The Impeachment of the President of the USA - Part IIIWritten by Sam Vaknin
AC : “Dysfunctional partnerships should be dissolved. The President should have divorced prior to indulging his sexual appetite. Sexual exclusivity is an integral – possibly most important – section of marriage contract. The President ignored his vows, dishonoured his word, breached his contract with First Lady.”
DC : “People stay together only if they feel that foundation upon which they based their relationship is still sound. Mr. Clinton and Mrs. Clinton redefined their marriage to exclude sexual exclusivity, an impossibility under circumstances. But they did not exclude companionship and friendship. It is here that President may have sinned, in lying to his best friend, his wife. Adultery is committed only when a party strays out of confines of marital contract. I postulate that President was well within his agreement with Mrs. Clinton when he sought sexual gratification elsewhere.”
AC : “Adultery is a sin not only against partner. The marriage contract is signed by three parties : man, woman and God between them. The President sinned against God. This cannot be ameliorated by any human approval or permission. Whether his wife accepted him as he is and disregarded his actions – is irrelevant. And if you are agnostic or an atheist, still you can replace word ‘God’ by words ‘Social Order’. President Clinton’s behaviour undermines foundations of our social order. The family is basic functional unit and its proper functioning is guaranteed by security of sexual and emotional exclusivity. To be adulterous is to rebel against civilization. It is an act of high social and moral treason.”
DC : “While I may share your nostalgia – I am compelled to inform you that even nostalgia is not what it used to be. There is no such thing as ‘The Family’. There are a few competing models, some of them involving only a single person and his or her offspring. There is nothing to undermine. The social order is in such a flux that it is impossible to follow, let alone define or capture. Adultery is common. This could be a sign of times – or victory of honesty and openness over pretension and hypocrisy. No one can cast a stone at President Clinton in this day and age.”
AC : “But that's precisely it ! The President is not a mirror, a reflection of popular will. Our President is a leader with awesome powers. These powers were given to him to enable him to set example, to bear a standard – to be a standard. I do demand of my President to be morally superior to me – and this is no hypocrisy. This is a job description. To lead, a leader needs to inspire shame and guilt through his model. People must look up to him, wish they were like him, hope, dream, aspire and conspire to be like him. A true leader provokes inner tumult, psychological conflicts, strong emotions – because he demands impossible through instance of his personality. A true leader moves people to sacrifice because he is worthy of their sacrifice, because he deserves it. He definitely does not set an example of moral disintegration, recklessness, short-sightedness and immaturity. The President is given unique power, status and privileges – only because he has been recognized as a unique and powerful and privileged individual. Whether such recognition has been warranted or not is what determines quality of presidency.”
DC : “Not being a leader, or having been misjudged by voters to be one – do not constitute impeachable offences. I reject your view of presidency. It is too fascist for me, it echoes with despicable Fuhrerprinzip. A leader is no different from people that elected him. A leader has strong convictions shared by majority of his compatriots. A leader also has energy to implement solutions that he proposes and willingness to sacrifice certain aspects of his life (like his privacy) to do so. If a leader is a symbol of his people – then he must, in many ways, be like them. He cannot be as alien as you make him out to be. But then, if he is alien by virtue of being superior or by virtue of being possessed of superhuman qualities – how can we, mere mortals, judge him ? This is logical fallacy in your argument : if President is a symbol, then he must be very much similar to us and we should not subject him to a judgement more severe than one meted to ourselves. If President is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, or otherwise, superhuman – then he is above our ability to judge. And if President is a standard against whom we should calibrate our lives and actions – then he must reflect mores of his times, kaleidoscopic nature of society that bred him, flux of norms, conventions, paradigms and doctrines which formed society which chose him. A standard too remote, too alien, too detached – will not do. People will ignore it and revert to other behavioural benchmarks and normative yardsticks. The President should, therefore, be allowed to be “normal”, he should be forgiven. After all forgiveness is as prominent a value as being truthful.
The Impeachment of the President of the USA - Part IWritten by Sam Vaknin
In hallways of Smithsonian, two moralists are debating impeachment of President of United States of America, Mr. William Jefferson Clinton. One is clearly Anti-Clinton (AC) other, a Democrat (DC), is not so much for him as he is for rational and pragmatic application of moral principles.
AC (expectedly): “The President should be impeached”.
DC (no less expectedly) ; “But, surely, even you are not trying to imply that he has committed high crimes and misdemeanours, as Constitution demands as grounds for impeachment of a sitting President !”
AC : “But I do. Perjury is such a high crime because it undermines very fabric of trust between fellow citizens and between citizen and system of justice, courts.”
DC : “A person is innocent until proven guilty. No sound proof of perjurious conduct on behalf of President has been provided as yet. Perjurious statements have to be deliberate and material. Even if President deliberately lied under oath – his lies were not material to a case, which was later dismissed on grounds of a lack of legal merit. Legal hairsplitting and jousting are an integral part of defence in most court cases, civil and criminal. It is a legitimate – and legal – component of any legal battle, especially one involving interpretations, ambiguous terminology and substantiation of intentions. The President should not be denied procedural and substantive rights available to all other citizens of his country. Nor should he be subjected to a pre-judgment of his presumed guilt.”
AC : “This, precisely, is why an impeachment trial by Senate is called for. It is only there that President can credibly and rigorously establish his innocence. All I am saying is that IF President is found by Senate to have committed perjury – he should be impeached. Wherever legal hairsplitting and jousting is permissible as a legal tactic – it should and will be made available to President. As to pre-judgment by Press – I agree with you, there is no place for it but, then, in this President has been treated no differently than others. The pertinent fact is that perjury is a high misdemeanour, in least, that is, an impeachable offence.”
DC : “It was clearly not intention of Fathers of our Constitution to include perjury in list of impeachable offences. Treason is more like it. Moreover, to say that President will receive a fair trial from hands of his peers in Senate – is to lie. The Senate and its committees is a political body, heavily tilted, currently, against President. No justice can be had where politics rears its ugly head. Bias and prejudice will rule this mock trial.”
AC : “Man is a political animal, said Greek philosophers of antiquity. Where can you find an assembly of people free of politics ? What is this discourse that we are having if not a political one ? Is not Supreme Court of land a politically appointed entity ? The Senate is no better and no worse, it is but a mirror, a reflection of combined will of people. Moreover, in pursuing procedures of impeachment – Senate will have proved its non-political mettle in this case. The nation, in all opinion polls, wants this matter dropped. If it is not – it is a proof of foresight and civil courage, of leadership and refusal to succumb to passing fads.”
DC : “And what about my first argument – that perjury, even once proven, was not considered by authors of Constitution to have been an impeachable offence ?”
AC : “The rules of land – even Constitution – are nothing but an agreement between those who subscribe to it and for as long as they do. It is a social contract, a pact. Men – even authors of Constitution - being mortal, relegated right to amend it and to interpret it to future generations. The Constitution is a vessel, each generation fills it as it sees fit. It is up to us to say what current meaning this document harbours. We are not to be constrained by original intentions of authors. These intentions are meaningless as circumstances change. It is what we read into Constitution that forms its specific contents. With changing mores and values and with passage of events – each generation generates its own version of this otherwise immortal set of principles.”
DC : “I find it hard to accept that there is no limit to this creative deconstruction. Surely it is limited by common sense, confined to logic, subordinate to universal human principles. One can stretch meanings of words only thus far. It takes a lot of legal hairsplitting to bring perjury – not proven yet – under one roof with treason.”
AC : “Let us ignore legal issues and leave them to their professionals. Let us talk about what really bothers us all, including you, I hope and trust. This President has lied. He may have lied under oath, but he definitely lied on television and in spacious rooms of White House. He lied to his family, to his aides, to nation, to Congress …”
DC : “For what purpose do you enumerate them ?”
AC : “Because it is one thing to lie to your family and another thing to lie to Congress. A lie told to nation, is of a different magnitude altogether. To lie to your closest aides and soi dissant confidantes – again is a separate matter …”