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Friday, November 11, 2005

What Clinton should have done

By today's standards, Bill Clinton was a good president. But today's standards are basically non-existent, given that the worst pResident in history was supposedly re-selected last year and STILL hasn't been impeached. By any reasonable standards, Clinton should probably be judged as being a bad president, one who sold American workers down the river with NAFTA and the WTO, and who ruthlessly bombed several countries, killing many innocent civilians. Not to mention those half-a-million Iraqi children who died because of sanctions imposed because of weapons Iraq no longer had.

Of course, when Slick Willy's errors or crimes are discussed, the Monica Lewinsky affair is generally what people think of. And while I agree with most of my progressive friends that his adultery by itself was not grounds for impeachment, I disagree with them when they suggest that the whole issue was frivolous. It was not frivolous--not because the adultery was immoral or because he told yet another lie. It was serious because he made himself, the most powerful man in the world, vulnerable to blackmail. He was willing to lie to the public, and to Congress under oath, rather than admit to his indiscretion. Who is to say he wasn't willing to do a whole lot more to protect his secret during the year that he continued to hide it? What legislation did he support or oppose, what countries did he bomb, whom did he pardon, what favors did he grant--simply because someone threatened to expose his lie?

I bring this up because there is a scandal here in Michigan concerning the state attorney general, Michael Cox, a Republican who apparently has (had?) his eye on the the governorship or beyond. (Current governor Jennifer Granholm is a former AG.) On October 14, according to Cox, he was presented with an ultimatum by a lawyer connected to former Kevorkian lawyer and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Geoffrey Feiger: back off on an investigation or else Cox's cheating on his wife would be exposed.

And, while it took him awhile, Cox did what Clinton should have done--he publicly admitted to the adultery:
The salacious political drama erupted Wednesday when Cox, with his wife at his side, staged an emotional news conference to announce the affair and to reveal the bigger shocker -- that O'Brien, acting on Fieger's behalf, allegedly tried to blackmail Cox.
Fieger denies any involvment, and there appears to have been a lot of liquor involved, at least on O'Brien's part. And Cox may be trying to pull some bizarre Repug stunt here. But if the basics are what he says they are--he had an affair and somebody tried to blackmail him about it--then his response was much more appropriate than Clinton's. My personal feeling about Clinton is that some Repub powers-that-be types had pictures and other incriminating evidence about his affairs going way back. They've had him and his wife on a short leash since 1992. The Lewinsky affair proved beyond a doubt that Clinton was vulnerable to blackmail. The only reason the blackmail itself wasn't uncovered is that neither Republicans (the blackmailers) nor Democrats (the blackmailees) would have benefitted--only the American public would have.