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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Hypocritical Oath: Kay Bailey Hutchison Edition

I'm introducing a new line of features here at CCM: the Hypocritical Oath. Just as doctors take the Hyppocratic Oath promising to do no harm, many of our elected representatives behave as if they've taken an oath to miss no chance to betray principles that they've previously claimed to hold dear. When I see a truly shining example of such hypocricy, I will note it with a Hypocritical Oath award.

Our inaugural award winner is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). During the Senate trial of President Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction, Senator Hutchison released a detailed statement purporting to explain her vote. Here is an excerpt:

Based upon my analysis of the facts of this case and my own conclusions of law, I have concluded:

(i) The President of the United States willfully, and with intent to deceive, gave false and misleading testimony under oath with respect to material matters that were pending before the Federal grand jury on August 17, 1998, as alleged in Article I presented to the Senate. I, therefore, vote 'Guilty' on Article I of the Articles of Impeachment of the President in this Proceeding.

(ii) The President of the United States engaged in a pattern of conduct, performed acts of willful deception, and told and disseminated massive falsehoods, including lies told directly to the American people, that were designed and corruptly calculated to impede, obstruct, and prevent the plaintiff in the Arkansas Federal sexual harassment case from seeking and obtaining justice in the Federal court system of the United States, and to further prevent the Federal grand jury from performing its functions and responsibilities under law, I, therefore, vote 'Guilty' on Article II of the Articles of Impeachment of the President in this proceeding.
Now, as I've noted, I don't think that President Clinton's behavior---wretched though it was---involved Constitutional, and thus impeachable, offenses. I recognize, however, that someone who feels that all instances of perjury and dishonesty during legal procedings, could in principle feel differently (no, Peter, I am not changing my previous view that GOP members were effectively engaged in an attempted coup---just because someone could believe these things doesn't mean those conspirators did).

Perhaps, a la Peter's comments on my earlier post, we should give Senator Hutchison the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps, that is, she really, really, really believes that dishonesty in legal procedings is a High Crime. Then one would certainly expect her to believe that perjury or obstruction in the CIA leak case should be aggressively prosecuted, now, wouldn't one?

I regret to say that Sen. Hutchison is untroubled by the hobgoblin of consistency, however. Here is a quote from her appearance today on Meet the Press (originally via ThinkProgress):
An indictment of any kind is not a guilty verdict, and I do think we have in this country the right to go to court and have due process and be innocent until proven guilty. And secondly, I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. So they go to something that trips someone up because they said something in the first grand jury and then maybe they found new information or they forgot something and they tried to correct that in a second grand jury.

I think we should be very careful here, especially as we are dealing with something very public and people's lives in the public arena. I do not think we should prejudge. I think it is unfair to drag people through the newspapers week after week after week, and let's just see what the charges are. Let's tone down the rhetoric and let's make sure that if there are indictments that we don't prejudge.

Gee. I wonder why people think that the GOP members who voted in favor of impeachment were dissembling?


Maybe the DNC will get with it and start running ads asking why Republicans are soft on crime.


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