagree with you – but I would also argue that the harm is a drop in the bucket, and could have been overlooked if he had been honest and apologetic from the first.

The lying, however, I would agree with you (if I'm understanding you correctly), was of more significant harm to society as a whole. It reduced people's trust in the office of the president (which hasn't been all that great for at least the past decade or two) and opened the door for presidential lying to be brushed off more casually.

I think it's quite unfair to say that he "placed himself above the law", however. There were countless inquiries into the matter, and whether or not he told the truth during the proceedings, he surely acknowledged the validity of those proceedings, and the laws supporting them, by responding and appearing as requested to answer charges. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall him ever saying "I don't think The President of the United States should have to answer this sort of question."

Furthermore, I can understand (at least a little) someone in Clinton's position – having made an embarrassing personal blunder and wanting not to look like an idiot – panicking under pressure and trying to pretend it didn't happen. What I can't understand is someone in Bush's position, where the issue was not personal at all but a matter of policy. Lying to the American people in order to rush into a war which should have been carefully planned is calculated deception. Courts generally make a distinction between impulse crimes and calculated crimes; Bush's lies are impersonal, calculated, and without remorse. Clinton apologized, when the truth finally came out; where are Bush's admissions and apologies? Where does he even openly and honestly address the questions, if he truly believes what he says?

Also, mainly for the sake of accuracy: the history of presidential lying goes back long before Clinton. Take Nixon, for example, though I'm sure he wasn't the first. Not that this makes it okay; I just don't think Clinton deserves to be the poster-boy for presidential immorality.

My argument is based on on a matter of degree; I suppose you could call that moral relativism, but it seems more like "being sensible" to me. If you allow for no degrees of badness in lying ("lies are lies"), then would you also say that jaywalking on a Sunday afternoon is as bad as a liquor-store holdup because "crime is crime"? Precedent may be the basis of much of our legal system, but our legal system also does take severity into account (hence different sentences for different crimes). And if "lies are lies", then shouldn't Bush be impeached as well? Or are the new presidential standards supposedly set by Clinton acceptable to you?

--Woozle 19:40, 13 September 2006 (EDT)

Addendum: by saying that the formal decision not to charge Clinton with perjury was somehow placing the president above the law, by a body (the Senate) which was at that time a Republican majority and included 10 Republicans who voted against the indictment, is a charge against the formal political process, not against Clinton, and overall seems indefensible. There was a trial; all the facts came out; a lot of senators voted to indict, but not enough agreed that it was necessary. --Woozle 10:45, 9 November 2006 (EST)

Response

When is one lie 'far worse and more serious level of badness' than another? When said under oath knowing the lie is a falsehood? Or when said to the public in open discussion when actually believing the lie to the be the truth based on the information given?

You characterize his actions as 'mismanagement of his personal life, in a highly unprofessional way', when the fact is he knowingly, willingly, and repeatedly performed sexual harassment in the workplace while on the taxpayers dime. Any other business owner would have been sued for millions.

When you perform your misdeeds in the office to which you have been entrusted, it isn't about 'allowing said mismanagement to become public' but about doing things that would get any other person fired, at least, in a PUBLIC place, making them the public's business from the start.

He didn't just '[lie] about what happened', he perjured himself while under oath. There is a world of difference. And being allowed to perjure himself under oath, a felony if I recall correctly, without any repurcussions, puts him, and the office of the President above the law.

I don't even care about his personal life, that he committed adultery. I believe Gary Hart would have made a great president, yet he also committed adultery. What is truly personal can and should be kept so. It was no longer personal when he performed his actions in OUR office on OUR dime.

Quite a few times Clinton did indeed try to use the office of President to get himself out of trouble because the lawsuits (Paula Jones sexual harassment, Whitewater land scandal) would, in his words, 'distract him from performing his duties.'

Personally, a lie is a lie. Equating jaywalking to armed robbery is way out of the park. A falsehood by anyone for any reason is a sign of disrespect, distrust, and destroys the fabric on which trust is built. Clinton is not the first president to lie, nor will Bush be the last, but that doesn't make either one acceptable.

The ongoing war in Iraq is a completely seperate topic but suffice it to say the US was 'damned if we do, damned if we don't.' It was a botched action from the start, but the quality of the intelligence given the Bush about WMD has been gone over and over and I truly believe he thought he would find them.

Clinton was impeached for Obstruction of Justice, including, but not limited to, perjuring himself under oath. Bush's "lies" to the public, whether knowingly or misinformed, are neither perjury nor obsctruction of justice. Besides, impeaching Bush would make Cheney president. While I'm not a big fan of Bush, the thought of Cheney as president terrifies me.

Woozle responds

I think we need to check up on some details:

  • Is there a specific law against adultery, in Washington DC? (I presume there isn't a federal law.)
  • Is the President in some way immune from prosecution under such law, due to his office or due to being a federal official? I have a vague memory that the President has some special immunities, but I wasn't able to find any information about this.

Now, to your comments...

When is one lie 'far worse and more serious level of badness' than another? When said under oath knowing the lie is a falsehood? Or when said to the public in open discussion when actually believing the lie to the be the truth based on the information given?

First: I would tentatively suggest that public officials should always be considered to be speaking under oath whenever they are speaking on the record. (I can imagine exceptions under certain circumstances, but I'm not aware of any in either Clinton's or Bush's case.)

This reduces the question to "When is a lie worse: when the speaker knows that it is a lie, or when the speaker believes it is true?"

If the speaker honestly believes what he is saying, then it's not a lie. The answer to your question, then, is that it is obviously much worse when the speaker knows he is lying. It seems undeniable that this was, in fact, the case with Clinton, so I think we can agree up to that point.

The evidence about whether or not Bush knew he was lying is not all in yet, but there is certainly a fair amount to indicate that he did – and there are multiple incidents to examine; we're not just talking about WMDs and Iraq. I have recorded at least two examples of where he made a big, splashy, forward-looking statement in public one day, and then very soon afterward (the next day in some cases) said something else which made it clear he hadn't really meant the original statement at all and was in fact working against it.

Next: I would also think that in the second case (he thought he was telling the truth), it would be understood that when the truth turns out to be different, the speaker should admit his error and deal with the consequences. I don't know that Bush has ever admitted error; he has generally changed the subject or ignored the question. He knows what's best for America, and he's not interested in anyone else's opinion, except maybe that of his close circle of advisors.

So, summary: (1) it's not at all settled that Bush thought he was telling the truth; (2) Bush doesn't really seem to be interested in discovering or disseminating the truth – only in getting his way, toward which end he feels entirely justified in bending, concealing, or completely reinventing the truth.

You characterize his actions as 'mismanagement of his personal life, in a highly unprofessional way', when the fact is he knowingly, willingly, and repeatedly performed sexual harassment in the workplace while on the taxpayers dime. Any other business owner would have been sued for millions.

When you perform your misdeeds in the office to which you have been entrusted, it isn't about 'allowing said mismanagement to become public' but about doing things that would get any other person fired, at least, in a PUBLIC place, making them the public's business from the start.

Do you have examples of this from the business world? (You may be right; I'm just looking for particulars against which to measure Clinton's behavior and subsequent treatment.)

He didn't just '[lie] about what happened', he perjured himself while under oath. There is a world of difference. And being allowed to perjure himself under oath, a felony if I recall correctly, without any repurcussions, puts him, and the office of the President above the law.

By "lying about what happened", I was referring to lying under oath; as I said above, I don't really see a whole lot of difference between lying under oath and merely lying on the record, at least if you're a government official. Yes, that goes on the list of Clinton's bad behavior.

I don't even care about his personal life, that he committed adultery. I believe Gary Hart would have made a great president, yet he also committed adultery. What is truly personal can and should be kept so. It was no longer personal when he performed his actions in OUR office on OUR dime.

What I understand you to be saying here is that all the prior accusations of adultery essentially don't matter; what does matter is:

  • those which he committed while in office (US President or Arkansas Governor)
  • the occasions on which he lied (about the aforementioned) while in office
Quite a few times Clinton did indeed try to use the office of President to get himself out of trouble because the lawsuits (Paula Jones sexual harassment, Whitewater land scandal) would, in his words, 'distract him from performing his duties.'

How is that excuse unique to the office of the President? Couldn't any official (government or business) use the same excuse? (It's certainly a lame excuse, no argument there.)

Personally, a lie is a lie. Equating jaywalking to armed robbery is way out of the park. A falsehood by anyone for any reason is a sign of disrespect, distrust, and destroys the fabric on which trust is built. Clinton is not the first president to lie, nor will Bush be the last, but that doesn't make either one acceptable.

In an ideal world, I would agree completely about acceptability. Few and far between, sadly, are the politicians whose behavior I would even begin to consider "acceptable". In the imperfect world we have, though, where we must often choose the lesser of two evils, I would rather have a leader who is careless with his personal life than a leader who is careless (at best) with his duty to guard the Constitution. I would rather have a leader who lies (under oath or not) about his personal life than one who lies about his true motives and intentions.

Why is it that jaywalking (a crime) is not remotely comparable to armed robbery (also a crime), but all lies are equally bad? (I mean, you're entitled to your opinion, and not all opinions can be defended on purely logical grounds, but is there more that I should understand here?)

The ongoing war in Iraq is a completely seperate topic but suffice it to say the US was 'damned if we do, damned if we don't.' It was a botched action from the start, but the quality of the intelligence given the Bush about WMD has been gone over and over and I truly believe he thought he would find them.

Clinton was impeached for Obstruction of Justice, including, but not limited to, perjuring himself under oath. Bush's "lies" to the public, whether knowingly or misinformed, are neither perjury nor obsctruction of justice. Besides, impeaching Bush would make Cheney president. While I'm not a big fan of Bush, the thought of Cheney as president terrifies me.

"Damned if we do, damned if we don't": I'll agree that Saddam (and the Taliban, though not directly related to each other) needed to be dealt with. There were, however, much better, more effective ways we could have done both of those things, ways in which they could have been done without coming in with guns blazing and playing the Global Bully to the hilt (which, IMHO, is exactly what the planners of 9/11 wanted) and thus turning the Islamic world even more against us. It didn't need to be an emergency, and we could have been the rescuing heroes the Bush administration claims we are, and that we know we are capable of being – if we had been given the real reasons for doing it, time to convince the rest of the world of the rightness of our cause (which would have been truly just, instead of being a lie trumped up to get people lined up quickly), time to build a coalition, time to gather that accurate intelligence we may have lacked (and to gather more), time for the military strategists to create a set of well-designed plans, and time to get all the players in place before committing to act.

We didn't have quality intelligence? WTF were we doing going into battle, then? We were told Saddam was a madman sitting on WMDs – is that the time to go in with sticks and whack the hornet's nest? (These were my thoughts way back when the invasion of Iraq was still being sold to us, and I haven't had any reason to think differently.) It seems to me we were extremely lucky that Saddam turned out not to have WMDs after all; who knows what a crazed dictator, backed into a corner, might have done with them?

Amen on Cheney.

Midian Responds

  • Always Under Oath: While politicians are acting on behalf of their constituents and should uphold a certain level of decency, holding them "always under oath" is unrealistic. They are but human, like the rest of us, and don't always have a speech prepared. Things are said that not only change over time ("We are not in Haiti." "We are in Haiti but only as peacekeepers." "We are fighting in Haiti.") but that full knowledge is not always available, or even simply misspeaking.
  • Admitting Error: First, not everyone has the intestinal fortitude to admit when they've made a mistake. Second, admition of mistakes can, and does, have impact on relations with others. It can make one look weak, and while the facts do get out and everyone learns of mistakes, one's leader should not under every circumstance admit failure of intelligence, knowledge, or planning. As a ficticious example: "Our fighters were in the air within 10 minutes." when in actuality they weren't in the air for over 2 hours due to redtape and improper communication and authorization. Should the President admit he was mistaken, detailing how weak and delayed our defenses are?
  • Adultery illegal in DC: Washington, DC http://laws.findlaw.com/DC/975333a.html & http://laws.findlaw.com/US/509/688.html "if the crime of adultery with which he was charged was included in the crime of unlawful cohabitation for which he was convicted and punished, that question is now to be considered, 131 U.S., at 185 (emphasis added)), from its legal analysis, id., at 186-189, and from its repeated observations that cohabitation required proof of adultery, id., at 187, 189." (case is not related to Clinton but establishes that adultery seems to be a crime within the jurisdiction of D.C. –Woozle)
  • Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Therefore it is illegal activity. The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee. The citizens of the United States, being the de facto "employers" of the President would qualify here. Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co. (settlement $3.5 million) established the first class action lawsuit over sexual harassment. Recently Bill O'Reilly was sued for $60 million for sexual harassment. In Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, Florida, and Burlington v. Ellerth, it was found that employers are liable for sexual harassment by their employees.
  • When and Where: It doesn't matter that Clinton was President when he commited his adultery, what matters is he did it at the "workplace" with an employee. If he had screwed around in his home on his off hours with someone who didn't work for him, that's a private matter between him and Hillary.
  • Lying about sexual harassment: Typical of those who do something wrong, he lied about it. Many of us do, and while it betrays trust and destroys the foundation for faith in the office, it isn't illegal. But when put on the stand and sworn to testify under oath, he perjured himself.
  • Lying Under Oath: President Clinton did knowingly and willing lie while under oath. Perjury by definition. There was no "right wing conspiracy" here, he did it in front of the whole country. I'm proud of those Demcrats who stood with the Republicans for the law and not party lines. The only reason he wasn't prosecuted was due to the Democrats in the senate voting on party lines, placing the office of the President above the law.
  • Obstruction of Justice: By perjuring himself, he was blocking the proper investigation of the case. He also tried to use his office to prevent the proper execution of justice in the Whitewater and Paula Jones court cases.
  • Jaywalking vs. Armed Robbery: Jaywalking puts your own person at risk. Armed robbery infringes on the rights of others to be secure in their persons and property (Amendment IV, US Constitution).
  • WMD: Try this example...a bully in school shoots a piece of wadded up paper with a rubber band (poison gas) at another student (the people of Iraq). The teacher (the UN) tells him to throw the rubber band away. The bully professes he did so, putting his hands behind his back and not allowing the teacher or anyone else to see. Do you know if he has the rubber band still or not? Do you know if he picked up a paperclip or more dangerous instrument (nukes) with which to use? What would you presume he has done with the rubber band? In the real world the odds are highly in favor of the bully still having both the rubber band and maybe even obtained a paperclip. Should the teacher repeatedly say "throw it away", without enforcing it in anyway (as the UN did), should we simply wait until he uses them again, harming many others, or should we take them from him preventing the harm. The idealist and objectivist in me says if we have the means to prevent harm, even at the risk of lesser harm, we should do so.

Woozle responds to Midian's points

  • Always under oath: Your suggestion seems reasonable, but what it comes down to for me is this. If an elected official tells a lie or even makes a mistake when not under oath, either they are later questioned about it or they aren't. If they aren't, then it's obviously no big deal. If they are, that is their opportunity to set the record straight, and apologize for making the error. If they instead stick to their guns knowing that they are not telling the truth, then it is just as bad as lying under oath.
  • Admitting error: I'm not quite sure what you're driving at, but:
    • Lack of intestinal fortitude is a serious flaw in a world leader.
    • Fear of looking weak is itself a weakness; it shows a greater concern for one's "image" than for being in the right. (I was under the impression that Bush is the one who doesn't care what those darn hoity-toity intellectual Europeans think about what the US does; how is this consistent with being nervous over the mere appearance of weakness?) Also, I totally don't buy the "we must show the terrorists that we are resolved!" argument; I think that's what they want, and I'm planning to write more about that later. Yes, in the fictitious example you give, if the president was quizzed on that point, he should admit having gotten the figure wrong.
  • Ok, it seems pretty clear that it was in fact a crime within that jurisdiction; I'd like to ultimately find the wording of the law, to get some idea of what the standard punishment is (for comparison with Clinton's treatment), but thanks for finding what you found; it's a start. The particular applicable statute is probably given somewhere in the text.
  • sexual harassment: You answered a question which I didn't ask but which follows logically from what I did ask, since sexual harassment is another thing of which Clinton was accused (it seems likely that he did in fact "crudely proposition" Paula Jones). What I gather from your notes is that there is in fact applicable federal law against sex discrimination in the form of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. A little checking shows that "In the late 1970s courts began holding that sexual harassment is also prohibited under the Act." However, this seems to apply only to employment situations, perhaps going as far as discrimination in the workplace; as far as I know, Ms. Jones was not working for Clinton. Obviously what he did was considered illegal, because of the fact that it got as far as court; probably it was an Arkansas statute, since he was in (and Governor of) Arkansas at the time of the alleged incident.
  • when and where: The Paula Jones thing does not seem to have occurred in what could reasonably be called the workplace; the Lewinsky scandal clearly was, however. From a quick examination of the story in Wikipedia (all I have time for at the moment), it looks like Lewinsky herself was perfectly happy to drop the whole thing, so I don't think it could be called "harassment". Hillary forgave Bill his transgressions, when others not involved forced it into the open.
    To my mind, the whole thing should have stopped there; the investigators are at least partly culpable for dragging the whole thing up and forcing Clinton into a corner where, as you say, many people would feel compelled to lie. He shouldn't have had the affair in the first place and he shouldn't have lied about it, but it was fundamentally a personal matter. Although lying under oath is probably one of the most severe forms of lying, the subject matter was trivial – stupid soap-opera stuff. (Perhaps I should start a page for analyzing the ethics of lying, as this seems to be a key point in our disagreement over Clinton vs. Bush.)
  • lying about sexual harassment: I agree; I don't think that point is in dispute. Clinton perjured himself.
  • lying under oath: I haven't said anything about a right-wing conspiracy, although others certainly have. There certainly plenty of evidence that members of the opposing party were looking for anything at all that they could use against him, even if it was personal and irrelevant to his ability to function as president. I wouldn't so much call that a conspiracy as I would call it Republican nature ;-)
  • obstruction of justice: Clinton was not convicted of this, though he was impeached for it. Details:
    • Jones case: Clinton was convicted of "contempt of court" for misleading testimony. He settled the initial case out of court for $850,000 (paid to Jones), and then was later ordered to pay Jones an additional $91,000 for extra legal costs due to his misleading testimony. All for "crudely propositioning" someone, and then later having the bad judgement to lie about it under intense pressure. (The Republican-led senate later attempted to impeach him for two counts of perjury in the case, but the relevant article was voted down. If you want to get technical about the significance of "perjury" versus just "lying on record", then it looks like Clinton did not commit perjury in the Jones case.) Clinton was not convicted on the obstruction of justice charge; 5 Republican senators voted against it, including Arlen Specter who felt that Clinton hadn't been given a fair trial.
    • Lewinsky case: It's entirely possible that Clinton believed he was telling the truth due to the Exhibit 1 definition of "sex", which he was ordered to use as a basis for his response and which arguably excludes oral sex. The Exhibit 1 definition was never clarified, and yet Clinton was still impeached on one count of obstruction of justice and one of perjury. (The preceding is new information to me.) However, the Senate voted against (Democrats unanimous but with substantial Republican support) upholding the impeachment, with a majority voting against the perjury charge and an even split on the obstruction of justice charge (2/3 majority required for conviction). So again, he was not convicted of perjury in this case either.
  • jaywalking vs. armed robbery: A fair distinction, and one with an applicable analogy: how many lives did Clinton's lies put at risk? How about Bush?
  • WMD: I'm not quite following the analogy. It sounds like your argument is based on the idea that we didn't know if Saddam had WMDs or not. Certainly this was the official story, and continues to be the official story; further investigation is needed, as this seems to be another key point around which much debate is circling.
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