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Truth Decay

Tuesday, August 18, 1998 by Dave Winer.

Clinton lies, the videotapes run, he looks into the camera, I did not have sex with that woman, and last night he looks into the camera and says well, yes, I did.

All the lies. The whole government machinery and press and the populace arguing about something he could have stopped, any day in the last seven months, with a simple truthful statement: I lied.

I'm sure if you've been reading DaveNet for a while you must know how I parse this. But I want to get on the record anyway.

The man lies. He tells the truth only when he's forced to. He was lying last night, I'm sure of it. It's just like Nixon all over again. He's going to take us down this road, step by step. I'm sure the lies will continue to unravel. Next month he will take full responsibility for lying to us last night. And of course his version of full responsibility is to give it to the special prosecutor. Another lie, right in our face.

You just have to listen. Some people say that Clinton didn't hurt them, so why should they worry? But what if we had a president who by default, told the truth and respected our form of government, one that requires people giving testimony to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Did he commit perjury? Yes, of course he did. I don't care about the technicalities! Get a grip Bill. More lies. This is such a sad situation.

We must want to be lied to. I hear people say he apologized, but he didn't. He says he accepts full responsibility, but he didn't. He says it's about sex, but it isn't, it's about what kind of leadership we want.

Clinton is a poor man, a man without integrity. If he resigned now he could leave office with some pride and our thanks, and he could begin a new life based on the truth, and so could our government. He could help the Democrats resurrect their integrity, and give Al Gore a better shot at winning the election in 2000.

Most important, for us and him, we could think of Clinton as a class act, a man who learned the most important lesson that life can teach us, that truth is precious, and he was willing to pay the price. Learning it at 51 is no shame, some people never do. But he hasn't learned the lesson, he's still lying.

Further, think it thru, if he stays and we don't try him for lying under oath, we are fundamentally changing the legal system in the US. Every year public officials are tried, convicted and punished for lying. Are we saying everyone is accountable but the president? I say we should do it the other way. Everyone is accountable, especially the president.

Clinton is surely the lamest kind of lame duck now. He's right, it's time to move on. The best way for that to happen is for him to resign.

Dave Winer

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