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The Clinton/Spitzer Comparison:
Over at the Right Coast, Mike Rappaport compares the misconduct and the public reaction to it of Bill Clinton in 1998 and Elliot Spitzer today:
I am sure that I have missed it, but I haven't seen anyone comparing the misdeeds of [Bill Clinton and Elliot Spitzer]. Clinton engaged in sex with an intern and then lied about it under oath. Spitzer engaged in sex with a prostitute, which is illegal. Which one is worse? Spitzer gets the boot, and Clinton is a hero to a lot of people. I know there are distinctions, but what are the morally and legally relevant ones? Here is one: Many people believe that prostitution should be legal; no one believes that perjury should be legal.
  I look at this differently. I don't know if Spitzer should "get the boot" for what he did, but I tend to think that these two cases are different on at least four grounds: first, the alleged crimes themselves; second, the differences between governors and Presidents; third, what the reports taught us about the two men; and fourth, the political context of the offenses and the investigation.

  First, consider the differences in the alleged crimes themselves. Based on what we know so far, Spitzer's crimes appear to include structuring, violations of the Mann Act, and perhaps other crimes. In contrast, I've never been sure that Clinton's false statements actually amounted to perjury; the crime of perjury requires materiality, and I'm not sure Clinton's false statements were material in context. See generally Alan Heinrich, Clinton's Little White Lies: The Materiality Requirement for Perjury in Civil Discovery, 32 Loyola L.A. L. Rev. 1303 (1999).

  Second, I would think that the difference between a Governor and a President matters. State Governors come and go, but replacing a Commander-in-Chief of the United States is a pretty big deal. Keep in mind that the Lewinsky scandal broke just about the same time that Al Qaeda declared war on the United States. With the Islamofascists on the attack, it was arguably an odd time to try to bring instability to the United States by impeaching the Commander-in-Chief. (Although I don't recall many Republicans being particularly concerned about this at the time.)

  Third, consider what the stories have taught us about the two men. The news about Spitzer came as a surprise; it was very much contrary to Spitzer's image. In contrast, everyone knew of Bill Clinton's infidelities before he was elected President. People didn't like it, and for a while in 1992 it looked the issue would sink his candidacy. But those who voted for Clinton factored his personal weaknesses into their assessment of him before casting their vote.

  Finally, the political context matters. Right now there is no sign that the case against Spitzer was politically motivated. There's speculation, but right now it looks like Spitzer caused his own fall. In contrast, the case against Clinton had strong elements of a partisan set-up. My recollection is that a number of Clinton's political enemies helped encourage the lawsuit against Clinton to get him under oath so he would lie or otherwise embarrass himself. And the folks who investigated him were unusually likely to be politically active members of the opposite party, many of whom personally despised Clinton and wanted him out.

  As I said, I don't know if Spitzer should get the boot; I don't live in New York, and I see that as a question for New Yorkers. But I think there are important differences between the two cases.
Vermando (mail) (www):
Wow. That was A+ quality slapping around the issues. And what snark! Really a strong effort there - top quality stuff.
3.12.2008 1:13am
tvk:
Some additional thoughts:

1. Nobody thinks that perjury should be legal. But also nobody thinks that you should be able to get the President under oath just to ask embarrassing questions. I am not saying that is a-ok to lie under oath just because the question is totally unjustified; but it is a mitigating factor. This ties in with the materiality point Orin made; but the crux of it is that Americans could generally sympathize as to why Clinton lied.

2. The major criticism of Spitzer that I've seen in the media is not the affair itself; it is the hypocrisy. If Spitzer hadn't been prosecuting prostitution rings and running more generally on a moral crusade platform, his fall wouldn't be as hard.
3.12.2008 1:13am
McGrath (mail):
It seems to me that an even better comparison is between Spitzer and David Vitter, the Senator (R-La) who was caught up in the DC Madam scandal. Vitter is still serving, as far as I know. The biggest difference I can see is that Spitzer is the chief executive of his state and will be linked with every action the NY executive takes. Legislators can choose to have a lower profile. That's a practical distinction, though, and not one that I find theoretically compelling.
3.12.2008 1:36am
Gary Imhoff (mail) (www):
Judge Susan Weber Wright, in the Paula Jones lawsuit over sexual harrassment, that, "Simply put, the president's deposition testimony regarding whether he had ever been alone with Ms. (Monica) Lewinsky was intentionally false and his statements regarding whether he had ever engaged in sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky likewise were intentionally false." She fined him $90,000 for contempt because of his false testimony. The Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct agreed to suspend Clinton's license to practice law for five years, and the US Supreme Court disbarred Clinton from practicing before it, because of his intentionally false testimony. Clinton defenders may quibble over whether intentionally lying in a deposition is perjury, but that is quibbling.

The Clintons' defense line that Bill Clinton's troubles stemmed from the vast right wing's conspiracy against him, rather than from his long history of using and abusing women; that oral sex isn't sex; and that lying about sex isn't sex were all as shabby as his original offenses; I'm surprised that Orin credits them.

If Hillary Clinton were to give advice to Silla Spitzer, it would have to be to hire Sid Blumental to help her smear the prostitutes her husband had hired (though how do you smear a prostitute? Claim she wasn't worth the money?), attack and smear the prosecutors, and claim the whole scandal was caused by Spitzer's Republican opponents. In fact, left-wing blogs are already spreading the story that the Bush Justice Department instigated the investigation to get rid of a strong Democratic governor. There will be more parallels in the days to come, if Spitzer doesn't get a favorable plea bargain in exchange for a quick resignation.
3.12.2008 1:39am
Lev:

But also nobody thinks that you should be able to get the President under oath just to ask embarrassing questions.


It is worth noting that at the Paula Jones deposition, Federal District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright was present, in charge, and making rulings. She ruled the questions asked of Clinton re "others" were in order.

It is also worth noting, that the questions were consistent with changes to Federal Statutory Law, signed into law by Clinton, that in sexual harassment lawsuits permitted inquiry into other instances of sexual harassment and misconduct with subordinate employees, of which Lewinsky was one.

Judge Wright never ruled that the questions asked of Clinton at the Paula Jones deposition were material or immaterial, and she said exactly that in a footnote in one of her rulings.
3.12.2008 1:46am
Jim at FSU (mail):
I think it comes down to hypocrisy and lack of political motivation to account for the charges. Spitzer was caught by his own personal witch hunting techniques and has been hoisted by his own petard.

On top of this, it seems that nearly everyone in NY state hated his guts by this point and is secretly glad to see him implode. It is now becoming apparent he had something of a nasty temper problem and didn't play well with others.
3.12.2008 1:47am
OrinKerr:
Clinton defenders may quibble over whether intentionally lying in a deposition is perjury, but that is quibbling.

I am not a Clinton defender. But given that his critics tend to make the case against him on the ground that committed the crime of perjury, the significant argument that he did not actually commit the crime of perjury seems a bit more than "quibbling."
3.12.2008 1:50am
z9z99:
Here's a distinction:

When the framers set up the American government, they borrowed the English notion of "high misdemeanors" as grounds for impeaching the executive. Blackstones commentaries described high misdemeanors as


THE firft and principal is the mal-adminiftration of fuch high officers, as are in public truft and employment. This is ufually punifhed by the method of parliamentary impeachment: wherein fuch penalties, fhort of death, are inflicted, as to the wifdom of the houfe of peers fhall feem proper; confifting ufually of banifhment, imprifonment, fines, or perpetual difability. Hitherto alfo may be referred the offence of imbezzling the
public money, called among the Romans peculatus, which the Julian law punifhed with death in a magiftrate, and with deportation, or banifhment, in a private perfon k. With us it is not a capital crime, but fubjects the committer of it to a difcretionary fine and imprifonment. Other mifprifions are, in general, fuch contempts of the executive magiftrate, as demonftrate themfelves by fome arrogant and undutiful behaviour towards the king and government.


Soliciting a prostitute in violation of the law would seem to qualify as "some arrogant and undutiful behavior towards...the government." Thus, it would seem that Governor Spitzer's indiscretions are precisely the types of lapses that the founders had in mind when they adopted the standards to remove an executive from office.

President Clinton's semantic evasions are arguably of a different type. This appears to have been understood, not only by the Senate that tried Clinton's impeachment, but by contemporaries of the founders. See, for instance the handling of Alexander Hamilton's extramarital affair, which, like Spitzer's problems were discovered in investigation of suspected bribery.
3.12.2008 1:57am
Alec:
Much like right-wing blogs were accusing Democrats and the media of being homophobic in the wake of the Mark Foley scandal, Gary?

I think Governor Spitzer's situation is pretty different from President Clinton's. The investigations into the Clintons were relentless, but it was really only the act of investigation itself that proved damaging to the president.

I also think that prosecutors (former or otherwise) probably should be held to a higher standard anyway. The fact that his critics perceived him to be a bully is not really surprising; prosecutors are perceived that way for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, I don't think that Wall Street was accustomed to that kind of attention. At least, not from the state AG. President Clinton was largely on the defensive throughout his administration, while Governor Spitzer has by most accounts been aggressive.
3.12.2008 2:05am
Truth Seeker:
Last time I said O.K. never said anything tht wasn't anti-Bush or anti-republican. Now I'll note that he's clearly pro-Clinton. What is this guy doing here???
3.12.2008 2:13am
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
z9z99: I realize you're copying from a website, but OCR laziness is not a good reason to present the old Blackstone-era "long S" as a lower case 'f'. It hurts the eyes to read such stuff.
3.12.2008 2:20am
Mark Creatura:
OK - I don't believe there is any such person as the Commander-in-Chief of the United States. Do the United States have a commander? The constitution of the United States designates the president as the commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia when called into actual service. That's a long way short of being commander of the United States.

Maybe we can go light on creeping monarchism, okay?
3.12.2008 2:23am
Liberal Laura:

In contrast, I've never been sure that Clinton's false statements actually amounted to perjury; the crime of perjury requires materiality, and I'm not sure Clinton's false statements were material in context.

Well this point is almost moot. Clinton was granted immunity by Independent Counsel Robert Ray in exchange for 1) surrendering his law license and 2) admitting that he intentionally lied under oath for the purpose of obscuring a pattern of behavior that would have undermined his primary defense against Paula Jones's suit--namely that he was above having a liaison with someone of her (low) station.
3.12.2008 2:26am
wuzzagrunt (mail):
Lev wrote:

But also nobody thinks that you should be able to get the President under oath just to ask embarrassing questions.


It is worth noting that at the Paula Jones deposition, Federal District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright was present, in charge, and making rulings. She ruled the questions asked of Clinton re "others" were in order.

It is also worth noting, that the questions were consistent with changes to Federal Statutory Law, signed into law by Clinton, that in sexual harassment lawsuits permitted inquiry into other instances of sexual harassment and misconduct with subordinate employees, of which Lewinsky was one.

Even though I firmly believe the SC majority had lost their collective minds, in letting Paula Jones' civil suit go forward, you do make a fair point. Even if WJC believed he stood a good chance of prevailing on the question of materiality, it's still a very high stakes gamble to cover up something that, while embarrassing, was perfectly legal. The interesting question (to me) is what would he have done to cover up an actual crime?

That's a serious question re Spitzer, and why his case needs to be treated differently than if he were just some mook who engaged a hooker for his frat brother's bachelor party.

I think a president, governor, or senator should be held to a higher standard because of power they are given, and the public trust they hold. Quaint notion, no? Ultimately (and unfortunately IMO) what's to be done about it is a political question.
3.12.2008 2:30am
tgiw (mail):
Even though I'm a Republican and did not care much for Bill Clinton and still don't, I thought that the whole pursuit of Clinton by a series of independent prosecutors was a terrible mistake, and harmful to the country.

(And it was Scalia who had said in the 80's, alone among the Sup Ct Justices, that an independent prosecutor as envisioned by its proponents was unconstitutional due to the potential for abuse.)

So add another difference between Spitzer and Clinton. Spitzer was caught by a very legitimate investigation that was not originally targeting him personally. His bank noticed suspicious activity and turned over the information, and it coincided with an investigation into a prostitution ring. Spitzer is simply a high profile public official whose involvement was exposed, but there was no prosecutor hounding him from the beginning.

Clinton was being pursued for violations of the law related to the Whitewater scandal, which eventually transmogrified into the investigation into whether he lied about his sexual dalliances. What was the connection? Although I think Ken Starr was unfairly and inaccurately portrayed as a hyperpartisan Javert-type figure, the fact is that the prosecution of Clinton appeared politically motivated from the beginning. Starr might have been just doing his job, but there were many people encouraging him who were not really interested in what violations of the law occurred under Clinton, they were simply interested in bringing the man down.
3.12.2008 2:31am
OrinKerr:
Mark Creatura writes:

Maybe we can go light on creeping monarchism, okay?

Only if you gain an appreciation for irony.
3.12.2008 2:33am
George Weiss (mail) (www):
some responses

1. (your argument that Clinton may not have committed perjury becuase it was (perhaps not material to the Paula Jones suit)

a) need the house and senate which considered the impeachment of Clinton necessarily of had to care about whether the perjury met the statutory definition (including-whether it was material according to the courts' definition of materiality)? cant they impeach you for whatever they consider to be a high crime or misdemeanor?
And, similar to Clinton, Spitzer hasn't really been charged with a crime at all (at least yet..and if he is it will be a crime that people customers aren't usually charged for as customers-just like civil perjury is a crime people aren't usually charged for). either-its usually a more political consideration of guilt when you kick someone out of office..not a legal one

b) as you admit-its possible that Clinton's statement was perjury under some definitions of materiality.


2. (your argument that governors come and go-and removing a president is a much bigger deal-especially in Clinton's time

a) some new york governors, (including the two former governors before Spitzer, George Pataki and Mario Cuomo), served for over 10 years-much longer than a normal presidency (in fact the maximum it a p)resident could constitutionally serve now is 10 years with two terms and a mid term takeover as VP) and since there is no term limit-may serve for even longer than a president ever could...so-if your comparing governors to presidents-id say its the presidents that come and go.

b) Its easy to say in hindsight that al quada declaring war was a big deal-virtually nobody outside the presidents office or those with top security clearance (which i might be wrong but i don't think includes us legislators) might know that as a consideration in impeaching Clinton...most congressman and senators-quite rationally-probably veiwed Clinton's presidency as representing one of the most stable and economically prosperous time in US history. And even if they did know and view al quada as a big threat-maybe they felt a more responsible president who would crack down on terror (and not make dubious deals with china threating national security) was precisely what the country might need-perhaps, in hindsight-they were right

3. (argument that Clinton's behavior was less of a shock than Spitzer's becuase we knew we were putting a bit of a slime ball in office)

a) not entirely clear if it matters in terms of being impeached (or resigning) whether you expected this from the guy or not

b) we may have expected a little infidelity with Clinton-no way we expected oval office intern sex.

4. Set up??-he was forced to answer falsely?
3.12.2008 2:40am
OrinKerr:
Truth Seeker writes:
Last time I said O.K. never said anything tht wasn't anti-Bush or anti-republican. Now I'll note that he's clearly pro-Clinton. What is this guy doing here???
Of course, for every one like Truthseeker who is absolutely convinced that I am a reflexive anti-Bush, pro-Democrat hack, there is someone else who is absolutely convinced that I am a reflexive pro-Bush, ant-Democrat hack. See, e.g., the comments of "Barry" here and here.

I think "Truth Seeker" and "Barry" should meet up for a beer and settle this question once and for all.
3.12.2008 2:42am
CDU (mail) (www):
I think #3 is the big one here. With Clinton, voters pretty much knew what they were getting. Past allegations were aired out during the '92 campaign and Paula Jones' lawsuit was well known in '96.

Spitzer, on the other hand, sold himself as a crusader against powerful people who didn't feel they had to follow the rules. He sold himself to the voters of New York on the basis of his incorruptible "Elliot Ness" image. The gap between what voters thought they were getting and what they got is much wider in this case. I think their preexisting images, rather than distinctions about what they did, fuels a lot of the harsher reaction towards Spitzer.
3.12.2008 2:43am
John Herbison (mail):
I have long thought that President Clinton survived impeachment for two primary reasons: (1) the electorate knew that Clinton had zipper problems, as well as problems telling the complete truth, when we twice gave him a plurality of the vote, and (2) Clinton benefited from popular disapproval of his most virulent critics, such as Newt Gingrich and Kenneth Starr.

As Bill Maher then put it, what would Ken Starr think if everyone suddenly started asking questions about the time that he had sex?
3.12.2008 2:54am
neilalice:
I'm not a big fan of federal crimes, particularly federal drug crimes, and nothing Spitzer did makes me think we need more federal monetary or sex crimes. The Constitution sensibly didn't give Congress any police powers, and it's time to reevaluate just how criminal commerce really is. If there isn't a victim, there probably shouldn't be a crime.

As for Clinton, there's no excuse for an officer of the court to lie.
3.12.2008 2:57am
George Weiss (mail) (www):
i should add that the article you cite notes that the standard of materiality is much wider and inclusive when a federal grand jury is involved-and one of the impeachment articles that went to the senate included a grand jury offense (the article does not discuss this particular article of impeachment-as the article is focused on the definition of materiality when the perjury occurs in other contexts..particularly in the civil discovery context (an impeachment article that failed btw).and not on whether Clinton was guilty of anything at all
3.12.2008 3:02am
Mike& (mail):
Now I'll note that he's clearly pro-Clinton. What is this guy doing here???


Huh? Where did Kerr say anything pro-Clinton? I didn't see any defense of Clinton's actions.

Here is what's humorous. If you read his post with non-partisan eyes, you'd realize he was somewhat insulting towards Clinton. ("In contrast, everyone knew of Bill Clinton's infidelities before he was elected President.") That's sort of like saying, "He got a Lewinsky from an internet. What else would we have expected from Clinton?"

I hope Kerr never develops a pro-Mike bias! ("Yeah, he said something stupid. That's just Mike for you.")
3.12.2008 3:22am
Ken Arromdee:
Nobody thinks that perjury should be legal. But also nobody thinks that you should be able to get the President under oath just to ask embarrassing questions.

I was going to respond fully, but Lev did it first. Basically, I wouldn't blame Clinton much *except* that Clinton's role in cozying up to the feminist left makes it into hypocrisy, both for having sex with a subordinate at all, and for not cooperating with laws that he himself supported as long as they didn't apply to him.
3.12.2008 3:24am
U.Va. 3L:
[C]an't they impeach you for whatever they consider to be a high crime or misdemeanor?

Pretty much no one except Gerald Ford agrees with that, as the practical effect would be the President serving at the pleasure of the Senate and House. Doesn't exactly comport with the Constitution.

[H]ow do you smear a prostitute?

Perhaps I'm drawing an unfair inference, but I think that sentence speaks volumes.
3.12.2008 3:29am
OrinKerr:
Pretty much no one except Gerald Ford agrees with that, as the practical effect would be the President serving at the pleasure of the Senate and House. Doesn't exactly comport with the Constitution.

UVA3L, As a practical matter, though, isn't this likely a political question? For example, imagine Congress votes to impeach and remove the President because he dresses poorly and they think this is a "high crime." Imagine the President refuses to leave, and that leads to a lawsuit between the two branches over whether the President is still the President after the Congressional vote to remove him. In your view, would or should the Supreme Court rule on whether the removal was valid based on the Court's own assessment of whether Congress had properly identified a high crime? If not, Gerald Ford may be wrong in theory but right in any practical sense.
3.12.2008 3:35am
George Weiss (mail) (www):
U.VA 3L-the practical effect would be the President serving at the pleasure of the Senate and House

id say that is the current practical situation anyway-since there is no way the scotus would take up the issue of whether-after an impeachment-the official impeached actually did a high crime or misdemeanor- (they have even refused to take up procedural irregularities in the impeachment process eg nixon v us)
3.12.2008 3:42am
George Weiss (mail) (www):
ah geez the old he beat me to it
3.12.2008 3:42am
tvk:
1. Whether Judge Wright made the right legal call or not is not the issue here. The issue is purely political (since we are talking about two politicans' very different experiences). Basically, Clinton lied in a situation where the vast majority of Americans would also choose to lie. So it was understandable, and thus somewhat forgivable, even if neither legal nor right. It might not matter legally, and that legal rule might be completely correct from many levels, but it explains why Clinton's political standing remained.

2. As for the debate on serving at the pleasure of Congress, yes and no. Formalistically, Congress could impeach the president and there would be no judicial check on it. Formalistically, the Queen of England also is a supreme and total dictator. Regardless of your stance on originalism, it is a factual observation that there are traditions, political realities, and accepted conventions that are more important than judicial review in determining the actual operation of government. Our president is not expected to resign if he gets a veto overridden by Congress; the government of Great Britain would be.
3.12.2008 4:08am
George Weiss (mail) (www):
As for the debate on serving at the pleasure of Congress, yes and no. Formalistically, Congress could impeach the president and there would be no judicial check on it. Formalistically, the Queen of England also is a supreme and total dictator. Regardless of your stance on originalism, it is a factual observation that there are traditions, political realities, and accepted conventions that are more important than judicial review in determining the actual operation of government. Our president is not expected to resign if he gets a veto overridden by Congress; the government of Great Britain would be.

yes. it would look really bad for the congressman and senators that impeached on a silly thing like a parking ticket....and thats probably a greater deterrent than judicial review (note that democrats voted one way generally and republicans voted another way generally-the vote was tied to what they thought would make them look best politically)

bur in terms of orin's argument-it wouldn't look so bad for congress to argue that a certain thing was a high crime or misdemeanor despite the fact that it may not be statutorily a crime per se-particularly in Clinton's case-as it wasn't discussed at all in the media the technical details of the perjury

of course-perhapps this is partly becuase the only perjury that went tto the senate was the grand jury perjury-which as i said before has a much broader definition of materiality then is analyzed in the article orin cited....
3.12.2008 4:16am
Jagermeister:
My recollection is that a number of Clinton's political enemies helped encourage the lawsuit against Clinton to get him under oath so he would lie or otherwise embarrass himself.
Are you suggesting that Clinton could have claimed entrapment? Was Lewinsky a Republican plant?
3.12.2008 4:25am
Ted F (www):
Mike writes, paraphrasing Orin, "He got a Lewinsky from an [intern]. What else would we have expected from Clinton?"

The really ironic thing was that the intern was named Lewinsky; and Clinton got a Lewinsky from a Lewinsky. It's the greatest coincidence since Lou Gehrig came down with Lou Gehrig's disease.

Everyone leaves out a big difference, which is that Spitzer was immediately caught dead to rights and immediately admitted (some degree of) wrongdoing, while we'd still be hearing people smearing and accusing Lewinsky of making things up today if she hadn't saved the dress.

This, more than anything, saved Clinton, as it dissipated outrage over his conduct, because many people chose to believe his initial denial, so the full extent of the scandal broke out in dribs and drabs, and was ameliorated over that same time by the weird circumstances of the Paula Jones litigation, Linda Tripp, the hounding of Lewinsky into cooperating, and the perception that Starr had ranged too far from his original mission. If instead Lewinsky had come forward with audiotapes of phone-sex and the dress immediately, Clinton wouldn't have survived.
3.12.2008 5:22am
Mike& (mail):
I have no clue if this article is accurate.

Eliot Spitzer is going to resign his post as governor. Sources tell CBS 2 HD he's using the resignation as a bargaining chip with the feds. But after negotiating all day there was still no deal Tuesday night.

Spitzer doesn't have the luxury of playing deal or no deal. Experts agree that his involvement in a prostitution ring makes him damaged goods.

"I think his career is politically at an end," noted criminal defense attorney Ronald Fischetti told CBS 2 HD.

Sources tell CBS 2 HD the governor knows this and is using his defense team, led by Michele Hirshman, to leverage his resignation against potential charges he may face.


If so, what business does the federal government have in seeking the resignation of a governor?

The Feds should indict independent of Spitzer's resigning (or not resigning).

Interestingly, this raises "Paris Hilton-like" equal-protection issues. When prostitution rings are busted, johns are rarely prosecuted for structuring. Shouldn't Spitzer be (not) prosecuted under the same standards governing regular people?

Everyone will say, "He should be prosecuted like everyone else!" But that's flawed, since "everyone else" wouldn't be prosecuted under these circumstances.
3.12.2008 5:34am
Mike& (mail):
The really ironic thing was that the intern was named Lewinsky; and Clinton got a Lewinsky from a Lewinsky. It's the greatest coincidence since Lou Gehrig came down with Lou Gehrig's disease.


There ought to be a word for this. Maybe there already is? Perhaps the cunning linguists will chime in.
3.12.2008 5:39am
John McCall (mail):
Are you suggesting that Clinton could have claimed entrapment? Was Lewinsky a Republican plant?

I think Clinton is scum, but Starr's investigation against him really was unreasonable. Clinton could certainly have claimed prosecutorial misconduct if that weren't a toothless charge against independent prosecutors. A large team of competent prosecutors were given full-time employment, grand jury powers, and a commission to find something against Clinton that would stick, and they kept investigating allegations until one did. There aren't many fifty-year-olds, much less fifty-year-old politicians, who could survive that type of process unindicted.
3.12.2008 5:45am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Orin:

You are probably right about any collateral lawsuit. But the chief justice is the presiding judge at a trial of impeachment. It's an entirely open question about how much power he has in that capacity.
3.12.2008 6:33am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
BTW, another difference between the two is that 10 years from now there will not be any heated internet discussions about Spitzer's behavior, but there will probably still be the same over Clinton.
3.12.2008 6:37am
Jay:
U.Va. 3L
"[H]ow do you smear a prostitute?

Perhaps I'm drawing an unfair inference, but I think that sentence speaks volumes."

LOL, but your response is even better. Are we now so PC that it's out of bounds to even imply that there might be anything wrong with being a prostitute?
3.12.2008 6:59am
Brett Bellmore:
I think it's worth remembering that Clinton did not just lie under oath. He also suborned others to lie under oath, in sworn depositions, and had the White house staff assisting him in intimidating witnesses, and collecting and destroying evidence under subpoena. That is to say, there was a full blown conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The real significance of the whole 'affair' being that, after a long series of scandal investigations which, rather than clearing him, merely petered out in a morass of missing evidence and witnesses who fled the country or went to jail rather than testify, Clinton needed his staff to obstruct justice for him, and he not only was confident that they'd do it, they sprang into action like a well oiled machine. The logical inference concerning why previous investigations had ended the way they did is obvious.

One bit of physical evidence collected and dry cleaned, (And they tried to get it.) and Monicagate would have ended like all the other scandals, evidence but no conclusive proof, the President's defenders claiming it was all a right-wing invention.

Something to think about.

For my part, I don't take the lying under oath lightly: The President occupies a position which demands the taking of an oath to assume. Like all such positions, evidence that you are contemptuous of oaths taken goes directly to your qualification to hold the office. Bill Clinton clearly never took an oath he felt bound by, his oath of office was no different in that respect from any of the other oaths he took and then violated.
3.12.2008 7:48am
Mr. Bingley (www):
Did Blackstone really lisp that badly?
3.12.2008 8:15am
cboldt (mail):
-- If so, what business does the federal government have in seeking the resignation of a governor? --

.

None. I had the same first reaction. Then I read a report that intimates Spitzer's team is the side that aims to tether political resignation to criminal prosecution.

Mr. Spitzer won't resign until he reaches an agreement with the government not to pursue charges, say those familiar with his legal team's thinking.


.

I don't have a link to the original article, having read the above at Beldar's "Spitzer's very guilty, but exactly of how much is still unclear"
3.12.2008 9:00am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Another difference:

Clinton opened himself up to the possibility of blackmail by an intern with no apparent political, financial or ideological ambitions. Not a big risk in practical terms, and not an uncommon one for politicans to take.

Spitzer opened himself up to blackmail by organized crime. There's already speculation out there that his prosecutions of other prostitution rings was done at the behest of the Emperor's Club. What else might he have done for them or their associates? This is a much bigger threat to the operation and legitimacy of government.

Spitzer's action is more comparable to JFK boffing a Mafia chief's girlfriend - something a compliant press should not have allowed him to get away with.
3.12.2008 9:14am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I guess we should start worrying about Fitzgerald looking for somebody, anybody, to have committed meaningless forgetting in an investigation of a crime that didn't happen.
Unlimited crusades usually end up like this--see Iran Contra.
Spitzer, on the other hand, actually did something nasty and got caught by people looking not at him but at other issues into which he wandered. Voluntarily and with sufficient professional knowledge to know he might get caught.

And, you smear a prostitute by accusing her of consorting with a politician.
3.12.2008 9:25am
cboldt (mail):
-- When prostitution rings are busted, johns are rarely prosecuted for structuring. --

.

Most johns aren't dealing with pimps and hookers priced so that criminal structuring can be implicated.

.

I'm purely speculating that the prosecutors are demanding testimony from Spitzer in order to obtain a conviction of the pimps. The political intrigue is being injected by Team Spitzer in order to produce the meme that his being embroiled in the case is a matter of political dirty tricks, rather than objective criminal prosecution.
3.12.2008 9:28am
Temp Guest (mail):
Everybody knew Clinton was a sleazebag but voted for him anyway when he first ran for President? Really!!

The job that Hillary, the mass media, and the entire Democrat party did woprking to cover up Clinton's malfeasances and psychological pathologies truly did border on a conspiracy. That the American public bought into this just enough to give Clinton a bare plurality of the vote is an indictment of the low political intelligence, gullibility, and herd mentality of the US electorate but hardly evidence that they would embrace a rapist, serial molester of women, and seller of pardons to arch criminals and terrorists.

It's worth bringing this up because the same process seems to be replaying with Hillary. Obama --with his decency, intelligence, and legitimate rise to political prominence-- was beating the corrupt harridan who married her way to power and maintained her hold on it by enabling - and sometimes encouraging - her husband's malfeasances. Then the MSM -- in the form of the SNL debate skit -- saved her bacon, just the way Jay Leno earlier saved her husband's. Or have we forgotten the touching saxophone demo?

Neither Clinton is fit for any office that requires the public trust. But the previous Clinton was saved by an informal, conspiratorial coverup and it appears the present one may be too. I do not doubt the moral compass of the US electorate, but the depths of their purposeful ignorance and gullibility still remain to be plumbed.
3.12.2008 9:29am
Bill Dyer (mail) (www):
The quote cboldt (8:00 a.m) reprinted above is from today's Wall Street Journal.
3.12.2008 9:31am
Bill Dyer (mail) (www):
And the Clinton/Spitzer comparison, by the way, ought to be between Hillary Clinton and Silda Spitzer (who's the key voice urging him not to resign, according to press reports).
3.12.2008 9:33am
byomtov (mail):
It's the greatest coincidence since Lou Gehrig came down with Lou Gehrig's disease.

Actually, IIRC, there is something unusual about that. Most diseases that carry people's names - Crohn's, Tay-Sachs, etc. - are named for the person who discovered or described them. Only Lou Gehrig's disease is named for a victim.
3.12.2008 9:52am
Brett Bellmore:
It should be remembered by anyone who thinks that Obama, in contrast to Clinton, is squeaky clean, that he came up through Illinois and Chicago politics. NOBODY emerges from that sewer squeaky clean.
3.12.2008 9:57am
pireader (mail):
Professor Kerr -

You can add another difference between Messrs. Clinton and Spitzer--their level of popular support before and after the scandal broke.

After six years in office, when many other Presidents have slumped, Bill Clinton still had the support of 2/3 of the US electorate, which he retained despite the scandal. Presumably, he could have won re-election easily in 2000, if not for term limits.

In contrast, Eliot Spitzer's support among the NY State electorate was down to 1/3 only one year after winning office, even before this scandal broke.

That makes all the difference in the world to a politician, even if lawyers (or moralists) find it irrelevant.

Clinton survived impeachent because Democratic Senators stayed with him. Had he somehow been brought to a criminal trial, it's very doubtful that a jury would have convicted.

If Spitzer were similarly popular, and if his electorate remained as sympathetic as Clinton's, then I suspect that he could (and would) defy the calls for resignation and even the threat of indictment. He would plead that a private weakness had been made into a victimless crime by politically-motivated prosecutors ... and he might well carry the day.

As matters stand, that's not very likely.
3.12.2008 10:08am
Mr. Bingley (www):
Maybe they can bring him up on a RICO charge, since clearly what we have here is a whore conspiring with a prostitute...
3.12.2008 10:08am
pluribus:
Brett Bellmore:

It should be remembered by anyone who thinks that Obama, in contrast to Clinton, is squeaky clean, that he came up through Illinois and Chicago politics. NOBODY emerges from that sewer squeaky clean.

You do believe in smearing with a broad brush, don't you?
3.12.2008 10:18am
JohnO (mail):
From a legal standpoint, what Spitzer "allegedly" has done is worse. From a non-legal, social standpoint, what Clinton did was worse. He used an unavoidable power imbalance in hooking up with a young White House intern.
3.12.2008 10:24am
JBarton (mail):
Here's the important common link:

Both men engaged in behavior that left them open to blackmail.

This, to me, is the primary (perhaps sole) reason that both should be judged harshly. If one wants an office of public trust, certain choices that might otherwise be personal become public matters.

If anyone thinks this is far fetched, consider NJ Govenor McGreevey's decision to come out of the closet rather than submit to blackmail. He should be respected for that - many men might have decided they'd rather pay the extortionist. In McGreevey's case, the request was for money. In other cases it could easily be political favor.

You want the job? You accept the sacrifices.
3.12.2008 10:30am
PersonFromPorlock:

[H]ow do you smear a prostitute?

Probably, the same way you smear a politician.

I suspect that OK's point is really that a President qualifies for immunity under the Constitution's Important Persons Clause but governors don't. The fact that unimportant people can't find such a Clause merely points out their unimportance.
3.12.2008 10:34am
AntonK (mail):
You're right Orin, it is a question for New Yorkers, and he'll be gone by the end of today.
3.12.2008 10:36am
hawkins:
Truthseeker has an interesting choice of names, given that it appears he has no interest in the truth, and actually only favors assertions that support his narrow partisan views.
3.12.2008 10:36am
Bart (mail):
Spitzer wins on hypocrisy, while Clinton wins on criminality.

Spitzer did not commit a crime moving his own money around. These were not the proceeds from a criminal enterprise. No one has enforced the Mann Act in decades. Thus, Spitzer appears to have committed a misdemeanor solicitation crime which would probably result in a fine.

On the other hand, Spitzer is a self righteous SOB who delighted to taking down prostitution rings in the past and arguably abused his office to shake down legitimate businesses to make headlines. The hypocrisy of this man using prostitutes for a decade is overwhelming.

I agree with Orin that anyone who voted for Clinton should have known they were electing a liar and a cheat. The fact that Clinton pathologically lied and cheated after he was elected should not have come as a surprise.

On the other hand, perjury is a far worse crime than hooking up with a prostitute and worse still when perpetrated by the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. Perjury attacks the heart of the rule of law.

The argument that Clinton's perjuries were not material simply does not carry water.

In the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, Clinton sought to block deposition questions into his sexual relationships with other women under his employ, although this would appear to be relevant evidence in a sexual harassment claim. The court denied the Clinton motion and allowed the questions as reasonably likely to lead to relevant evidence.

If his perjury in a civil context was at all doubtful, Clinton's second perjury before the criminal grand jury was pretty much a slam dunk. One of the primary focuses of the grand jury was to determine if Clinton committed the earlier perjury. Thus, the questions posed to him were completely relevant to that investigation.
3.12.2008 10:46am
Anderson (mail):
Help me out, you experts in the Clinton scandals (it's been a while):

Commenters above said that Judge Wright ruled the questions about other affairs in-bounds, and that this shows their materiality.

But wasn't she just ruling that the questions were acceptable for deposition purposes? You can ask about all kinds of stuff at a deposition that's not admissible, in the hopes of turning up something that *is* admissible.

So, if that's the case, the mere fact that Judge Wright allowed the questions, does not demonstrate their materiality for perjury purposes.
3.12.2008 10:46am
JRL:
". . . but I tend to think that these two cases are different on at least four five grounds . . ."

5. The attractiveness of the transgressors' wives.

Mrs. Spitzer is a hottie! I can understand why Bill might want to stray, but Elliot, come on!
3.12.2008 10:46am
Anderson (mail):
Ah, I see that I've crossed with Bart, who is clearly confused about the distinction that I've just raised.

An important confirmation of my views!
3.12.2008 10:51am
Mac (mail):
Orin wrote:


Keep in mind that the Lewinsky scandal broke just about the same time that Al Qaeda declared war on the United States. With the Islamofascists on the attack, it was arguably an odd time to try to bring instability to the United States by impeaching the Commander-in-Chief. (Although I don't recall many Republicans being particularly concerned about this at the time.)



I don't recall Clinton or any Democrats being concerned about Al Queda at the time either. Or, before when they should have been or later as in now. Bush is just fear mongering, remember?
3.12.2008 10:51am
Anderson (mail):
Mrs. Spitzer is a hottie!

JRL is evidently posting from his Antarctic station, where he has been without female company for many months.

IIRC, Spitzer's squeeze was 5'5", 105 lbs. -- no mature mother of 3 is going to compete with that, if that's what flips Spitzer's switch.
3.12.2008 10:53am
Anderson (mail):
I don't recall Clinton or any Democrats being concerned about Al Queda at the time either.

May I suggest you read up on the subject? Steve Coll's Ghost Wars, which won the Pulitzer, for instance.

Clinton's response to al-Qaeda was probably inadequate (hindsight is 20/20, ain't it?), but he most certainly was concerned about them and was not ignoring the problem. To say otherwise is, quite literally and neutrally, "ignorant."
3.12.2008 10:54am
Chris Smith (mail):
No one dwells much on the marriage oath.
Oaths before God seem somehow less important than oaths on a witness stand, at least on a mortal plane.
This schism is at the root of the problem with Clinton, Spitzer, and the rest of society.
3.12.2008 10:56am
Waldensian (mail):

From a non-legal, social standpoint, what Clinton did was worse. He used an unavoidable power imbalance in hooking up with a young White House intern.

Whoah now. Lewinsky was an adult (albeit a fairly stupid one) who appeared to enjoy what she was doing. It seemed to me she only got mad when the attention from Clinton stopped (a fairly common scenario in his case, it appears).

Why are you reading her intentions and will out of the picture entirely? What is the evidence that their relationship resulted from an abuse of Clinton's power?

Hooking up with one's junior employee is a bad idea for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is the potential for a lawsuit when the subbordinate claims sexual harassment, etc. But it is not per se illegal. Nor is it, I think, necessarily an abuse of power, even when the power imbalance is great. Adults are able to make decisions for themselves. Lewsinsky bears responsibility for her actions, even though the media seemed intent on portraying her as an infant.
3.12.2008 11:00am
Dan Weber (www):
[H]ow do you smear a prostitute?

Accuse her of having sex with a politician!
3.12.2008 11:13am
J smith (mail):
Other differences: (1)Spitzer patronized a willing pro, paying money for services willingly rendered. Clinton seduced a star struck child. Not to mention Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broderick and Paula Jones,none of whom were "willing". (2)Spitzer never tried to destroy his provider's reputations. Clinton clearly tried to libel Lewinsky (and others) as unstable and unreliable liars.(3) Spitzer never lied to the American people, nor did he use the organs of government to perpetrate his lies. Clinton did both. As has been said, he may not have been the worst president, but he was and remains one of the worst people who ever became president.
3.12.2008 11:15am
Waldensian (mail):

Spitzer gets the boot, and Clinton is a hero to a lot of people.

The wording here is a bit misleading. Even the most ardent Clinton supporters don't generally view Clinton's actions or false testimony in connection with Lewinsky as "heroic."

Both politicians have been rightly and heavily criticized for their conduct. But, as Prof. Kerr rightly points out, there may have been good reasons that Clinton's misconduct wasn't career-ending.
3.12.2008 11:19am
Anderson (mail):
Dan Weber wins the thread.
3.12.2008 11:20am
Erick:

If so, what business does the federal government have in seeking the resignation of a governor?

The Feds should indict independent of Spitzer's resigning (or not resigning).

And Spitzer should have been prosecuting Wall St. independent of them making campaign contributions.

I think its everything coming full circle to bite him in the ass that so many people find so amusing.
3.12.2008 11:23am
ChrisIowa (mail):

[H]ow do you smear a prostitute?


It depends on how kinky you want to be.
3.12.2008 11:26am
Aultimer:

Jay:

Are we now so PC that it's out of bounds to even imply that there might be anything wrong with being a prostitute?


The core question of this post is whether it's worse to be a liar-under-oath about one's adultery or an adulterer employing prostitutes, so it's at least in question whether being a prostitute is absolutely worse than either of those.
3.12.2008 11:31am
Anderson (mail):
Are we now so PC that it's out of bounds to even imply that there might be anything wrong with being a prostitute?

No, but since I'm an attorney, I'm hesitant to start pointing fingers.
3.12.2008 11:38am
Brett Bellmore:

Hooking up with one's junior employee is a bad idea for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is the potential for a lawsuit when the subbordinate claims sexual harassment, etc. But it is not per se illegal.


Actually, I have this vague recollection from a discussion at the time, that under federal employment rules it IS per se illegal, as a sort of 'statutory' sexual harassment.
3.12.2008 11:40am
Waldensian (mail):

Actually, I have this vague recollection from a discussion at the time, that under federal employment rules it IS per se illegal, as a sort of 'statutory' sexual harassment.

It is per se illegal for the President to have sex with a White House employee? I am ready to sit corrected. Cite please!
3.12.2008 11:42am
Waldensian (mail):

Clinton seduced a star struck child.

Well, I guess I don't need to look very far for examples of the ridiculous infantilization of Monica Lewinsky.
3.12.2008 11:45am
pireader (mail):
Waldensian --

Reminds me of the best comment I heard during the Clinton scandal:

"A middle-aged man in a position of authority with an attractive young woman. A clear-cut case of the abuse of power ... the only question is by whom."
3.12.2008 11:53am
p. rich (mail) (www):
Orin is so obviously a Clinton suck-up. He and his Dim ilk just can't accept what a sleaze and con artist the man is, which speaks both to Clinton's criminal skills and the ability of the true belivers to rationalize.
3.12.2008 11:55am
Elliot123 (mail):
The Clinton and Spitzer situatins are different. I'm still waiting for Spitzer to go on TV and say, "I never had sex with that whore!"
3.12.2008 11:56am
Anderson (mail):
I'm still waiting for Spitzer to go on TV and say, "I never had sex with that whore!"

Well, Spitzer's candor was doubtless facilitated by the wiretaps. Credit where it's due.
3.12.2008 11:57am
Brett Bellmore:
Well, there's this:

Workplace favoratism

Favortism towards an employee who DOES put out is construed as harrasment towards all the others.

I don't think whether he was the President is relevant, som much as that she was a subordinate federal employee.
3.12.2008 11:59am
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
For purposes of the pro forma course of this thread, no relevant distinctions can really be drawn. Clinton and Spitzer are both Democrats, after all.

For my part, I don't think Spitzer's conduct should be career-ending either, but, well, he knew the score. He should have gotten his jollies doing something legitimate -- like, say, waterboarding noncitizens.
3.12.2008 12:00pm
hawkins:

"A middle-aged man in a position of authority with an attractive young woman. A clear-cut case of the abuse of power ... the only question is by whom."


Say what? This may be the first time I've ever heard anyone accuse her of being attractive.

The biggest problem with Lewinsky, Jones, and Flowers was it exposed incredible flaws in his judgment.
3.12.2008 12:02pm
Per Son:
Since when did Republicans care about lying under oath?

Where is the Republican outcry that Elliot Abrams still is in government? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliott_Abrams

Why is there so much love for convicted criminal G. Gordon Liddy?

I will not quibble whether the Jones case was a witchhunt, because that is a fact (follow the money trail who funded the suit, and how Paula was left in the dirt when their needs were satisified).

What Clinton did was deplorable, ok, I agree - but that is yesterday's news. Spitzer's issue has nothing to do with Clinton. Ugh!
3.12.2008 12:07pm
frankcross (mail):
The big point is: we're a democracy. The significance of these actions is assessed by the people, and the people quite clearly didn't want Clinton gone, unlike Spitzer.

Mike Rappoport may think the majority of people are foolish, I sometimes do, but that's pretty irrelevant.
3.12.2008 12:11pm
Per Son:
I thought of a new way to clean up America. All of the folks who hate Clinton and all the folks who still complain about Bush v. Gore should be rounded up and sent to an Island. They will have a named: "Whineyville - The Land Where People Cannot Drop Yesterday's News."
3.12.2008 12:14pm
Anderson (mail):
All of the folks who hate Clinton

But Clinton-hating is perennial, like the tulip. See "Clinton, Hillary Rodham."
3.12.2008 12:16pm
Per Son:
Damn, my grammer sucks.

I meant to say:

I thought of a new way to clean up America. All of the folks who hate Clinton and all the folks who still complain about Bush v. Gore should be rounded up and sent to an island. They will have a new country named: "Whineyville - The Land Where People Cannot Drop Yesterday's News."
3.12.2008 12:18pm
Habeas Clerk:
As usual, another spot-on post by Orin. Don't let the haters get to you, O.K.
3.12.2008 12:26pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
A short review:
Adultery -- immoral but not illegal.
Patronizing a prostitute -- illegal but not immoral unless the john is married.
Transporting a woman across state lines for the purpose of prostitution -- a federal offense

Spitzer patronized a willing pro, paying money for services willingly rendered. Clinton seduced a star struck child.

Only exposure to that ridiculous HBO series could make even a libertarian think a hooker had a completely free choice in selecting her profession. Judging by the hookers I've seen, it is a last resort for both service provider and customer.

If Spitzer wanted a little something on the side, I'm sure he had enough animal magnetism and power to get it. Instead, he chose to break the Mann Act by arranging for a New York hooker to take the train to DC to service him.

In contrast, upon meeting Clinton, the "star-struck child" flashed her thong at him. This was all the seduction Bill needed. You'd have to be a 40 year old virgin for this reaction, "It's gonna be tough, but if I play my cards right I think I can get into her panties."
3.12.2008 12:44pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
"But Clinton-hating is perennial..."

That's because they refuse to go away. They'd rather be loved than hated, but they'd rather be hated than ignored. Hell, they'd rather be beaten with an old fanbelt, than be ignored.

Continuing to hate them is the least I can do, for the sake of the Clintons' psychic well being. It's the very basis of compassionate conservatism.
3.12.2008 12:58pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"I will not quibble whether the Jones case was a witchhunt, because that is a fact (follow the money trail who funded the suit, and how Paula was left in the dirt when their needs were satisified)."

So what?
3.12.2008 1:04pm
Gary McGath (www):
There is no "Commander-in-Chief of the United States," and any such title would contradict everything our Constitution stands for.

The president is Commander-in-Chief of the army and navy. That's a huge difference.
3.12.2008 1:30pm
Brett Bellmore:
Strictly speaking, the defining characteristic of a "witch hunt" is that there aren't any witches. There ARE Clintons.
3.12.2008 1:30pm
Per Son:
Elliot123 - read all the comments. I was referring to the dog and pony act where conservatives act like they care about poor Paula.
3.12.2008 1:31pm
hattio1:
Gary Imhoff says;

The Clintons' defense line that Bill Clinton's troubles stemmed from the vast right wing's conspiracy against him, rather than from his long history of using and abusing women; that oral sex isn't sex; and that lying about sex isn't sex were all as shabby as his original offenses; I'm surprised that Orin credits them.


Heck, if lying about sex is sex I lost my virginity at about fourteen instead of waaaaay later. It sure wasn't as satisfying as sex though.
3.12.2008 1:32pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Ditto Anderson re the broadened standard for relevancy in a deposition.

Also, Bret Bellmore, court after court has held that it's not sexual harassment to have a consensual sexual relationship with a single subordinate employee, even if you treat that single employee better than other employees because of the consensual relationship.
3.12.2008 1:43pm
Orielbean (mail):
I prefer the Spitzer/Vitter comparison. Both made hash out of the sexual misdeeds of others. Spitzer went after prostition rings and Vitter used the Lewinsky affair for his personal gain. Both are hypocrites that commited the same or similar offenses that they railed against (might as well include Craig here too). The difference? Spitzer took his ball and went home. Craig and Vitter continue to serve.
3.12.2008 1:46pm
Anderson (mail):
Glancing over the Heinrich article linked by Prof. Kerr, it appears that the 2d and 5th Circuits equate discoverability with materiality, while the 6th and 9th do not go so far.

Heinrich himself argues that the broad definition lacks statutory and case support, and that a narrower standard is preferable for various reasons. See esp. part III of his article.
3.12.2008 1:52pm
Thales (mail) (www):

Truthseeker [sic] writes: "Last time I said O.K. never said anything tht wasn't anti-Bush or anti-republican. Now I'll note that he's clearly pro-Clinton. What is this guy doing here???"

Just a thought, but . . . making a reasonable argument and reflecting on two important political events?
3.12.2008 2:04pm
neurodoc:
Actually, IIRC, there is something unusual about that. Most diseases that carry people's names - Crohn's, Tay-Sachs, etc. - are named for the person who discovered or described them. Only Lou Gehrig's disease is named for a victim.
You are correct. At first glance, it might appear to wrong to name a disorder for the person who first characterized it rather than the sufferer of that disorder, but it was just a fortuity, an unfortunate one, that the afflicted person was afflicted, whereas the first person to characterize it contributed something to the advancement of medical science. Also, cases are not reported in the literature with more than the initials, if even that much identification, of the patient, so they remain anonymous, while the person who reports the case(s) is memorialized in the literature. Lou Gehrig's place on the public stage when his disease cut short his extraordinary baseball career was an exceptional instance, and explains why amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is sometimes (mostly by the laity) referred to as Lou Gerhig's disease.

Good medical trivia question to ask which disorders are named for the persons who suffered them. For the moment, the only one I can think of is a blood clotting disorder like hemophilia, that is a deficiency of Hageman factor.

By sheer coinidence the three disorders you mentioned (Lou Gehrig's, Crohn's, and Tay-Sachs) were all described from New York City in the span of 20 or so years ('30s - '40s), the last two of them by physicians at Mt. Sinai hospital, an institution which was home to those outstanding German Jewish physicians who were precluded from practicing at Columbia and Cornell. (And I am told, those German Jews at Mt. Sinai discriminated against Jewish physicians of Eastern European origins, forcing them to go still elsewhere for professional advancement.)

Slightly OT...OK, very OT, but couldn't resist.
3.12.2008 2:10pm
Virginian:

Mrs. Spitzer is a hottie! I can understand why Bill might want to stray, but Elliot, come on!


Is it just me, or does Mrs. Spitzer look like she could be Jennifer Aniston's mother?
3.12.2008 2:13pm
neurodoc:
OK, now having gone OT once, I'm emboldened to do it again. (I'll claim it relates to "smearing" a prostitute.):

Anyone else notice that those marketing the services of these women made a point of how they were more than just physically attractive, they were refined, cultured, educated women? While most seem to have done modeling, one was supposedly a former ballerina, another IIRC was a musician, and one had a masters degree, though the academic discipline was not specified, and no mention of academic pedigrees (e.g., Ivy League versus community college). Made me think of Woody Allen's short piece, The Mensa Whore.

Also, many times a masters degree does not add greatly to an individual's earning capacity. (I joke that an MPH after MD often means decreased earnings.) Are prostitutes with masters degrees able to command more $$$ than those without advanced degrees? Must their degrees be in certain fields if they are to benefit financially from them? Which fields? How would one know they weren't being lied to by a prostitute claiming advanced degrees, would they interrogate her upfront to satisfy themselves they were getting what they had paid for rather than just a good looking bimbo?

Now, for those who like to wager - which tabloid will be first to get Kristen's side of the story? How much will she be paid to tell it?
3.12.2008 2:24pm
neurodoc:
Virginian: Is it just me, or does Mrs. Spitzer look like she could be Jennifer Aniston's mother?
No, it isn't only you. Except I did't think it was her mother, I thought it was Jennifer Anniston in 10 years time.
3.12.2008 2:29pm
Anderson (mail):
Maybe it's b/c the only pix I've seen of her show her looking like death as Spitzer confesses or resigns, but I am not seeing the hotness here. Neither, evidently, was Spitzer.
3.12.2008 2:35pm
Jim Miller (mail) (www):
Orin said: "In contrast, everyone knew of Bill Clinton's infidelities before he was elected President."

That's a very deceptive way to put the matter. If you believed the "60 Minutes" show -- which was intended to deceive the viewers -- Clinton had erred in the past, but had stopped. And there was very little coverage of the central point in the Gennifer (sp?) Flowers matter, that Clinton had given her a government job in return for silence (and, perhaps more sex).

Very few people knew in November, 1992 that Clinton was a reckless, compulsive womanizer.

I personally knew many people then, some of them well-educated, who did not understand what kind of man Clinton was, especially how reckless and compulsive he was. If voters had understood those facts about Clinton's character, he would not have won the election, and might not have won the nomination.
3.12.2008 2:43pm
Piano_JAM (mail):
Judging by the hookers I've seen, it is a last resort for both service provider and customer

Obviously you have not been to Vegas and walked in any hotel on any night.
3.12.2008 2:58pm
Aultimer:

Tony Tutins:
A short review:
Adultery -- immoral but not illegal.
Patronizing a prostitute -- illegal but not immoral unless the john is married.
Transporting a woman across state lines for the purpose of prostitution -- a federal offense



Good summary, but there's a carve out from immorality if the spouse consents. There are many people in the public eye who are "married" only in front of cameras, or for purposes of child-raising.
3.12.2008 3:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
So, if that's the case, the mere fact that Judge Wright allowed the questions, does not demonstrate their materiality for perjury purposes.

That's true enough, though it should also be noted that just because Judge Wright ultimately granted summary judgment does not mean the testimony was not material either.

Personally, I think there was at least a jury question on materiality. You certainly can, under the Federal Rules of Evidence, use prior similar incidents to prove a modus operandi or to negate a defense in a sexual harassment or discrimination suit. The evidence was thus at least potentially admissible, and Clinton surely understood that when he was testifying. The materiality requirement does not mean that a witness under oath gets to make his or her own determination of what questions he is entitled to lie in response to.
3.12.2008 3:30pm
George Weiss (mail) (www):
Anderson

yes but the article also mentions that grand jury perjury (an impeachment article that passed the house) has a much broader definition of materiality-and the article doesn't analyze whether Clinton's grand jury perjury met that definition-(it only analyzes the issue of other perjury-including the civil deposition perjury (an article of impeachment that did not pass the house) and whether that meets the definition of materiality
3.12.2008 3:59pm
Shouting Thomas (mail) (www):
I always read these comments that seem to excuse President Clinton (who I voted for), and I'm left shaking my head.

Legality aside, the Clinton era was the height of the sexual harassment hysteria, a hysteria aided and heightened by the Clintons. Remember the old saw: A woman who is propositioned by a superior cannot possibly give informed consent.

The CEO of any just about any firm would be fired, and face a civil action for sexual harassment for acting as President Clinton did.

How is it that the great feminist crusade, of which the Clintons are charter members, gave President Clinton a pass?

The situations are different, yes. Clinton's actions were far more serious, by the standards of his own political doctrines. The Clintons didn't mind throwing other men out of their jobs, or encouraging the financial ruin of men who acted precisely in the same manner as President Clinton.
3.12.2008 4:38pm
Shouting Thomas (mail) (www):
I always read these comments that seem to excuse President Clinton (who I voted for), and I'm left shaking my head.

Legality aside, the Clinton era was the height of the sexual harassment hysteria, a hysteria aided and heightened by the Clintons. Remember the old saw: A woman who is propositioned by a superior cannot possibly give informed consent.

The CEO of any just about any firm would be fired, and face a civil action for sexual harassment for acting as President Clinton did.

How is it that the great feminist crusade, of which the Clintons are charter members, gave President Clinton a pass?

The situations are different, yes. Clinton's actions were far more serious, by the standards of his own political doctrines. The Clintons didn't mind throwing other men out of their jobs, or encouraging the financial ruin of men who acted precisely in the same manner as President Clinton.
3.12.2008 4:38pm
Doc W (mail):
"...With the Islamofascists on the attack..."


Or, as George Bush says every time he's caught flouting the law or the Constitution: "9/11! 9/11!"
3.12.2008 5:35pm
Per Son:
That was how Lois Griffin got elected!

9-11
3.12.2008 5:54pm
Hetaisha:
neurodoc:

In response to your questions about how you would discover the legitimacy of a high-class prostitute's intellectual prowess prior to payment, see: geisha, hetaira, etc. If you were shelling out several grand for a prostitute, because the prostitute could offer your intellectual or cultural stimulation as well, and then it turned out that her M.A. was in Cosmetological Sciences from the local community college, you would probably never shell out that money again. No return business. Not a great business plan, if part of the business plan is attracting customers for sex plus other things. On the other hand, if you recruit attractive, well-educated young women as your product, your plan has a better chance of succeeding.

And for those who think it's a ridiculous notion that people would pay extra for something other than fetish satisfaction or kink--i.e., for something other than sex, or extreme sex--again, see: geisha, hetaira. So it's not crazy to think that they would be advertising something other than, "$5500. Me love you long time."
3.12.2008 5:59pm
eyesay:
Richard Aubrey wrote "I guess we should start worrying about Fitzgerald looking for somebody, anybody, to have committed meaningless forgetting in an investigation of a crime that didn't happen. Unlimited crusades usually end up like this--see Iran Contra."

Richard, I hope by "unlimited crusades" you mean the Reagan administration's rogue program, in violation of federal law, to supply arms to Iran, an avowed enemy nation that had then recently held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, in order to fund the anti-Sandanista terrorists in Nicaragua, also in violation of federal law, and the massive coverup of this monstrosity, including obstruction of justice on the part of Oliver North, John Poindexter, and others.

Please tell me that by "unlimited crusades" you are not referring to the media and Congress actually doing jobs and trying to discover the truth about this sordid episode.
3.12.2008 6:20pm
Bender (mail):
At a couple of points in my life I became well acquainted with women who earned a lot of money as very high class, very expensive call girls (I had a fascination with the demimonde in my grad student years). The two I knew best greatly exaggerated their intellectual and other accomplishments, although one had attended a good college for several years and the other was an on and off grad student. Evidently it tickled their clients' to think they were f*cking high status young women.

The girls were attractive but not strikingly so (not every man turned to look when they came in a room). One of these acquaintances eventually came clean that her biggest talent was feigning sexual pleasure with men she did not find attractive who did things to her that she did not like.

Both these women were extremely screwed up. One was the victim of paternal incest and abuse. Both would probably be diagnosed as having several personality disorders. The last I heard of one she was running a dog kennel out West with a lesbian partner. The exploiters of such women are pathetic jerks whom I wouldn't trust running the night shift at a McDonalds franchise.
3.12.2008 6:23pm
eyesay:
Per Son wrote "I thought of a new way to clean up America. All of the folks who hate Clinton and all the folks who still complain about Bush v. Gore should be rounded up and sent to an Island. They will have a named: 'Whineyville - The Land Where People Cannot Drop Yesterday's News.'"

I am still unhappy about the massively disproportionate penalties imposed against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. I am still unhappy about the massively disproportionate penalty impose against Jonathan Pollard. And I am still unhappy about the Jeb Bush-Katherine Harris conspiracy to steal the 2000 presidential election. Hey, I'm still unhappy about the mistreatment of John Peter Zenger in 1735. Never Forget.
3.12.2008 6:48pm
zippypinhead:

Anderson wrote:
"But Clinton-hating is perennial, like the tulip. See 'Clinton, Hillary Rodham.'"

wuzzagrunt replied:
"That's because they refuse to go away. . . . Continuing to hate them is the least I can do . . .[i]t's the very basis of compassionate conservatism."

Aw, nuts! Now you've gone and called into question my long-term voting plans! I had already concluded that when it's inevitably Chelsea v. Jenna for President in 12+ years, I simply will have to vote for 'Clinton Dynasty - The Next Generation,' based solely on the gross IQ disparity, if for no other reason. Now you've gone and called into question my decision on which hereditary monarchy to support...

Slightly less off-topic: Chelsea was about the same age as the oldest Spitzer daughter when 'Clinton Dynasty - The Last Generation' had its little intern problem. Which should remind even the hard-core libertarian moralists among us that there ARE sometimes victims of these "victimless crimes."
3.12.2008 7:01pm
Ted F (www):
On the other hand, if you recruit attractive, well-educated young women as your product, your plan has a better chance of succeeding.

Judging by the NY Times profile of "Kristen," ES's 2.5-hour attraction wasn't based on her ability to discuss approaching Billy Budd as Melville's justification of the ways of God to man. (Bonus points for first person to get the reference.)
3.12.2008 7:43pm
MarkField (mail):

Judging by the NY Times profile of "Kristen," ES's 2.5-hour attraction wasn't based on her ability to discuss approaching Billy Budd as Melville's justification of the ways of God to man. (Bonus points for first person to get the reference.)


Spitzer killed his accuser?
3.12.2008 8:15pm
zippypinhead:

Judging by the NY Times profile of "Kristen," ES's 2.5-hour attraction wasn't based on . . .

much of anything above the neck, apparently. Kristen, a/k/a Ashley R. Youmans a/k/a Ashley Rae Maika DiPietro a/k/a Ashley Alexandra Dupre, a 22 year old (only 4 years older than Spitzer's oldest daughter!) Jersey girl musician wanna-be and (former?) drug user from a broken home, who ran away to the Big City at age 17. Whose mother is 2 years younger than Spitzer.

Sounds to me like Spitzer may have a false advertising cause of action against Emperors' Club VIP, or a minimum ought to be entitled to a refund of the 95% overcharge for services rendered. Something about this line from the company's (now-defunct) web site doesn't ring quite true: "Each of our companions is a product of an exceptionally fine background and a success in her right." uh, huh...

"Kristen" makes Monica Lewinsky look REAL high-class by comparison - maybe THAT's the reason why Bill Clinton got to finish his term but Eliot Spitzer won't?
3.12.2008 8:20pm
NickM (mail) (www):

[H]ow do you smear a prostitute?



I don't know, but it probably costs extra - unless you're paying thousands a night, in which case it's likely included.

Nick
3.12.2008 8:55pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
You never know what you are getting into in these situations, do you, zip? All the more reason not to eschew the glove for love as Spitzboy was, apparently, wont to do.

The chances that she has at one time or another had an std are pretty good (strictly from a public hygiene point of view, of course).

Even if Spitzer's spouse knew of his outside dalliances, I suspect she must have presumed he wasn't that reckless. Or maybe they were no longer intimate.
3.12.2008 8:58pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
eyesay.
You've been reading the comix too long.
There is no "avowed enemy" status in law. The weapons were an attempt to retrieve other hostages, a note which your side always seems to forget.
The Boland amendment covered the contras for about six months but did not actually apply. It specified "allocated funds" and named various departments (DOD, INtel, Etc.) which were not allowed to help, with aforesaid allocated funds.
The funds used were not "allocated" (appropriated by Congress), and the folks doing it were not among the specified departments forbidden.
I recall listening to the hearings when one senator asked another, "If the agriculture department did it, it would be legal?" Another senator said, resignedly, that's true, the ag department having been unaccountably left out of Boland.
Warren Rudman was reduced to insisting that Ollie North's pay came from allocated funds--true--and so his participation must have been illegal. That didn't get far.
In a town full of lawyers, Boland had been written with loopholes so broad it seemed as if the authors were signally, "somebody, anybody, look here".
So, I'm referring to Iran contra.
Face it. Your side lost in Central America. Deal with it.
Also, Walsh spent money like it was coming out of geyser back when a buck was vaguely like money.

But if you want to compare things, figure whitewater with witnesses going to jail rather than testify, going overseas, occasionally ending up dead, suborned perjury and evidence disappearing. That might be an arena for comparison.
3.13.2008 12:14am
jt007:

the crime of perjury requires materiality, and I'm not sure Clinton's false statements were material in context


This claim is absurd. The Violence Against Women Act (42 U.S.C. ยง 13981 et seq.)("VAWA") provided for new rules of evidence which are not limited to VAWA claims but are applicable to cases of any type brought in the Federal court. The new Rules (F.R.E. 412-415) expressly allow for the use of "other victim" evidence in any civil or criminal prosecution brought on behalf of a victim of sexual assault/harassment in the Federal Court. FRE 415 specifically makes prior acts of sexual assault admissible. At the time that Paula Jones's attorneys were inquiring about Monica Lewinsky, they did not know if the sex was consensual or whether she was coerced by fear of losing her job. (She did in fact lose her job at the White House and was transferred against her will to the DOD because she had had sex with the president. She had a slam dunk sexual harassment case against Clinton if she had wanted to pursue one.) They had a right to obtain this information through discovery either way. The idea that this evidence wasn't material is laughable. FRE 415 made it explicitly material because this evidence could be used to prove the truth of the matter asserted. It was material and Clinton committed perjury.

The ultimate irony is that the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules opposed the implementation of FRE 415 because "the new rules, which are not supported by empirical evidence, could diminish significantly the protections that have safeguarded persons accused in criminal cases and parties in civil cases against undue prejudice. These protections form a fundamental part of American jurisprudence and have evolved under long-standing rules and case law." The man who signed this travesty into law was none other than Bill Clinton.


the Lewinsky scandal broke just about the same time that Al Qaeda declared war on the United States.


While al Qaeda may have formally declared war on the US in 1998, it had already attacked the US in March 1993 when it bombed the World Trade Center. Al Qaeda bombed our embassies in Africa in 1996 and Clinton responded by bombing an aspirin factory. Clinton hadn't let those bombings stop him from getting oral sex in the Oval Office or from spending lots of time getting Lewinsky a job to shut her up. Clinton never did anything about terrorism because he was an incompetent, not because he was impeached for committing multiple felonies.


My recollection is that a number of Clinton's political enemies helped encourage the lawsuit against Clinton to get him under oath so he would lie or otherwise embarrass himself.


Where does that recollection come from? Paula Jones filed her lawsuit after Clinton attack dog, James Carville, called her a slut and said that there is no telling what you can get people to say when you "drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park." No one wanted to set a perjury trap. They just wanted Clinton to be subject to the same scrutiny that anyone else would have been. Clinton is the one who decided to commit perjury and suborn the perjury of others.
3.13.2008 3:15am
JosephSlater (mail):
Lewinsky did not have anything like a "slam dunk sexual harassment case" against Clinton. My post above pointed out that courts have held that it doesn't violate Title VII where a supervisor prefers one particular woman with whom he was having a consensual romantic/sexual relation to other employees.

It is true, for the same reason, that if a couple previously in a consensual relatinoship "breaks up," a supervisor may, without violating Title VII, treat that individual employee worse than other employees.

The principle in both instances is that the supervisor is not acting "because of sex" as Title VII requires, but rather out of a personal like or dislike (mind you, I'm neither endorsing nor condemning that reasoning).
3.13.2008 11:56am
jt007:

Lewinsky did not have anything like a "slam dunk sexual harassment case" against Clinton. My post above pointed out that courts have held that it doesn't violate Title VII where a supervisor prefers one particular woman with whom he was having a consensual romantic/sexual relation to other employees.

You failed to provide any citations to case law to support your assertion so I don't know what jurisdiction you are talking about or what the cases actually say. However, you have misstated what actually happened with Lewinsky. She actually lost her job and was transferred against her will to the DOD. Marsha Scott, who was in charge of personnel for the Clinton White House, admitted that Lewinsky was essentially fired from the White House and then offered a position at DOD because of her affair with Clinton. She wasn't treated "less favorably" than other women, she was terminated when Clinton grew tired of her BJ's. In California a hostile work environment theory of recovery can be based on evidence that women who have sex with the boss receive favorable treatment (depending on how pervasive this activity is).
3.13.2008 10:13pm