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Samizdata quote of the day

If you are going to f**k the whole of France, that is not a bad place to start.

– Schrödinger’s cat, a commenter at Guido Fawkes

49 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Regional

    There has not been a French President who hasn’t had a romantic interlude with France.

  • jamess

    Maybe he’s just doing his bit to help employment?

  • GoneWithTheWind

    This may well be the only “productive” thing he has ever done in his life.

  • M. Thompson

    I don’t have a problem with politicians having a mistress as long as when it’s confronted, they are honest about it.

    And afterwards, she looks good. I mean, what’s the point of having one if she’s ugly?

  • I’m not sure about the honesty part, M. Thompson. I actually think it’s nobody’s business but their family. I detest lying of the kind Clinton engaged in. What I would like politicians do instead in such cases (other than trying to be faithful to their spouses to begin with), is to say: ‘no comment, because it’s none of your damn business’. Because it really isn’t, as long as they are doing the work they are paid to do.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Oh I dunno, Alisa. Whist ad homs are clearly inappropriate when dealing specifically with arguments, they do have some relevance when the issue at stake is the credibility of a human being.

    While strictly speaking “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” is a fallacy, it is also a fairly expedient way of judging a person’s character. If someone can lie to the wife they share a bed with every single night, it is not an unreasonable assumption that he also cannot be trusted with political power. The assumption might be wrong, but it’s not unreasonable.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    What I loved about ‘Clinton and Lewinsky’ is the gloss the left put on it, where our sophisticated European partners were supposed to be impressed with an American president who was cool enough to have an affair. I suspect the Europeans were in fact hard pressed to maintain straight faces over Mr. Clinton’s adolescent-sex-fantasy practices.

  • I agree JV, but you may be missing my point: only the two partners (married or otherwise) really know whether one of them has cheated, rather than engaged in an affair with another person. For example, in Clintons’ case it is quite clear – to me, at least – that Hilary knew about Bill’s shenanigans for many years, and he knew that she knew and so on. This may not be your or my idea of a good marriage, but cheating it is not.

    My other point is that a politician does not owe an explanation of his/her sex life to anyone, other to his/her partner. Whether it is politically wise for them to say ‘none of your business’ is a different matter entirely and would depend on the case, and their own personal considerations.

  • I should have written ‘rather than merely engaged in an affair with another person’.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Fair enough Alisa, for the most part I agree with you.

    But then there’s the issue of whether a persons sexual proclivities revealing them to be a weirdo (cheater or not) has ramifications for their wider character and how they conduct themselves in other matters. If some tabloid peeked through the curtains and got some photos of a politician doing some really weird stuff (no matter how consensual), I have to say I would make me question their character more generally.

    Now that is maybe fair, or that is perhaps a failing on my part. I certainly concur that it is “none of my business”, but if it comes to my attention through means outside my control, I’m not so sure it is unfair to form judgements based on it. If someone can be shown to exercise poor judgement in the bedroom, why shouldn’t we expect they’d exercise poor judgement in parliament or the War Room.

    In the case of Clinton, I think the whole Lewinsky thing served to illustrate what there was already ample evidence for – Clinton is an asshole. But, if you hadn’t reached that conclusion after observing his handling of the Branch Davidians, then I’m not sure him diddling a staffer in the Oval Office will have swayed you.

  • if it comes to my attention through means outside my control, I’m not so sure it is unfair to form judgements based on it

    I’ve never claimed for it to be unfair, but I doubt whether it would be wise. Not sure, really.

    Agree about Clinton, although he has had (and still has) strengths as well.

  • Messed up that last sentence (tired), but I’m sure you got my point.

  • bloke in spain

    re Your comment at 9.37, Alisa, True what goes on between a couple is their private affair. Providing they keep it their private affair. When, like so many do, politicians try to sell themselves on the image of their personal lives it becomes a public affair. It was sold as the Bill & Hils lovey dovey team. If that wasn’t the truth it was mis-sold.

    If politicians insist on using their partners as election fodder, they get what they deserve. So do their partners for complicity. We’ve never asked them to do it.Upon their heads be it.

    As for M Hollande, I can’t remember him making any particular claims about his personal life. French politicians generally don’t.

    Good taste though.
    His not her’s

  • Mr Ed

    Each time on taking office, Mr Clinton took an oath to uphold the Constitution. He never took an oath to uphold his trousers, his only obligation there was moral.

    He failed on both counts.

  • My view is that as politicians intrude into the private lives of their subject people, why do they get to have a ‘private life’? I think they should be held to a totally different standard given they are the one wielding the means of collective coercion over others.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Seems to me the issue of our Chief Executive’s sexual pecadilloes while in office (both as Governor of Alabama and as President of the U.S.) also involves the question of the misuse of his “position of authority,” if not of actual power.

    It’s partly for that very reason that in the past, at least, professors were expected to refrain from having sexual relations with their students, even where the latter were over the age of consent.

    . . .

    On 8/18/98 the NYT published a piece on the Clinton sex scandals that strikes me as credible and reasonable. If anyone’s interested, it’s entitled “Testing of a President: Clinton Admits Lewinsky Liaison to Jury; Tells Nation ‘It was Wrong, but Private.'”

    http://www.nytimes.com/1998/08/18/us/testing-president-overview-clinton-admits-lewinsky-liaison-jury-tells-nation-it.html

  • Regional

    It’s obligatory for the Frogfistan President to have a mistress.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr. Ed, of course hardly anybody takes Christian marriage vows seriously these days, but I believe the Clintons (married by a Methodist minister) did take reasonably traditional wedding vows, in which the minister does read this, or words to the same effect:

    “…forsaking all others … as long as you both shall live.”

    (Actually, nowadays it should go, “… as long as you both shall live, or one of you gets tired of it. *g*)

    I take “vow” and “oath” both as having a core meaning of “making a commitment as absolute as humanly possible.” Or one can say that the Public Servant’s oath and the marriage vow both affirm their takers’ acceptance of the contract of service or of marriage, respectively.

    So yes, actually Slick Willy did promise to keep his pants up. (Although returning to a point of Alisa’s, I suppose it’s possible that he & Shrill had by mutual agreement an “open marriage” before the Loving Husband starting tomcatting around.)

  • Lee Moore

    I may be wrong, Julie, but I thought the history of professors having sex with their students was more like :

    (a) up to 1960, forbidden as the universities were run by crusty old folk who believed in God, who might fire you if they found out
    (b) 1960-1990, pretty much compulsory, lest you be thought a square
    (c) 1990-present, forbidden again due to power relation imbalance, sexual harassment, feminism and all that swaddling

  • The reason this is causing so much kerfuffle is that no powerful French politician has ever had an affair before. [eyecross]

    Come to think of it, it’s probably the first time in history that a woman has been seduced by a powerful man. [I think my eyes are stuck in that position]

    and I don’t want to read anything about any Clinton unless the phrase “died suddenly” is included.

  • mike

    Julie, I believe Clinton was the governor of Arkansas, not Alabama.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mike. Yes. I did NOT make a typo. It was the keyboard.

    Lee Moore. Right. Your Outline of History is impeccable.

    KdT. Right. I know exactly how you feel.

  • Kim, would you rather we talked about Obama? :-O

  • DICK R

    Clinton’s sordid little affair consisted largely of having ‘ one off the wrist ‘ over the phone from the oval office of all places!

  • Julie, on contracts: if you and I sign an agreement that I pay you $X per month for some service, and after a period of time we both agree to change that amount to $Y, is that change/new agreement not valid even though we did not bother to rewrite it and sign it in the presence of attorney or something of that nature? As long as both partners are content with whatever mutually-agreed arrangement they have reached (whether explicitly or not), I prefer to maintain the none-of-my-business attitude.

  • Bloke: not true. Everyone knew that Billy could not keep his pants up pretty much days after he emerged on the national stage as a POTUS candidate, and neither he nor Hilary ever pretended otherwise.

  • Perry: even if I agreed with you that we may be entitled to such information – question is, how interesting or useful it would be. I guess it would be in some cases, and not so much in others. Regardless, I still think that politician don’t owe any me such information, while I on my part don’t owe them their position.

  • Lee Moore

    Alisa : I think the point about marriage in church, as opposed to state marriage, is that it is supposed (by Church doctrine) to be more than just a contract between the two people getting married. Vows to God and the other members of the Church are either explicit or implied. Obviously different churches will have slightly different rules and vows, but if you want to look at it in legal terms it’s more like a partnership, with God and the Church as partners as well as the marrying couple, rather than a simple bipartite contract. Hence if the marrying couple agree to vary the agreement, that isn’t necessarily sufficient to produce a new agreement, without the consent of the other partners.

  • bloke in spain

    Alisa. try as I might, I’m totally failing to come up with any William (the Stud) Clinton bumper stickers from his campaign for the White House. But an awful lot of Hils ‘n Bills photo ops with added Chelsea. He doesn’t seemed to have campaigned as Mr Ever Ready or claimed the Duracell Bunny’ endorsement.
    When one’s expected to vote for a politician on the basis “We all know he’s lying.” whose responsibility is it?

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Just to be precise, my amusement isn’t with Clinton’s having an affair (movers and shakers are frequently fornicators) but with his actions, which indicated the sort of sex fantasies we guys are prone to between the time the sap rises and when we find out what’s really involved, and with the Left’s trying to pass off this rampant adolescence as sophistication.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa, I wrote: “BEFORE the Loving Husband started tomcatting around.” And my comment was specifically in response to Mr. Ed’s statement that “he never took an oath to uphold his trousers” (which is a delightfully felicitous and grin-inducing way to put it–I loved it); I was simply making a correction, that a “vow” IS an oath in its core meaning.

  • Lee, you are probably correct, speaking strictly from a Christian point of view (I think the Jewish take on it may be different), but it seems to me that a great number of people who get married in churches don’t see it this way. They are not necessarily non-believers, but they don’t see God as a real party to the agreement – maybe more like a witness and a judge. I could be wrong, of course.

  • Bloke: I don’t remember the precise time frame, but very soon after Bill emerged as a candidate, the Paula Jones affair was revealed, along with very strong and persistent insinuations that she was only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. And I don’t remember hearing any actual denials from pretty much anyone on Clinton’s side. Even when Hilary first appeared on national TV in a joint interview with her husband, she didn’t offer any strong arguments for Bill’s marital fidelity and such – what she did instead was to stress that she was an independent woman who, and I quote from memory “doesn’t just stand by her man”, etc. Now that I think of it, I am beginning to get an impression that they may have been trying to appeal to black voters on the one hand, and to appear “European” to social liberals on the other. I’d be interested to hear others’ recollections from that period.

  • And here’s the video - will watch it now.

  • Oops, that was the Gennifer Flowers affair – Paula came later. In any case, in that video he an Hilary pretty much told the world ‘none of your business’. Good for them.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    Surely, when you have a religious wedding you are summoning supernatural powers to forge this union, are you not? I think that goes way back before Christianity, in truth. No, most modern participants in weddings probably do not see it that way, and possibly most participants never did, but I think this is in there somewhere.

  • Plamus

    Alisa, I am with you on the “don’t care” part, if that had been what he said. However, he stated to a grand jury (under oath) “There’s nothing going on between us”, and consequently that that was a true statement, because “there’s” is not the same as “there is not and never has been”. I agree with him, I think the grand jury was not necessary, and I think he was very, very smart (at that point), and the jury were idiots for not asking the right question and/or pressing for a definitive answer. It all boils down to a series of events that should not have happened, but once it has happened, it is relevant to assessing the man from a voter’s perspective. It is another example of a situation with which I (and no doubt fellow libertarians here) have struggled: I find myself supporting a policy I do not like because I know what the ideal outcome would be, but it requires prerequisites that are just not there. Example: open immigration. In theory, I am all in favor of it, in the absence of a welfare state. However, we have a welfare state, and then open immigration = economic disaster.

  • bloke in spain

    I’d say, Alisa, you’re taking the very modern & progressive position that politics is a job & hence, what politicians do when they’re not at work is their own business. They’re not administrators. They’re people we entrust to make decisions on our behalf. They don’t have personal time & days off because decision making isn’t something switched on & off. It’s rooted in whole life experience. So to choose amongst politicians, it’s necessary to have some notion what that whole life experience is. Not to be mislead about it.
    Maybe, if their were less contenders for the positions, we might settle for being less intrusive into their affairs. But since there seems to be far from a shortage, what’s wrong with putting them through the full inquisition? The only requirement is to be honest. And it’s great entertainment.

  • Plamus, presuming that by grand jury you are referring to the Lewinsky affair, I absolutely agree with everything you said. It was a disgrace for everyone involved.

  • I agree, Bloke. Note that I am not saying that we should never be interested in their private affairs – it depends on the issue at hand. If for example a candidate is running on a socially-conservative agenda, his or her sexual conduct is quite relevant to his or her constituency. Of course as a libertarian I think that such issues should be outside of the realm of politics altogether, so I probably wouldn’t find myself in that constituency anyway, but that’s me.

    My larger point was though that when it comes to private affairs, a politician should always have the right to say ‘none of your business’ (unless the issue at hand is possible unlawful conduct), while the voters should have the right to make up their minds about him accordingly. Sometimes ‘no comment’ is more of a comment than any other.

  • Mr Ed

    Julie, you are right about the Clintons, but marriage at that point was only lawful between a man and a woman and there might be a loophole for Mr C, the man who smoked but didn’t inhale, perhaps he drank but didn’t swallow.

    And I was thinking only of what promise he made in respect of his conduct in office, not his personal life, but your point is fair.

  • Jacob

    What Clinton did in Paula Jones’ case was this: he pulled down his pants in front of an UN-consenting adult. This was a gross and creepy act of sexual harassment. Next he committed perjury (“never happened”), and then he engaged in defamation of Paula Jones ( a publicity hound and “bimbo”). (he admitted as much when he finally settled the case for 1 million $).

    This is not a private matter, nor a problem with his wows to his beloved wife, Hillary.

    Then – public figures renounce their privacy when they embark on a public career. I think the public has the right to know who their president sleeps with, regularly (Hollande). It’s the same as they have the right to know another “private” matter: his state of health. These thing have implications on his ability to perform his duties.
    Anyway, it there is “nothing to hide” – why the secrecy, and protests of violated privacy?

  • Lee Moore

    Settling a civil suit does not imply that you concede the claims of the plaintiff as true, it merely implies that you do not wish to expend further time, money, publicity and risk on the case. He may have harassed Paula Jones, and if a videotape should eventually surface confirming Paula Jones’s account, I for one should not be in the least surprised. But he has not admitted it.

    And, no, public figures do not renounce their privacy when they embark upon a public career. Quite what the content of one’s “privacy rights” may be is rather poorly defined, but I don’t see why a politician shouldn’t retain them, whatever they are, just like anybody else. If, for example, it is illegal to hack into someone’s mobile phone with a view to making their sexual habits public, I don’t see why it should become legal if the person is a famous politician rather than a pop singer or a bus conductor. If it is illegal to install a secret camera in Joe Public’s bathroom, I don’t see why it should be legal to install one in Peter Mandelson’s.

  • but I don’t see why a politician shouldn’t retain them, whatever they are, just like anybody else.

    But politicians are not like everyone else. They are the people with their hands on the means of collective coercion and that means they should not be treated ‘like everyone else’.

  • Perry, if as a minarchist you are going to accept that there will in fact be politicians, than you should probably make them as useful as you can, while minimizing the damage they can inflict. I fail to see how invading their privacy just because you can (as opposed to when it may be necessary) makes them either more useful or less damaging.

  • It is not about ‘just because you can’ but rather if these people want to be the ones who point the state’s guns at everyone else and tell them what they have to do, then every aspect of their character and their every action should be there for all to see and judge. If they want to be ‘like normal people’ and have a private life then they should get out if politics, which is the struggle to control the means of collective coercion. They intrude in to everyone else’s private lives in oh so much of what they do, so why should they get to have a private life?

  • You may be missing my point, Perry. I am not talking about what is fair – and I do agree with you on that point. I am talking about what is wise. Incidentally, I am much less of a minarchist than you are, and I’d much rather there were no politicians at all – I think that would be best both from the POV of fairness and of wisdom. But if we are going to accept the mechanism of politics as a necessary evil, then lets not make that mechanism dysfunctional by making the life of people who do take part in it (hopefully in very small numbers) unnecessarily miserable. So in my humble opinion we should err on the side of relevance. Meaning, there is a legitimate reason for me to know whether the Clintons cheated on their tax returns, or whether they were complicit in murder. But I don’t see a legitimate reason to know whether Bill did or did not have a consensual relationship with that woman. Also, (and to address one of Jacob’s points), a civil suit such as the one brought by Paula Jones certainly falls within the first category, the reason being that it was not about sex per se, but about consent or lack thereof.