Research Paper: Clinton's Lewinsky Speech Presidential Scandal

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[. . .] He was lying blatantly about all of this, especially claiming to have no memory of many of these events, such as the diversion of money to the Contras. After all, Reagan and many others had been soliciting money for them from private sources in the U.S. And all over the world, even though Congress had made it illegal. Nevertheless, Reagan truly was the Great Communicator, far more so than Nixon, and as a former actor knew how to play the part and look the part of a president and could seem 'authentic' in his every utterance. Nixon's image was always one of deceit and insincerity, while Reagan was very experienced at projecting a facade of warmth, honesty and sincerity that his disgraced predecessor could never have done. In both cases, it was not simply a matter of the words they spoke, but how they appeared on television when they gave their speeches.

He opened his speech trying to set a tone of trust and sincerity, saying to his fellow Americans "your trust is what gives a president his powers of leadership and his personal strength, and it's what I want to talk to you about this evening." First he had to manipulate his audience and the evidence by giving them a very partial and distorted version of his dealings with Iran over the past seven years, and perhaps even before his election in 1980. At that time, fifty-three Americans were still being held hostage in Iran, and President Jimmy Carter had been humiliated by a failed rescue attempt. He was now trying to negotiate to get them freed, and it is very likely that some of Reagan's advisors made contact with Iranian officials in order to stall and delay the release until after the election in November. In fact, the hostages landed in Washington at almost the exact hour when Regan was being sworn in 1981, and his secret contacts, negotiations and arm's sales to Iran had been ongoing for six years after that. Naturally, he informed his TV audience of none of this, even though revelations had been appearing in the media for three months about secret arm's deals and negotiations with the Iranian regime. He had been silent all this time and conceded that "I've paid a price for my silence in terms of your trust and confidence." This was true, but then he immediately transitioned into another lie by claiming that "but I've had to wait, as you have, for the complete story."

Reagan already knew far more of that story than the American public ever will, unless perhaps some of the records are ever declassified in the decades ahead. It suited his political needs to claim that his Special Counselor and Special Review Board under the leadership of the conservative Senator John Tower had been busily "pulling the truth together for me and getting to the bottom of things." That was completely false, as later Congressional investigations demonstrated, at least in part, but this Board found him to be very truthful and eager for "the full story to be told," which it never has been yet. Reagan than went on that he found the Board's report "honest, convincing, and highly critical; and I accept them." After taking "full responsibility" for his actions, he also expressed disappointment in his officials, who had dutifully taken all the blame on themselves. He claimed that all the laundered money, secret bank accounts and diverted funds were "personally distasteful," as if he had not ordered that all of this be done.

He saved the most disturbing part of the speech for the middle, after getting all of these preliminaries out of the way. He had denied trading arms to the Iranians in order the free hostages that their allies were holding in Lebanon, which was a criminal offense under federal law. Even after that claim had been publicly proven and admitted to be false, he still said that "my heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not." Although he did admit part of the truth about the real policy over the past six years, why was to make high-level contacts in Iran in hopes of improving relations after the Ayatollah Khomeini was gone from the scene, he conceded that "what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages. This runs counter to my own beliefs, to administration policy, and the original strategy we had in mind." Reagan had felt a "personal concern" for the hostages, who were generally thought to be CIA agents working in Lebanon, and then covered himself again from being impeached or indicted by asserting that "I didn't ask enough about the specifics of the total Iran plan."

Supposedly, the Tower Board was unable to find out what happened to the money sent to the Contras, or so he claimed, but in reality Richard Secord and other used it to buy them weapons and supplies at high prices, taking large commissions in the process. Reagan now all about this but never admitted it. Once again, he lied about breaking another federal law by saying that "I didn't know about any diversion of funds to the Contras. But as president, I cannot escape responsibility." For these illegal and unethical activities that he had ordered, Reagan now blamed his management style, which was to set overall policies and goals and then just stand back and let his officials deal with it. In this case, however, he had indeed been very interested in finding ways to assist the Contras as much as possible, even though Congress had cut off their funding -- and with good reason since they regularly tortured and murdered civilians.

Now that he had been caught in various lies and illegal actions, he had decided to turn over a new leaf and informed that NSC that he "wanted a policy that reflected the will of the Congress as well as the White House. And I told them that there'll be no more freelancing by individuals when it comes to our national security." His statement that no one on the NSC "kept proper records of meetings or decisions," which was not only untrue but ludicrous, given that they had been caught shredding and destroying those records -- and deliberately falsifying them. Col. North and others even admitted that they destroyed then because they did not intend to make any incriminating records available to Congress and the media. Most conveniently for Reagan, this absence of records "led to my failure to recollect whether I approved an arms shipment before or after the fact. I did approve it; I just can't say specifically when." No matter, though, since he assured that public that "rest assured, there's plenty of record- keeping now going on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue." He replaced his Chief of Staff with Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee, who had become famous during Watergate for asking "what did the president know and when did he know it?"

William Webster had replaced the deceased William Casey as head of the CIA, who had died recently without revealing any information about the Reagan administration's covert wars. He announced a review of all covert operations, as if he was not quite aware of all of them and in fact had ordered them, and "directed that any covert activity be in support of clear policy objectives and in compliance with American values." Reagan had Vice President Bush, a long-time CIA officer and former Director, review the policies on terrorism, which Reagan had violated completely in his secret dealings with Iran over the last six years. Even worse, Bush was actually in change of most of the covert operations on a day-to-day basis, especially those in Central America, but neither he nor Reagan ever admitted to any of this. Even when Bush was elected president in his own right in 1988, almost all of his record of involvement in CIA operations going back at least to the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 was kept secret from the public, Congress and the media.

Reagan had indeed been running the CIA, NSC and other agencies involved in covert operations all over the world like the Cold War cowboy that he was. In later years, it was revealed that CIA Director William Casey had even been running armed operations inside the Soviet Union that could have led to a world war, but Reagan mentioned none of this. Instead, he promised restraint and reforms. He appointed a legal advisor "to assure a greater sensitivity to matters of the law," which he had not cared about in the slightest for the past six years, and was "also determined to make the congressional oversight process work," even though he had completely ignored Congress and attempted to bypass its authority at every turn. Indeed, once he was out of office,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Clinton's Lewinsky Speech Presidential Scandal.  (2012, March 28).  Retrieved July 17, 2019, from

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"Clinton's Lewinsky Speech Presidential Scandal."  28 March 2012.  Web.  17 July 2019. <>.

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"Clinton's Lewinsky Speech Presidential Scandal."  March 28, 2012.  Accessed July 17, 2019.