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An Affair of State: The Investigation, Impeachment, and Trial of President Clinton Paperback – Dec 1 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; New edition edition (Dec 1 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674003918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674003910
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 1.6 x 23.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,329,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

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Richard Posner is a top-ranking member of the United States judiciary and one of the most highly respected legal theorists and philosophers. In An Affair of State, he turns his attention to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, which stemmed from charges of perjury and obstruction of justice regarding statements about his adulterous relationship with former White House staffer Monica Lewinsky. While Posner focuses on the actual legal issues involved rather than attempt to make a case for Clinton's or any of his Republican adversaries' being evil incarnate, he does not treat the president with kid gloves. Not only does Posner claim that Clinton is a brazen liar who "flaunts his religiosity, but gives religion a bad name," he makes a strong case that the charges of perjury against the president were valid, "that [he] in several instances obstructed justice in a legal sense, and that he has never admitted lying about his relationship with Lewinsky." Along the way, Posner considers several fascinating topics, including whether the president can pardon himself--theoretically, except in cases of impeachment, he can--and even, on occasion, displays a subtle dry wit. (Among the best one-liners: "[Alan] Dershowitz criticizes Clinton, but largely for the blunders he committed in trying to conceal his affair ... and implicitly for not having retained Dershowitz as legal advisor.") An Affair of State is the smartest, most level-headed book written to date about what Posner calls "the whole Clinton-Lewinsky-Starr-impeachment business"; it is likely to retain that status for some time to come. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

By far the most legally sophisticated account of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal yet published, Posner's book brings scholarly rigor to a saga so far dominated by journalistic accounts. As Chief Judge of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Posner is more than qualified to wade through the 8000-page Starr Report. Indeed, he brandishes acumen, wit and a practical and theoretical understanding of the legal and constitutional issues involved. Posner writes, at times, like a judge composing an appellate court opinion. He's very critical of the House Judiciary Committee for, among other perceived lapses of judgment and intellect, failing to understand the technical distinction between perjury and obstruction of justice. But he's harsh on President Clinton, too, and generally exhibits an ability to expose the arguments generated by Republicans, Democrats, the press and Starr's office as inconsistent, politically motivated or simply fallacious. Posner anticipates criticisms that his book creates certain tensions between his position as one of the most influential judges in the U.S. and the censorious quality of his appraisal of l'affaire Clinton. Readers can be thankful that he dismissed any scruples and proceeded to write this welcome analysis of the constitutional, moral, philosophical, and political questions the case raised. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The year-long political, legal, constitutional, and cultural struggle that began on January 21, 1998, when the world learned that Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was investigating charges that President Clinton had committed perjury and other crimes of obstruction of justice (primarily subornation of perjury and witness tampering) in an effort to conceal a sexual affair with a young White House worker named Monica Lewinsky, is the most riveting chapter of recent American history. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
Judge Posner has written a concise and accurate analysis of the impeachment and trial of President Clinton, and included thorough and accurate assessments of all parties involved. Judge Posner concludes that the articles of impeachment filed against the President were indeed within the realm of high crimes and misdemeanors; additionally, Judge Posner argues that, contrary to popular spin, the actions of the President went beyond that of a private matter, bringing shame, disgrace, and disruption to the executive office -- actions which by themselves supported impeachment. Of most interest, however, is Judge Posner's excoriating portrayal of all parties involved. A president, who deliberately lied to the nation, his family, his cabinet, and his supporters, in a blatant effort to obstruct justice. A prosecutor, who failed in his effort at developing a strong case against the president, provided an overly lurid account of the case, and then buried the record in mountains of evidence. A house of representatives, incapable of developing accurate articles of impeachment, and then failing miserably in the prosecution of the case in the senate. A senate, so inept as to have never developed appropriate rules for an impeachment trial. And finally, partisan groups from both sides, who in the urge to defend or defeat the president, daily set forth on a path of lies and insinuations, often with the sole purpose of damaging the characters of individuals under media glare. The book is well worth reading, and is an excellent reminder of the damage an impeachment trial can do. Readers who are further interested in impeachment generally should consider Michael J. Gerhardt's The Federal Impeachment Process: A Constitutional and Historical Analysis.
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Format: Paperback
Posner promises to rip the cover off the impeachment process by sorting through the spin and uncovering the truth of what Clinton was charged with, what he did, and how the impeachment process worked.
As a judge, he does a magnificent job (especially as he completed this book within days of the final vote) of cutting to the quick of the legal charges against Clinton, and examining the evidence that pretty undisputably proves Clinton "guilty".
But, and this is a very big but, his strength as a judge is Posner's weakness as a historian. He assumes, without proving, that the true issue in impeachment is (or should be) the legal issue. He virtually ignores the competing view, that the key issue is (and should be) political. Only by reading this book in combination with Rhenquit's history of the Samuel Chase and Andrew Johnson impeachments can you get a more rounded view.
As a matter of law, Clinton was guilty. However, we were not involved in a criminal trial. We were deciding whether to remove this country's highest elected official. This is a highly political question, to which the legal issues are relevent, but hardly decisive.
By failing to grapple honestly with this dichotomy, Posner's book ultimately falls short of being the definitive work on impeachment it could have been, given his incisive analysis of th elegal issues and the evidence.
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Format: Paperback
Judge Posner promises a far-reaching analysis of the impeachment and trial of President Clinton. In his introduction, he notes that the "ordeal" presented numerous axes of analysis: issues of law, issues of jurisprudence, issues of morality, theories of conflict, issues of political and cultural sociology. (p. 3)
In applying these analytical perspectives to the particular issues raised within the context of President Clinton's impeachment, I think Judge Posner does an excellent job at cutting through the political spin and identifying the essential legal points. He deftly exposes "it's all about sex" as the dishonest mantra that Clinton supporters, such as James Carville, used to divert the public's attention away from the basic legal issues. His discussion of the relevant legal charges--obstruction of justice and perjury--is clear and accessible. Once the political spin is redacted, the conclusion is inescapable--Clinton committed perjury and thus violated the law.
Yet Judge Posner's book is ultimately dissatisfying. His book promises more than it delivers, and what I think is a significant issue--the nature of impeachment as it has been understood and used within the American constitutional order--remains relatively untouched by Posner's book. This is frustrating.
Beyond passing references to Samuel Chase and Andrew Johnson, Judge Posner never discusses their impeachment or their resulting trials. He notes the distinction between impeachment standards for judges versus the President, but he never discusses in any detail the impeachment and conviction of any judges. (The only discussion is Judge Posner's reference to Judge Nixon's impeachment and conviction for perjury in 1989, but this is made in a single-sentence footnote on page 103.
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Format: Paperback
Judge Posner promises a far-reaching analysis of the impeachment and trial of President Clinton. In his introduction, he notes that the "ordeal" presented numerous axes of analysis: issues of law, issues of jurisprudence, issues of morality, theories of conflict, issues of political and cultural sociology. (p. 3)
In applying these analytical perspectives to the particular issues raised within the context of President Clinton's impeachment, I think Judge Posner does an excellent job at cutting through the political spin and identifying the essential points. He deftly exposes "it's all about sex" as the dishonest mantra that Clinton supporters, such as James Carville, used to divert the public's attention away from the basic legal issues. His discussion of the relevant legal charges--obstruction of justice and perjury--is clear and accessible. Once the political spin is redacted, the conclusion is inescapable--Clinton committed perjury and thus violated the law.
Yet Judge Posner's book is ultimately dissatisfying. His book promises more than it delivers, and what I think is a significant issue--the nature of impeachment as it has been understood and used within the American constitutional order--remains relatively untouched by Posner's book. This is frustrating.
Beyond passing references to Samuel Chase and Andrew Johnson, Judge Posner never discusses their impeachment or their resulting trials. He notes the distinction between impeachment standards for judges versus the President, but he never discusses in any detail the impeachment and conviction of any judges. (The only discussion is Judge Posner's reference to Judge Nixon's impeachment and conviction for perjury in 1989, but this is made in a single-sentence footnote on page 103.
Read more ›
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