This week's discussion of George W. Bush's failure to be forthcoming about a 1976 DUI arrest raises familiar questions about honesty, the rule of law, and the public relevance of a politician's past, private conduct. Take a moment to reflect on the current debacle in light of the 1998 debate over the impeachment of President Clinton.

Bangkok, Thailand (from a U.S. Citizen): If you were being investigated, and dark secrets of your past surfaced (for example 15 years ago) which showed you were not as honest as you would have us believe -- would you resign?

Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.): My concern is not some "deep dark secret" from Mr. Clinton's past of 15 years ago, but abuse of office in his current capacity as president of this country. For this, he needs to be held accountable. You or I would be, why should not the President?
April 10, 1998, on via live chat

"When you have a president that in my opinion has cheated on his wife, he will cheat on the American people. When you have a president that can't tell the truth about his mistakes and own up to them, he won't be able to tell the truth to the American people. And he hasn't."
Rep. Tom DeLay, March 28, 1998

"I believe that the president could have lessened the harm his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky has caused if he had acknowledged his mistake and spoken with candor about it to the American people shortly after it became public in January. But, as we now know, he chose not to do this.

This deception is particularly troubling because it was not just a reflexive and, in many ways, understandable human act of concealment to protect himself and his family from what he called the embarrassment of his own conduct when he was confronted with it in the deposition in the Jones case, but rather it was the intentional and premeditated decision to do so."
Sen. Joseph Lieberman on the Senate floor, September 3, 1998

"I teach children," said Donald Jackson, 36, of Easton, Pa. "They look up to me. I see children imitating what I do. Whether or not I like that role, or accept that role, it is there. Many kids look up to the president and say, 'I want to be president.' Look at the presidency now," he said. "Is this what they want to be like?"
Quoted in The Washington Post, September 11, 1998

"And the most important thing about that is not that I can say, oh, thank God I'm not the only sinner in the world. Rather, it is that I can believe in the reality of atonement and ultimately of forgiveness...."
President Clinton to The Washington Post, September 27, 1998

No, if the president has lied about sex with Lewinsky, he should now tell the truth because his honesty will better serve his nation and himself. If the country reacts positively to his truth-telling, as can reasonably be expected, he will be better positioned to govern than he is now.
Fred Branfman, on, August 6, 1998

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus