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Posted by Smokey Stover on July 20, 2005

In Reply to: Clintonian posted by Brian from Shawnee on July 20, 2005

: : : I read the sentence, "... that denial had come to seem Clintonian in its legal precision." What's Clintonian?

: : The word "smart-ass" is sometimes used to describe people like the author of your quote. In this case, he is trying to show how smart he is at the expense of former President Bill Clinton. When he was questioned by one of the innumerable investigative bodies trying to get material from his own mouth with which to discredit him, Clinton, a lawyer by education, tried to defend himself by pointing out that the questions had a certain lack of precision. To one question he answered something like, "That depends on the meaning of 'is'." My explanation is extremely biased. So is the clause that you quote. The author of it really just means that the denial seems to be splitting hairs. SS

: "That depends on what the definition of the word 'is' is" was President Clinton's response to the suggestion that he'd lied when he told Jim Lehrer of PBS "There is no improper relationship" with one Monica Lewinsky. The President's point was something like: he didn't say there *never was*, but only there *is not* an improper relationship.

: I'm sure most politicians admired him for having the balls to say that with a straight face, and most Republicans hated him not for saying it, but for getting away with saying it.

Thanks, Brian, you're right about the exact quotation. Not Clinton's shining hour. I don't know who Mr. Hong is quoting, but it's probably very recent. An article by Jonathan Alter, in the current Newsweek, has "A real leader wouldn't hide behind Clintonian legalisms like 'I don't want to prejudge.'" I don't know when "I don't want to prejudge" became a legalism. Mr. Alter is considered a liberal commentator, but he's just another smart-ass here, indulging in what one commentator called "drive-by character assassination"--odious no matter who the shooter and who the target. The phrase "drive-by character assassination" applies because Alter shoots at Clinton with an implied insult without stopping to explain. And you, Mr. Hong, take seriously my admonition about either using "I read" or "I come" (in your other post) with suitable adverbs, or using another tense. SS

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