The Magazine


Feb 2, 1998, Vol. 3, No. 20 • By DAVID FRUM
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Nor is it only the president and his political aides who are exposed to the wrath of the law. The code of professional conduct forbids lawyers to represent a client whom they know to be planning to perjure himself. The representation Bob Bennett and others have given this administration has been vigorous, to put it mildly. Has any of them ever straggled over the line into actual knowledge of presidential lying? Has any advised anyone to shape testimony in ways that constitute perjury? If so, then such a person faces disbarment at a minimum.

Theoretically, of course, anyone with guilty knowledge should confess it out of pure public-spiritedness. Alas, White Houses seldom work that way. John Dean broke ranks in the end because he figured out that, though his president accepted loyalty, he did not return it; that he would cheerfully consign Dean or anyone else to jail in order to clear himself. Surely there must be some Clintonite brainy enough to figure out -- if only on the basis of the stories of the president's sexual proclivities -- that you cannot expect reciprocity from Bill Clinton.

Last week was the week that the Washington press corps decided it was sick of being used. But journalists who permit themselves to be used suffer nothing worse than professional embarrassment. What we are waiting for now, as the federal bloodhounds close in, is the moment when one or more of Clinton's aides, protectors, or henchmen decide that they, too, are sick of being used; that they will no longer shut down their consciences for the sake of a man who values his own presidency so little that he would risk it for a fleeting, illicit pleasure. What we are wondering, as we wait, is how many of his aides, how many Democratic office-holders Clinton will take with him if he falls. And what those people now on the verge of tumbling with Clinton ought to ask themselves is: Is this man really worth it?

David Frum is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.