Monday, October 24, 2005

On perjury

The blogosphere is amused by Kay Bailey Hutchison's defense of perjury. We can expect a lot of this, as evidenced by the similar minimization of perjury or obstruction of justice by MIchael Barone, and Billy Kristol's sudden confusion about what constitutes a crime at all.

I thought I'd hit Lexis Nexis and see what people were saying once upon a time.
My favorite so far is this quip from the RNC convention by Missouri's Kit Bond, who the St. Louis Post-Dispatch spotted on the convention floor on August 4, 2000 "declaring that Bush had shown that it was possible to have 'prosperity without perjury.'" Or vice versa, I suppose.
Here's a piece from the Times Magazine about Newt Gingrich (dating from October 29, 2000, just under 5 years ago).

Gingrich views impeachment as yet another crusade that had to be waged no matter the outcome. … "Neither our base nor our principles would have tolerated giving the President a pass on perjury," he says, referring to the deposition in which Clinton said he did not have a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Gingrich says that he found it "astonishing" that leading Democrats simply rallied to the president's side, while during President Nixon's impeachment drama prominent Republicans like Howard Baker "put their country ahead of their party." When I pointed out that few Democrats considered Clinton's misdeeds commensurate with Nixon's, Gingrich said, "The question is, What do you think the precedent is of allowing a sitting president to lie under oath to a federal judge and a federal grand jury, and whether you think as a precedent for the future that moves you a step closer to Nigeria and Indonesia." … He considers himself a victim of partisan politics; he considers President Clinton an unprincipled liar and a threat to national security. "A leader about whom you never know anything in terms of the truth," he says solemnly, "is a very serious problem in a free society."
While this isn't anything specific, a USA Today story on the campaign quotes Karl Rove saying of the Bush campaign strategy: "He also recognized that voters wanted a candidate who could change the way things are in Washington," a reference to this part of the stump speech:

He ended his speeches by holding his right hand up as if he were taking the oath of office, pledging to restore dignity to the White House.
That was always seen as a dig at the perjury scandal. Somehow, I don't think that voters wanted to escalate the problem from lying about oral sex to lying about treason and espionage.

In a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report on the RNC convention in August, 2000:

While placing a gag order on the topic of impeachment, the Bush campaign made Clinton fatigue the subtext of the convention. When Cheney… spoke … the effort to saddle Gore with the baggage of Bill Clinton flashed through in a single slashing sentence: "We will never see one without thinking of the other."

Bush picked up this critique in his own speech.

"To lead a nation to a responsibility era, a president himself must be responsible. . . . I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God," he said.
And who can forget Bush's ringing insistence that Cheney "is a man who knows what the definition of 'is' is." By this, he clearly meant to contrast Cheney's grasp of simple verbs with more complex ideas like "classified," or "secret."

There's more, but Lexis Nexis is frustrating.