The President's intentional and consistent misstatements may also undercut the trust that the American people have in his word, which would have substantial ramifications for his presidency. Under the Constitution, as presidential scholar Richard Neustadt has noted, the President's ultimate source of authority, particularly his moral authority, is the power to persuade, to mobilize public opinion and build consensus behind a common agenda, and at this the President has been extraordinarily effective. But that power hinges on the President's support among the American people and their faith and confidence in his motivations, his agenda, and ultimately his personal integrity. As Teddy Roosevelt once explained, "My power vanishes into thin air the instant that my fellow citizens who are straight and honest cease to believe that I represent them and fight for what is straight and honest; that is all the strength I have."
Sadly, with his deception, President Clinton may have weakened the great power and strength of which President Roosevelt spoke. I know this is a concern that many of my colleagues share, that the President has hurt his credibility and therefore, perhaps, his chances of moving his agenda forward. But I believe that the harm the President's actions have caused extend beyond the political arena. I am afraid that the misconduct the President has admitted may be reinforcing one of the most destructive messages being delivered by our popular culture --namely that values are essentially fungible. And I am afraid that his misconduct may help to blur some of the most important bright lines of right and wrong left in our society.
June 11, 2007: Senator Joe Lieberman (technically an Independent), voting on cloture for the no-confidence resolution regarding Alberto Gonzales (the complete text of which reads: "It is the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people."):
As Raw Story spells it out:
Only seven Republicans voted with their Democratic colleagues to express their disappointment with the firing of 8 US Attorneys and other controversial matters in Gonzales's administration of the Department of Justice: Norm Coleman (MN) Susan Collins (ME), Chuck Hagel (NE), Gordon Smith (OR), Olympia Snowe (ME), Arlen Specter (PA), and John Sununu (NH).
Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, voted with the Republicans. The vote tally was 53 in favor of invoking cloture, and 38 voting to continue debate. One senator voted 'present.'
Explain this to me again: What possible purpose can there be, other than a sapheaded obedience to the most false kind of collegiality imaginable, that prevents Senate Majority Leader Reid from stripping Lieberman of his seniority (and with it, his committee rank)?
Gonzales has gutted the Justice Department and placed the hollowed-out remains in the service of his master, George Bush, turning the chief law-enforcement agency of the land into nothing more than "a political arm of the White House".
He should be strung up by his sweaty little thumbs, but at least a vote of no confidence would have been a start.
Of the seven Republicans who voted for cloture on the resolution, five (including Oregon's own faux-centrist junior Senator) are sweating bullets over their re-election next year.
But even Arlen Specter, who as chair of the Judiciary Committee putatively charged with oversight of Gonzales' Justice Department never failed to collapse like a wet taco when it was time to put his professed outrage into action, found the gumption to support the no-confidence resolution.
Not Joe, though. All that high-minded talk of "the American people and their faith and confidence" their leaders' "motivations," "agenda," and "personal integrity" sits poorly on the lips of a man who makes a routine practice of selling out his own party and caucus for the cameras.
The most dangerous place in Washington is between Lieberman and a TV camera where he can demonstrate his loyalty to the Bush agenda.