A Do-It-Yourself Censure

Let’s pretend we’re members of the House Judiciary Committee and mark up a bill!

Here (courtesy of the Associated Press) is the draft censure resolution to be offered by committee Democrats:

It is the Sense of the Congress that –

On January 20, 1993, William Jefferson Clinton took the oath, prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, safely to execute the Office of President; implicit in that oath is the obligation that the President set an example of high moral standards and conduct himself in a manner that fosters respect for the truth; and William Jefferson Clinton has egregiously failed in this obligation, and through his actions has violated the trust of the American people, lessened their esteem for the office of President and dishonored the office which they have entrusted to him.


Be it resolved that:

1. The President made false statements concerning his reprehensible conduct with a subordinate;

2. The President wrongfully took steps to delay discovery of the truth;

3. No person is above the law, and the President remains subject to criminal and civil penalties;

4. William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States, by his conduct has brought upon himself and fully deserves the censure and condemnation of the American people and the Congress; and by his signature on this Joint Resolution, the President acknowledges this censure.

Chatterbox (whose position is that Clinton lied under oath and that we ought to take note of this fact and then move on in deference to the mandate of the midterm election) thinks he can work with this language. Here are a few minor changes:


  • Cut everything preceding “Be it resolved.” It’s wordy and wishy-washy, and seems designed to sidestep the question of whether Clinton broke the law (which Chatterbox believes he did).

  • In item one, insert, after “made false statements,” the phrase, “under oath, in both civil and criminal proceedings,” and instead of “reprehensible conduct with a subordinate” say “sexual relationship with a subordinate.”

  • In item two, cross out “delay” and substitute “prevent.”

  • In item four, instead of “acknowledges this censure,” the text should say “acknowledges his perjury and this censure.”

Make these changes and, as far as Chatterbox is concerned, we’ve got a deal.

Timothy Noah