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Clinton's Senate trial
Enterprise Editorial
Jan. 7, 1999

By Jean Hay, Managing Editor

The Senate should not censure or convict President Clinton because he lied about his private life. Since what Clinton did had absolutely nothing to do with his Presidential duties, it is none of the Senate's business. If there is an issue of possible perjury or obstruction of justice in the matter, the Senate should throw the matter down to a lower court, where it belongs.

We need some balance here. The harshest penalty for perjury in any normal court of law is a couple of years in prison. With the Senate impeachment trial, Clinton -- if convicted -- is facing not only a loss of his job and his Presidential pension, but also banishment from making a living in public service of any kind for the rest of his life.

That's a bit much for lying about sex, don't you think?

And Senate talk about ignoring legal technicalities should give us all pause.

Despite several Democrats reminding their Republican attorney/politician counterparts that Basic Law 101 requires perjury charges to include the specific words alleged to be perjorious, the House repeatedly refused. Doesn’t that make that impeachment article inherently defective?

Then we have House Republican Whip Tom DeLay actually suggesting that the 100 Senators come stroll through the evidence room for what was not presented during impeachment hearings, to see if Clinton's guilty of something, even if it's not what he was impeached for. Is that the way justice is dispensed at the highest level in the United States of America?

And sorry folks, but it is not against the law to dissect a prosecutor's poorly worded question with the comment, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." After all, it does. Are we talking present tense or past tense, now or before? It makes a difference. It is not Clinton's fault that Starr's minions did not know enough to pick up on Sen. Joe McCarthy's mantra and ask "Are you now or have you ever been..."

It is also not a given as to whether or not Clinton lied under oath. Clearly Clinton has lied about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. He lied to you and to me on television. He lied to Hillary, his Cabinet, his lawyers.

Whether he lied under oath about a material matter is something else. He was very cagey in his grand jury testimony, sidestepping many questions, being vague and unhelpful. But Lawyer Clinton doesn’t believe he technically committed perjury, so he won't confess to having done so – a refusal which drives the Republicans up a wall.

But if the Senate doesn’t vote to convict or censure, does that mean the philanderer gets off scot-free? Hardly. He is only the second President in our history to have been impeached. That fact will not change. And he faces possible charges after he leaves office. Ken Starr will see to that.

As for Bill Clinton getting the comeuppance he deserves for his moral failings, we should leave that up to God -- and Hillary.

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