Bill Clinton owes me one

The New Jerusalem Bible, Genesis  18:27: :  “Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well on in years, and Sarah had ceased to have her monthly periods.  So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking ‘Now that I am past the age of childbearing, and my husband is an old man, is pleasure to come my way again?’  But Yahweh asked Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, “Am I really going to have a child now that I am old?” Nothing is impossible for Yahweh.  I shall come back to you at the same time next year and Sarah will have a son’.  Sarah said, ‘I did not laugh,’ lying because she was afraid.  But [H]e* replied, ‘Oh yes, you did laugh.’ ”  (Emphasis added.  *Other translations clarify that Yahweh is speaking.)

“In December 1998, Clinton’s political party, the Democratic Party, was in the minority in both chambers of Congress. Some Democratic members of Congress, and most in the opposition Republican Party, believed that Clinton’s giving false testimony and allegedly influencing Lewinsky’s testimony were crimes of obstruction of justice and perjury and thus impeachable offenses. The House of Representatives voted to issue Articles of Impeachment against him which was followed by a 21-day trial in the Senate.” (Wikipedia)

It was a pleasant surprise in December, 1998 when United States Senator Arlen Specter telephoned me at my office.  Such contacts were infrequent and usually brief.  However this time Arlen asked my thoughts concerning the trial before the Senate of President Bill Clinton on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury, in large part Clinton’s actions to conceal his sexual misconduct with Monica Lewinski, an adult female intern.

Just about everybody was incensed at Clinton just as recently public opinion turned against Penn State University over the Jerry Sandusky scandal.    I toyed with my old friend by saying that, according to Jewish tradition, the verdict is very clear.

Arlen took the bait and said something to the effect “Then you believe he should be convicted?” I responded “Oh no, Jewish tradition is clear that we are permitted to bend the truth for the purpose of maintaining family harmony.   The precedent was set by God Almighty when God declined to accurately repeat to Abraham the assertion by Sarah that Abraham was too old to sire a child.”

I was not aware until years later that Arlen met weekly with other high government officials to study Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament).   Obviously I had piqued his interest and provided a new perspective because we must have talked about Clinton’s innocence or guilt for ten to fifteen minutes, which was extraordinary considering his busy schedule.

“All of the Democrats in the Senate voted for acquittal on both the perjury and the obstruction of justice charges. Ten Republicans voted for acquittal for perjury: Chafee (Rhode Island), Collins (Maine), Gorton (Washington), Jeffords (Vermont), Shelby (Alabama), Snowe (Maine), Specter (Pennsylvania), Stevens (Alaska), Thompson (Tennessee), and Warner (Virginia).  Five Republicans voted for acquittal for obstruction of justice: Chafee, Collins, Jeffords, Snowe, and Specter.” (Wikipedia)

A two-thirds majority is required to convict and thus remove a president.  Specter vote prevented the accusers from even achieving 50%.

I don’t know how much influence I had on Arlen.  But nevertheless, I like to think that Bill Clinton’s owes me one.

Updated: September 8, 2012 — 10:49 am