The Truth and Nothing But Lies
by Victoria Toensing

It’s so confusing.  Some basic truths spilled into the Cuisinart and got all mixed up.

Sexual Harassment is Bad: Long ago, like 1997, I was told if a General had an extra-marital affair, not a wham-bang-thank-you-ma’am, but a long term caring relationship ended a decade ago, he could not be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.  Without doubt, Republican Senator Bob Packwood who sexually accosted female staffers resigned from office.  Now I know that if a 50 year-old woman enters the office of the President to ask for a  job, he can grab her breast and crotch and force a kiss on her, and it should be nobody’s business if Hillary doesn’t mind.

Telling a Lie is a Sin: That’s what the nuns taught me in Catholic grade school in Columbus, Indiana.  Now I know the test is not whether one lies, but how well one does so.  Responding to Jim Lehrer’s question about whether he had a sexual relationship with a 21 year-old intern, the President used a clenched voice and only the present tense “There is no….”  He dodged the question whether he had asked anyone to lie under oath.  “Terrible performance” echoed the critics.  Days later, Bill appeared in the Roosevelt Room.  This time, with a clenched fist and a practiced voice, he jabbed at TV cameras declaring “I did not have sexual relations with that woman…I never told anybody to lie, not a single time.”  Ahhhhhhhh.  We can all feel better,  “Superb performance” extolled the previous chiders.  “We believe him.  He looked us straight in the eye and forcefully denied all.”  Now I’ve got it.  ‘Tis not the telling of the falsehood but how superbly we perform by which God will decide our fate on Judgment Day.

Asking Someone to Commit Perjury is a Crime: I am certain this was the law when I was a Prosecutor in the 1980’s.  Back then if Monica Lewinsky had asked a “friend” to testify falsely under oath, and she feared a White House trashing if she did not comply, it would have been reasonable for self-protection to tape Monica’s requests to commit a felony.  Not today.  Now there are three Hobbesian choices: commit perjury, get trashed surreptitiously by the White House, or get trashed publicly for taping a “friend.” 

If the President asked Monica not to tell all, White House surrogates now imply, it is not obstructing justice but excusable because it is none of our business whom he has sex with, certainly if Hillary doesn’t mind.

The Independent Counsel Law is Good Public Policy: I was a Republican openly critical of the IC Law when only Republicans were targets.  My concern was not only that good people would not want to enter government service, but also that the Law, which provides for unfettered power directed at one targeted individual, could be triggered by so little evidence.  When I complained that Judge Lawrence Walsh had taken over 6 years and spent more than $40 million dollars to investigate Iran Contra I was countered by Democrats who loved the Law; it was, they argued, the only way to keep corrupt officials at bay.  Now we know, after Ken Starr has taken over 3 years and spent $25 million dollars, that it all depends on whether the targeted officials are Republicans or Democrats.  On this weekend’s Sunday talk shows, Democrats borrowed the Republicans’ old script in calling for the Law’s demise.  Sen. Bob Kerrey told Don Imus this week that the Law is the problem, not Ken Starr.

It’s like my Uncle Harry used to say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out the Cuisinart.”






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