Tuesday, December 15, 1998 by Dave Winer.
To those who wish that I would stay away from US politics, you may choose to not read this piece. As a US citizen, I have something to say. I'm not hearing it on TV, or reading it on the web or in newspapers. I'm not a Democrat or a Republican, you can be sure this is not partisan politics. I am just me, nothing more.
It's easy to get wound up and confused in the Clinton quagmire. More than the public inquest into Clarence Thomas's sexuality in 1991, this one directly questions the political stability of the United States. What is it built on and how strong is that foundation? What has to be covered up, swept aside, in order for us to remain intact as a country?
In late September, I wrote a piece We'll Keep Clinton. I've changed my mind. Impeachment is the way to go. Enough is enough. The issue is not going to go away, nor should it.
A generation ago we decided that sexual harassment is a crime.
We decided to rise above a system where powerful people could demand sex of subordinates.
We decided to focus on merit and excellence, not sexual willingness.
We decided to weed out sexual corruption from our professional lives by criminalizing it.
Clinton was accused of sexual harassment, not with Lewinsky, with Jones and then Willey. That should be pause for thought on its own. But it went further, he lied about it. He thwarted justice. He evaded prosecution. He lied and induced others to lie.
Not until Joseph Lieberman, a Democratic Senator from Connecticut called him on the lies, did he stop spinning and diflecting and accusing.
At one point Clinton said his fate was in the hands of others. He would shut up and let the Congress decide his fate. That was a good idea. But, with the polls on his side (how many of them vote?) now he's back, lobbying and spinning.
Yesterday Al Gore preached about the wisdom of the American people. This was the most insulting part, a preview of what's to come. They think they have us. Back to business as usual.
Yesterday Clinton said he hasn't even thought about resigning. Hasn't even crossed his mind. Are you kidding? On it's face it's a lie. If you don't get it, think about this. It would be like me saying right now that it never crossed my mind to type this essay into my computer. Well, what am I doing right now?
The specific charges, perjury and obstruction of justice, are the small picture. The big picture is that we elected a man who has contempt for our intelligence and vision. He depends on us to ignore the blatant contradictions. He lies, it's his lifestyle, and we accept it. No big deal, some say, but the lies are negating accusations of criminal behavior, and to me at least, make him look more and more guilty of the sexual harassment he was accused of.
The question, now long forgotten, was and is, is he a sexual harasser? Would we remove a president who used his office in the practice of sexual crimes? Well, you tell me. Would you?
Long before it was a matter before the US Congress, it was being considered in the courts. It was *his* choice to get in the way of that process. That it's come to this, impeachment, is his doing, not ours, and not the Republicans.
So many smart, otherwise caring people, seem to overlook this. He was charged with doing something reprehensible. He lied to protect himself. If you can forgive that, can you forgive him for pressuring other people to lie to protect him? Isn't this how sexual harassment gets overlooked, how it gets buried, forgotten, and the crimes are allowed to continue?
We are going thru a national grieving, that's for sure. There's no way to put this behind us without looking at why it happened. And I encourage you to look deeper than the flaws of one person, or the politics of Congress, or the legalities of impeachment. Look at the moral character of each of us as voters. When we elected Clinton what were we saying about ourselves and our aspirations for our country?
We were saying, in my humble opinion, that we want a country built on lies. We elected an architect of lies, a craftsman, a tale spinner, a little boy who smiles and asks for our approval even though he's lying and we know it. This goes all the way back to "I didn't inhale." Who cares if a child of the sixties smoked pot. But why did we elect a man who lies about it?
The Sexual McCarthyism argument is another insult, more spin bullshit.
If he had a happy sex life I'd be the first to congratulate him. That would be quite an accomplishment. But that's not what we're talking about.
Again, it's about sexual violence, one step short of rape. And it happened on the job, probably many times, in the workplace we collectively own, the White House.
Such matters are always public, whether the accused is a President or a Supreme Court nominee, or a random employee somewhere in America.
I'm fed up with this country. It's time for us to grow up, take responsibility, get back on track. We are losers. That's what Clinton says about us. I'm fed up with people who say we can't elect a different kind of leader. We have the power. We're at an inflection point. Big change is here. I hate powerlessness. Use your power. Now it's time for thought and vision. What do you want for our country?
Please look beyond the issues of one sad example of an American. He doesn't matter. That's what I want Clinton to say and for us to accept. The only realistic act of contrition, the only way for us to go forward before his term expires, is for Clinton to show a tiny bit of pride in his country, to put it first, to step out of the way, and let us all move on. He won't do it, so we have to do it ourselves.
This is not a quick judgement. We've had our noses firmly planted in his horrendous integrity at least since January, and I believe, much longer.
To the Congress, please please impeach him. For us and for perpetuity. The President needs to know that we own him, not vice versa. If he lies, we may forgive, but he has to ask for forgiveness. He's still arguing. He's still lying. Teach him and all that follow that we're tough when it comes to the truth.
To the rest of American electorate that chooses lies, you're selling us out. If you think the lying was bad before, just wait, if he gets off clean, it's going to be really disgusting. And not just with this President, with all future Presidents. The spin doctors, the professional liars, are recalculating right now. It could get much worse.
The solution is in our hands right now. Support Congress. They're doing the right thing for once. Let Clinton's trial be a confirmation that the truth matters. We have no more important business. Clinton could have relied on our goodness, our generosity, our wisdom, instead he's appealing to our powerlessness. I hate being lied to by an employee. I won't stand for it. Will you?
And finally, since sexual harassment is largely a male versus female crime, please think about a young woman, a daughter or niece will do, and explain to her why it doesn't matter that Clinton obstructed justice to keep from being punished for committing a serious sexual crime.
By overlooking Clinton's dishonesty we become complicit. When he says the truth doesn't matter, and you agree, you're saying we can never be better than we are. To me, these things matter, they really do.