Clinton Scores Some Points
Jude Wanniski
September 22, 1998


Memo To:Sen. Bob Torricelli [D NJ]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Videotape

Your spirited defense of the President these past several months looked like a loser last week, but I have to say he looks a bit better today. Itís too soon to say heís home free, but unless there is a bolt from the blue, I think he was at least able to persuade many people that while his conduct was shameful, he committed no felony that would force his removal. It does in the end come down to the question of whether he perjured himself before the federal grand jury.  When he equated "sexual relations" with "intercourse," as much as his opponents complain that "sex is sex" no matter what he says, there is a basis for concluding that he is legally correct if that indeed is his definition. The fact that there was no intercourse even though there could have been at any time the President wished suggests his lawyer's mind was working to keep him from going over the edge into sexual relations during Lewinsky's visits.

Even before the videotape was shown I concluded that he might dodge the perjury bullet after watching Rep. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a very conservative Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, say on "Meet the Press" Sunday that he thought things might be worked out. He telegraphed that he did not consider the videotape a knockout blow, and said there are still "four or five questions I'd like to ask the guy," but there was an inference he believed perjury may not have been committed. A great many Americans believe his disgrace of the office is sufficient reason to demand his resignation, but I don't think that will happen unless your party leaders decide he must resign because of what has transpired. The November elections may be decisive. At one time I thought a censure might be sufficient, but Representative Graham said on Sunday he did not think Congress should moralize. If he goes to trial, I think he at least would come close to being removed for his behavior, and that in itself would constitute appropriate punishment.