By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Among the signers of this new call to conscience are Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Gabriel García Márquez (author of the stunning A Hundred Years of Solitude). Also at the barricades are William Styron, Lauren Bacall, Jacques Derrida, Sophia Loren, Carlos Fuentes, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Pierre Boulez, Vanessa Redgrave, and Bernardo Bertolucci.
You might think they would be calling for an end to the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo or for immediate relief to the hundreds of thousands of black Christians and animists in the south of Sudan, many of whom are subject to slavery from the Muslim government in the north. (A horrifying tragedy that has dropped out of the news.)
No, these stars are engaged in a much more vital crusade. They rise to demand that William Jefferson Clinton be, at long last, rescued from "inquisitorial harassment by a fanatic prosecutor with unlimited power." They instruct us that "a statesman is answerable to public opinion or to the law only for his public acts." (Emphasis added.)
As this stirring petition was being circulated, another defender of this persecuted president also attacked the press for contributing to Clinton's ordeal. As the champagne glasses were being refilled at a Hollywood fundraiser, Barbra Streisand charged that American journalists no longer "respect the boundaries between public and private behavior."
Let us look at just a few of the president's public acts that are part of the impeachment inquiry and which will lead, I believe, to actual impeachment. Committing perjury before a federal grand jury, as Clinton is revealed to have done, is not a private act, no matter the private behavior being lied about. And perjury is the most dangerous of all public acts because it can hide all other crimes.
Most repellent is what Bill Clinton has done to Paula Jones. Not, as she alleges, in Little Rock. That hasn't been proved yet. But Jones went to court to have her case heard. That was her right, as it is yours and mine.
Paula Jones also had the right to due process--fairness. In his deposition in her case, Clinton committed perjury, thereby, as The Washington Post has said in an editorial, corrupting the evidence in her suit and subverting Paula Jones's right to a fair hearing.
It doesn't matter that his lie, in that deposition, was about his sexual acts with Monica Lewinsky. As the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, Clinton placed himself above the law to save himself. By doing that, he obstructed justice.
There are other counts of perjury and obstruction of justice against Clinton. Clinton is a serial violator of other peoples' constitutional rights.
Also, this leader of the free world lied to his cabinet and to his faithful retainers in the White House, and then deliberately sent them forth to lie publicly to the rest of us.
The international illuminati now coming to Clinton's rescue insist that all of the president's desperate deceptions of his beloved American people are due to the "inquisitorial harassment" of Inspector Javert, a/k/a Kenneth Starr. The independent prosecutor presumably forced the president to go against his better nature.
Ronald Rotunda, a constitutional law professor at the University of Illinois, makes plain this part of the case against Clinton: "If the president can perjure himself with no consequences, is there really a basis then for saying he is covered by any law?" (Censure won't do and, in any case, is an unconstitutional bill of attainder because there hasn't been a trial. Resignation will do fine.)
By the way, the literary figures who are marshaling support for this president ignore the fact that he tried fiercely to get the Supreme Court to uphold the Communications Decency Act, which would have removed from the Internet anything "indecent" and therefore not fit for children. This is not grounds for impeachment, but it further illuminates what Jesse Jackson said to me before he became Clinton's spiritual adviser. "He is a hollow man," Jackson told me. "He has no principles he'll fight for if they'll cost him popularity."
At about the same time the international luminaries issued their pro-Clinton manifesto, The New Yorker assembled a herd of literary minds to defend the president. Among them was Toni Morrison, who charges that "the president is being stolen from us." The "bootsteps of the Independent Counsel," she adds, have trampled on his privacy. Jackboots?
As for privacy, this is the president who tried mightily to get Congress to give the FBI the power to use "roving wiretaps"--in other words, to listen in on any phone a targeted person might use. And no warrant would have been required. That is a direct subversion of the Fourth Amendment. "Roving wiretaps," by the way, can be used in bedrooms.
Also in The New Yorker, Jane Smiley tells us that what- ever happened in the Oval Office showed "at the very least" the president's "desire to make a connection with another person . . . this desire to connect is something I trust."