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Clinton he ain't

By Keith D. Cummings
web posted February 23, 2004

John KerryThe latest issue exciting the Republicans appears to be the claim that John F. Kerry may have been unfaithful to his wife by having a sexual relationship with Alexandra Polier. With statements in the Drudge Report and The Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web, conservatives are salivating at the opportunity to use the sex scandal as a means of finally vindicating themselves and their attitudes about Bill Clinton and his behavior in the White House.

The liberals are already warming up their mantra "it's just about sex." This was the way they defended Clinton all during the Monica Lewinski scandal. A person's sexual life, his private life, is not a matter for public consumption and shouldn't be considered, so they said. These statements don't apply to Republicans or heads of big corporations, of course. A CEO who has sex with an underling is subject to rebuke for forcing his way on the woman, even if the sex is consensual. The double standard has been clear in the treatment of both the erstwhile president and the current governor of California.

But this ignores the crux of the matter. Regardless of one's opinion on sex with interns or subordinates, regardless of one's opinion of Bill Clinton, John Kerry or Arnold Schwarzenegger; there is a major difference between what John Kerry has done (or not done) with Ms. Polier and what Bill Clinton did while he was in the White House.

Paula Jones claimed that the kid governor of Arkansas forced himself on her. She said that her position, as a state employee, seemed in her mind to be in danger unless she acceded to Bill's advances. She claimed that she ultimately suffered damages as a result of her refusal and that Bill Clinton was the cause of those damages.

Had Bill Clinton been a Republican governor turned president, had George W. Bush been similarly accused, the media and the leftist women's groups would have been demanding his head on a pike. Instead, they gave him a pass. "It's only sex."

The problem was, it wasn't only sex. When Bill Clinton engaged in unseemly behavior with a young White House intern, he was the chief executive of the organization that employed that young woman. Further, he was preparing to defend himself against claims that he has engaged in sexual activity with woman who depend on his continued pleasure for their continued employment. When asked, under oath, by an attorney, William Jefferson Blythe Clinton lied. The chief executive of the U.S. government, the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces and, most importantly, the chief law enforcement officer in the land violated the law. He committed a crime, the crime of perjury. That was, is and always will be the particular offense for which millions of genuine conservatives and libertarians were offended.

The "rule of law," a phrase heard much from the mouths of conservative pundits, is the most important aspect of American civilization. As a nation, we citizens have pledged, tacitly if not officially, to abide by a set of standards and norms. We agree to respect one another's rights and property. The rule of law keeps one man from entering another's home; from taking another's goods. The rule of law allows business to be transacted by ensuring the faith of both parties. It allows each of us to know what we can expect from one another and to whom we can turn when we have been wronged. Without the rule of law, the social contract that is American society will collapse.

In the 1990s, we saw the one man in whom adherence to the rule of law should have been paramount flout it for his own convenience and carnal satisfaction. When the president of the United States can't be trusted to abide by the very laws he was sworn to enforce, those laws lose their value and their merit. Faith, trust and confidence in one another and society in general are eroded.

John F. Kerry may or may not have had an affair with Ms. Polier. A man who divorced his first, wealthy wife to marry a second, wealthier wife is not a man who has shown the highest regard for the vows that he took when he was married. A man who doesn't put faith in the vows he has taken may or may not be a good choice to be the president of the United States. The quality of his character is something that must be judged by the American people. Regardless of how salacious the claims, how excited the supporters of President George W. Bush, one fact remains. John F. Kerry, for all his faults, isn't as bad as Bill Clinton.

Keith D. Cummings is the author of Opening Bell, a political / financial thriller. His website is http://www.keith-cummings.com.

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