We'll Keep Clinton
Tuesday, September 22, 1998 by Dave Winer.
I watched TV yesterday morning and last night, watched an hour from the Clinton grand jury testimony, and bits from Clinton's United Nations speech. I also watched Larry King Live on CNN.
I was impressed with Clinton's testimony. I can relate, I can imagine being in his shoes and not being able to keep it together as well as he did. Have I ever cheated on a relationship? Yes I have. Have I ever had sex in an inappropriate place? Absolutely. Have I ever lied to keep the truth from coming out? I'm embarassed to say that yes I have. How would I explain it in a suit, in front of the video cameras? I'd shrug it off. I'm a person. Get a clue. I'd be happy if I could do this as well as Clinton did in his videotaped testimony.
There was a tremendous contrast to the Clinton testimony on August 17, and his public address later the same day. Clinton would have been better served if he had taken a few days off between giving the testimony and speaking to the world.
My Truth Decay piece was a response to his public statement on August 17. I was outraged, justifiably, at his continuing spin, denial and lies. Now it's clear that he kept his cool in the testimony, relatively, and used the evening TV address to vent his rage, that most of us didn't share or understand, at his prosecutors. Not good public relations, and not a smart way to talk to your employers when your job is in jeopardy.
There might not have been a way to avoid the rage. The story was going to come out, it may have been better to get it all over with right away, and it may not have been possible for (some of) us to see that there are two sides to this story.
I was touched by the standing ovation that the president received at the United Nations. Don't miss this. The world needs leadership. The United States is in a unique position. The other countries are powerless until the cameras show up at the UN, and then they can stand up and show us that we could view this differently.
I watched Larry King Live, and saw there is nothing new. They're having the same discussion they've been having for the last few months. I find now that my opinion has shifted. I'm tired of the argument that he has to leave, I think it would cost too much, and I believe that there are other preferable solutions.
Let's keep Clinton for two more years. I don't think he'll do it again, any of it. We may have the most refreshingly honest two years of presidency in several generations. The cost of switching presidents now would be very high. The cost of miring ourselves in the depths of these details is even more consequential. Based on the experience with the Nixon resignation, I think we'd be recovering from this for ten or fifteen years. We could do it differently.
We've spoken. We've found the line that we don't want our presidents to cross.
We actually have a pretty good president, if you can consider, in balance, his unacceptable acts against the positive ones. I would have supported impeachment and removal for his signing the Communication Decency Act, one of the most reprehensible things any president has ever done, in my humble opinion. A high crime and misdemeanor? Absolutely. There's nothing more precious than free speech and nothing more deserving of protection than a new medium. Impeachment was never seriously considered for this act, probably because Congress passed the law that he signed. There are probably a few essays in this idea, maybe we'll get to that later.
On the other hand, Clinton has stood up for some individual rights, probably for the wrong reasons, but it doesn't matter. The US economy appears healthy, and although I don't believe he deserves the credit for this, a change in presidents is likely to upset the prosperity because we could lose focus, easily.
Clinton clearly doesn't have a philosophy, but that doesn't mean we can't have one. There are checks and balances, the power in Washington is distributed. There's an election on November 3, and his job and our continued approval is going to mean a lot to him, a lot more than it did when he acted so carelessly.
Finally, to people who insist that this stuff shouldn't be on TV, I don't agree. Let's get it all out. If you don't like seeing it on TV, I have a solution for you. Stop watching TV. It works.