Monday, October 24, 2005

Hypocritical Oath

The indictments haven't even been handed down, but it seems the Swift Boating of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has already begun:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 - With a decision expected this week on possible indictments in the C.I.A. leak case, allies of the White House suggested Sunday that they intended to pursue a strategy of attacking any criminal charges as a disagreement over legal technicalities or the product of an overzealous prosecutor. ...

On Sunday, Republicans appeared to be preparing to blunt the impact of any charges. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, speaking on the NBC news program "Meet the Press," compared the leak investigation with the case of Martha Stewart and her stock sale, "where they couldn't find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime."

Ms. Hutchison said she hoped "that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."
Funny. Back when President Bill Clinton was impeached on what many people claimed was "some perjury technicality" meant to show that the Republicans' seven years of investigation were not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars -- about $60 million -- Kay Bailey Hutchinson had a much different view. In her mind back then, perjury was a serious, serious problem:
Lying is a moral wrong. Perjury is a lie told under oath that is legally wrong. To be illegal, the lie must be willfully told, must be believed to be untrue, and must relate to a material matter. Title 18, Section 1621 and 1623, U.S. Code.

If President Washington, as a child, had cut down a cherry tree and lied about it, he would be guilty of 'lying,' but would not be guilty of 'perjury.'

If, on the other hand, President Washington, as an adult, had been warned not to cut down a cherry tree, but he cut it down anyway, with the tree falling on a man and severely injuring or killing him, with President Washington stating later under oath that it was not he who cut down the tree, that would be 'perjury.' Because it was a material fact in determining the circumstances of the man's injury or death.

Some would argue that the President in the second example should not be impeached because the whole thing is about a cherry tree, and lies about cherry trees, even under oath, though despicable, do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the Constitution. I disagree.

The perjury committed in the second example was an attempt to impede, frustrate, and obstruct the judicial system in determining how the man was injured or killed, when, and by whose hand, in order to escape personal responsibility under the law, either civil or criminal. Such would be an impeachable offense. To say otherwise would be to severely lower the moral and legal standards of accountability that are imposed on ordinary citizens every day. The same standard should be imposed on our leaders.

Nearly every child in America believes that President Washington, as a child himself, did in fact cut down the cherry tree and admitted to his father that he did it, saying simply: 'I cannot tell a lie.'

I will not compromise this simple but high moral principle in order to avoid serious consequences to a successor President who may choose to ignore it.


If only the President had followed the simple, high moral principle handed to us by our Nation's first leader as a child and had said early in this episode 'I cannot tell a lie,' we would not be here today. We would not be sitting in judgment of a President. We would not be invoking those provisions of the Constitution that have only been applied once before in our Nation's history.

But we should all be thankful that our Constitution is there, and we should take pride in our right and duty to enforce it. A hundred years from now, when history looks back to this moment, we can hope for a conclusion that our Constitution has been applied fairly and survives, that we have come to principled judgments about matters of national importance, and that the rule of law in American has been sustained.
So, perjury is a serious matter when the lies are about a blow job, but not that important when the lies are about outing a covert CIA operative and damaging our national security capabilities.

Got it.


Mr Furious said...


Otto Man said...

Well said.

Looks like
Crooks and Liars
beat me to the punch on the Hutchinson hypocrisy. I think this needs piling on though. She needs to be force-fed some crow.

Thrillhous said...

Wow. I hope she didn't hurt her back with that intense flip flopping.

InanimateCarbonRod said...

There's no way that an adult said that bit about the cherry tree. You made that part up, right?

Studiodave said...

Kay better be careful tieing herself to W. Her career may very well go down as fast as she did as a reporter.

Otto Man said...

That quote is not only an actual quote from Kay Bailey Hutchinson, but it's a quote she had inserted into the Congressional Record as part of her recommendations as a House impeachment manager. This was her moment in the sun, and she went with this nonsense.

I haven't been this underwhelmed by a public servant's speech since Steve Largent gave a rebuttal to a Clinton speech in which Largent's main theme was "hey, I used to be a football star!"

ORF said...

Good hunting, Otto!

Otto Man said...

Alec Baldwin over at the Huffington Post made the same comparisons, too. But he boils it down to an even more direct question:

"Why are contemporary Republicans so full of shit? And a follow-up...How did the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and General Eisenhower get taken over by such lying, thieving, self-serving scoundrels?"

Well said, Alec.

InanimateCarbonRod said...

I think that means Otto Man gets a set of steak knives.