Do you remember Paula Jones? I bet you remember Monica Lewinsky. Paula was suing Bill Clinton, and in the course of the discovery process, Bill tried to hide his relationship with Monica, just in case it could be used as evidence against him. Later when he was being investigated for perjury and suborning perjury, President Bill Clinton said that he didn’t have to play by the rules because he believed the case was baseless.
Now Sarah Palin’s “first dude”, her husband, is refusing to testify in an abuse of power investigation into his wife’s conduct as Governor of Alaska because he “no longer believes the legislature’s investigation is legitimate”. Back in 1998, I was appalled that Clinton thought he was above the law and had some special right to bypass the judicial process. As I wrote last year about the matter,
President Clinton repeatedly justified his alleged “obstruction of justice” as having been in response to Ms. Jones’ unfounded and frivolous lawsuit. But if the President shared his feminist constituents’ beliefs and trusted the legal system, he would have allowed justice to run its normal course instead of trying to impede a woman’s right to bring a sexual harassment case against her employer.
I feel the same way today about the Palin’s. What right does Todd Palin (or anyone else for that matter) have to ignore a subpoena to testify in an investigation? Is his opinion about the legitimacy of an investigation superior to that of the democratically elected Alaska legislature? Does he have jurisdiction over the legislature? Why do we have legislatures, judges, courts, juries, or law enforcement if it all comes down to guys like Clinton or Dude Palin extra-judicially determining they’re above the law?
What Clinton didn’t understand then and what Palin doesn’t understand now is that they are not fighting to protect their rights, but are disrespecting and undermining the public institutions that comprise the American democracy. If they believed in the system, then they would show a little more faith in the rule of law in this country — like ordinary Americans are forced to do every day in court — and let justice run its due course.