Friday, June 20, 2003

Is an honest presidency important?

To Republican Senators, it depends on what the definition of is is.

First, go read this article which shows how the Bushies misused and altered intelligence to support a war in Iraq.

Then read these quotes, taken from the statements of US Senators after they voted to impeach Bill Clinton.

“It is hard to imagine that a generation or two ago, a majority of Americans would have greeted news of Presidential crimes and cover-ups with a shrug.”

-Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS)

“The President's lawyers invoke this line, but they misread it. They argue that what it means is that to require removal, a President's conduct must involve misuse of official power.

“But that is not what the Constitution demands, or what Hamilton's comment fairly read suggests. Otherwise we would have to leave in office a President or a federal judge who committed murder, so long as they did not use any powers of their office in doing so. Rather, as Hamilton's language connotes, and our own precedents confirm, the connection the Constitution requires between the official's actions and functions is a more practical one: the official's conduct must demonstrate that he or she cannot be trusted with the powers of the office in question. This rule encompasses official acts demonstrating unfitness for the office in question, but it also reaches beyond such acts.

“We need not determine the outer limits of its principle to decide the question before us today: whether the President's actions here constitute a violation of a "public trust" as Hamilton uses the term. The answers to that question is plain when we consider his conduct in relation to his responsibilities.”

-Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI)

“Last December, on the eve of the House impeachment vote, President Clinton ordered air strikes on Iraq. The result is murky at best, the reasons unclear.

“Each time the President has acted, charges of "wag the dog" have reverberated around the globe. Whether those charges are true or false is no longer material. What is material is that the President of the United States is not credible. He is not trusted. He cannot act in the best interest of America.

“He has lost the moral mantle of leadership.

“He has selfishly placed this nation in jeopardy.

“It is precisely this kind of situation, I am convinced, that worried America's founding fathers as they devised the impeachment mechanism to remove a sitting president whose actions endangered the republic.”

-Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)

“Any discretion that exists in the constitutional framework to refuse to act in the face of impeachable offenses lies in the House of Representatives. The law has long recognized the legitimacy of prosecutorial discretion. But the law has also long criticized jury nullification. Unlike a normal jury, the Senate has the power to determine both law and facts. What it lacks is the raw power to refuse to convict in the face of law and facts that both support conviction.”

-Sen. John Ashcroft (R-MO)

“It is precisely in good times, with the President high in the polls, that it is incumbent upon the Senate to exercise very thoroughly and carefully the responsibility under the Constitution to make the difficult decision on whether the President has committed high-crimes and misdemeanors warranting his removal from office. If we are to have a government of laws and not of men and not of public opinion polls, then we must judge the President on the evidence presented to us. I believe that the acts that he committed constitute high-crimes and misdemeanors warranting his conviction.”

-Sen. Christopher (Kit) Bond (R-MO)

“I remember the first question my then nine-year-old son, Colin, asked me 17 years ago when I told him I was going to run for public office. He asked, ‘Dad, are you going to lie and stuff?’

“I told him, ‘No.’ I don't have to learn how to lie--I still remembered how to lie from my delinquent days. I'm still trying to forget it.

“I told him, human frailties not withstanding, elected officials should not ‘lie and stuff.’”

- Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO)

“But I would submit that if a generation of young people are taught by our actions in this case that a lie carries no consequences, then the nation is at risk. If our citizens conclude that lawlessness in the highest office is acceptable, that their elected representatives are complicit in that corruption, and that nothing can be done to stop it, then the nation is at risk. If future presidents think they can go further in lying or obstruction of justice when they apply the 'Clinton Indicator,' then the nation is at risk. If the Executive Office of the President is occupied by an individual who is generally believed to have lied and betrayed the public trust--if the symbol, the icon of the presidency is compromised, the nation is at risk.”

-Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID)

"What holds this Nation, this society, this culture, together? Yes, laws are part of it. But it is really the strong moral foundation anchored by values and standards--the individual sense of right and wrong, personal responsibility, accountability for one's actions. This is what holds a free people together. Respect for each other--not because a law dictates that action--but rather because it's the right thing to do."

-Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)

"No, an ordinary citizen would not be treated as the President has been treated. But ordinary citizens don't enforce the laws for the rest of us. Ordinary citizens don't have the world's mightiest armed forces at their command. Ordinary citizens do not usually have the opportunity to be figures of historical importance.

"Presidents are not ordinary citizens. They are extraordinary, in that they are vested with so much more authority and power than the rest of us. We have a right; indeed, we have an obligation, to hold them strictly accountable to the rule of law."

-Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)

"My wife and I have been married 40 years. I have a thing called the wife test. You go home and when you want to get an opinion that is totally apolitical, you ask your wife. So I went home and I presented the case--as explained so eloquently by the White House lawyers and others--on why we could have a lower standard of conduct for a President than we have for a judge. And I know the argument. And I expressed the argument to my wife in the kitchen. I said, there are a thousand judges, only one President. I went through the whole thing. Then she looked up and said, 'I thought the President appointed the judges.' You know, my wife is so dumb, she is always asking me questions I can't answer.

"But I really believe that in this case we are getting at the truth. I really believe that the President of the United States should be held to the very highest of standards.

"You know, Winston Churchill said: 'Truth is incontrovertible. Ignorance may deride it, panic may resent it, malice may destroy it, but there it is.'

"I think we have seen the truth. And I think the final truth is that this President should be held to the very highest of standards.

"Sometimes when I am not really sure I am right, I consult my best friend. His name is Jesus. And I asked that question. Now I will quote to you the response that is found in Luke: 'From one who has been entrusted with more, much more will be asked.'

"Mr. Chief Justice, I think Jesus is right."

-Sen. James Inhofe(R-OK)

"Rather than give in to easy cynicism, we should work toward integrity and responsibility in all that we do. We must remind our children that telling the truth and accepting responsibility for wrongdoing are virtues with currency. Our nation's future depends on how earnestly we fulfill that shared duty."

-Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN)

I'll bet Senator Inhofe's best friend is getting mightily pissed right about now.

P.S.: If anyone asks you if falsifying intelligence is important, show them this page.


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