What Petraeus Reminds Us About Bill Clinton

When you bring up the impeachment of the 42nd President, Bill Clinton, you will likely get the following vulgar response from the average progressive: “Puhleeze, he was impeached over a blow job.” Heck, I don’t consider myself a radical leftist and this has typically been my response. Of course, I’m wrong and so are my fellow liberals. Unlike Andrew Johnson, impeached more than a century earlier, Clinton actually committed a crime, perjury. However, recent events cast the Monica Lewinsky scandal in an entirely different light in my opinion.

Last week retired General David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA after he revealed that he had been in an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Some folks consider it a non-starter and wonder why Petraeus felt he needed to resign. Well first of all, he did not honorably fall on his sword. He was asked to resign by his direct superior, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and had this not happened, we have no reason to doubt Petraeus would have tried to salvage his job. The affair supposedly ended months before he was caught by the FBI so where was his honorable conscience in the interim? Even if we buy the notion that he resigned because he felt he dishonored the CIA and even if most of us agree on the immorality of his infidelity, his resignation was necessary for a far more important reason.

David Petraeus was America’s top spy. He had access to highly classified information. An extramarital affair puts him directly in the line of fire of a potential extortion. He could have been blackmailed by any third party that became aware of the affair. He also could have been blackmailed by Broadwell herself if she perceived herself the scorned lover. Clearly it appears that Broadwell sent emails to another woman (Jill Kelley) warning her to stop flirting with Petraeus so Broadwell herself seems to have been slightly unhinged. So Petraeus’ conduct goes beyond just poor judgment or immorality. His conduct put our entire national security at risk. He absolutely had to resign.

And that brings us back to Bill Clinton. As President, Bill Clinton had access to classified information, not the least of which were the codes to the nuclear arsenal. While history may record Monica Lewinsky as a harmless naive intern, Clinton’s consorting with her made him vulnerable to extortion just as it did with General Petraeus. We have a tendency to look the other way when presidents misbehave sexually (see FDR and Kennedy for starters) but the Petraeus affair should make us rethink this tendency. Just as there is a zero tolerance policy for adultery within the CIA, so should it be for the presidency. In retrospect, Clinton should have resigned. Perhaps the next president who cannot control his libido will set a proper precedent and step aside if he gets caught with his pants down.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Photo of Petraeus by Darren Livingston (Central Intelligence Agency) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Clinton by Bob McNeely, The White House [1] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Real Voter Fraud

My fellow liberals are understandably upset about various Republican state legislatures passing laws that will restrict voting access to typically disenfranchised people. These laws disproportionately limit votes that would probably be for Democrats. The premise behind the stricter laws is to stamp out that dreaded boogeyman VOTER FRAUD. Of course, we wouldn’t want to remind these legislators that the occurrence of voter fraud is miniscule.

If my Republican friends really want to worry about voter fraud, I’d like to turn their attention to a fraud that goes unnoticed every election. Very simply it is the phenomenon of very stupid people entering the voting booth.

My story actually begins with my own stupidity. The other day I was looking at a map of the proposed Keystone pipeline extension which had a solid line and a dotted line on it. I was having trouble understanding the difference. Like an idiot, I had neglected to notice the legend at the bottom of the map. My almost-eight year old 2nd grader explained the map to me when my wife prompted her to. I then updated my Facebook status to say “The verdict is in. I am not smarter than a 2nd grader.”

Things got worse however later in the day. The Lawson family gathered around the warm glow of the television to watch the game show Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?. For the uninitiated, contestants on this show try to win money by answering questions in topics taught in the first through fifth grades. Each contestant gets the help of one actual fifth grader from a panel that appears in each episode. With that backdrop, the following transpired. Mind you, I am NOT making this up.

The question: Which President of the United States served immediately before Franklin Delano Roosevelt? (Answer: Herbert Hoover)

The contestant thought aloud, “Well, IF Roosevelt served more than one term, then maybe the President who served before Roosevelt was Roosevelt himself?” The host, Jeff Foxworthy was kind enough to tell the woman that there are no trick questions on the show. I could see at this point, things were not going to end well. IF? One of the most well-known facts about Roosevelt was that he was elected four times, the only President with that distinction. Clearly this fact had escaped our poor contestant.

After pushing her brain to its limit she called on her fifth grade partner for assistance. Sadly the young girl was not the best exemplar of our educational system. Her answer was “Abraham Lincoln”. At this point, I went into shock. Lincoln was long dead before Roosevelt was even born. Their terms were not even in the same century. But forgiving man that I am, I gave the poor fifth grader a pass and blamed her teachers for her utter ignorance.

Our adult contestant now had the option to use the fifth grader’s answer or come up with her own. She wisely chose to reject “Abraham Lincoln”. The furrows in her forehead deepened. She descended into intense meditation. And then it came to her. She had arrived at her answer. Her answer was …

JAMES MADISON

Gasping for air, I asked my wife to call the paramedics. Just when I thought the lady recognized the utter impossibility of Lincoln, she picked a President even earlier than Lincoln. In fact, she picked the fourth President of the United States. Could the fourth POTUS possibly have served in the 1930’s? So three possibilities come to mind. She either knew nothing about Madison, or nothing about Roosevelt, or nothing about either. She was a grown-ass woman! She was incapable of making a guess that contained even the slightest hint of deductive reasoning. Had she said Calvin Coolidge, I could have said ok … early 20th century President. Had she said Harry Truman, I could’ve said ok, she’s got a good time frame there and just got the men in the wrong order. But no, her answer was the answer of a blindingly stupid person.

And now the real tragedy … this woman can vote. It makes you wonder just how many of the folks who enter the voting booth cannot discern their anus from a hole in the ground. And if it is true that much of America is dumb-as-a-post stupid, what does that say about the leaders we choose? Is it any wonder we have a Congress that repeatedly makes a spectacle of itself in incompetence? And while I still support our President, is it any wonder that we demanded virtually no relevant experience from him before electing him to the Presidency? Is it any wonder that the current slate of Republican Presidential wanna-be’s appear to be answering a casting call for Saturday Night Live?

The real voter fraud going on in America is that folks who can’t tell the difference between a SALT treaty and a salt shaker are choosing the man or woman who gives the “go” on a nuclear strike. Sadly, while we can legally ask you to produce all sorts of identification to prove you are who you say you are at the ballot box, we can’t legally ensure you won’t put James Madison as a write in candidate on the ballot.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The GOP Goes into Therapy and the Pres-Elect Goes Viral

When an election concludes, I’m used to seeing the losing party make some simple excuse for their loss and then look toward the next election with a new candidate. Not so in 2008. Never have I seen a party go through such an open breakup with itself as with the Republicans this past two weeks. This was epitomized by the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA) conference last week in Miami. The conference might as well have been subtitled, “It’s not you, it’s me” as the Republican governors fell on their swords in this breakup from their past.

It was funny to watch the two different world views at play. One view (amplified by Pat Buchanan and represented by his girlfriend Sarah Palin) was that Republicans lately haven’t been Republican enough. They need to go further to the right, more conservative, and to hell with the broad cross section of voters who no longer understand them. Those voters are never coming on board anyway. Then there was the Tim Pawlenty and Bobby Jindal view that the party must re-invent itself to appeal to the current American demographic.

All I can say is at the rate they’re going with all this self-analysis, the Republicans may transform to the degree that in 2012, we’ll really be voting for two different flavors of Democrat!

Obama’s First “Viral Radio Address”

On Saturday, November 15, Barack Obama did what so many of us who have followed his campaign could have expected. He took his weekly radio address (which will continue up to and after his inauguration) and video taped it for upload to YouTube. This is the FDR “fireside” chat pulled into the 21st century. I was hoping for this example of transparency from the Obama White House and I expect we’ll see more of it, not less.

As a service to my small cadre of loyal readers, you can find Obama’s address here every week. I will do my best to post it on the Saturday it is released. Depending on its content I may or may not add my own commentary.

For now, I give you, the President-elect:

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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