> The REAL Definition of "IS"
Actually, most people have heard this quote out of context. The way this
sound bite was spread around, it sounds ludicrous.. The actual
interrogation was much more logical and lawyerly legalistic. Not to defend
Clinton, but just to provide "the rest of the story....". (These are gross
paraphrases from my memory, not real quotes, but the meaning is the same.)
Prosecutor: From the previous court transcript, you were asked "Is there
any affair with Ms. Lewinski?" To which you answered, "No, there is no
affair with Ms. Lewinski." In a later deposition, when reviewing that same
question, you admitted that there was an affair at one time with Ms.
Lewinski. Doesn't this prove that you committed perjury, and didn't you
admit to it while under oath to tell the truth?
President: Not at all. The answer to the question depends on what the
definition of the word "is" is. If you take the word to mean its proper
English meaning of present-tense existence, then my answer was correct. At
the time the question was first asked, my involvement with Ms. Lewinski had
long been terminated. I could not say "There is an affair", because that
would have been untrue. I could only say "There was an affair". That would
have been true, but that question was never asked.
Prosecutor: Weren't you sworn to tell the truth, including the whole truth?
President: Yes, but only in response to questions asked of me. No
defendant is required under law to answer questions that have not been
Prosecutor: Then why did you expand your answer to admit to an earlier
affair when you were asked the identical question at a later deposition?
President: The question was reinterpreted. Although the question was read
out of the prior transcript so that it would be the same question again, I
was instructed to interpret the word "is" to also include all past-tense
occurrences as well. This was a different interpretation of the question,
since I had not previously interpreted the word "is" to be a past-tense
verb. The reinterpreted question now asked if I currently had or ever
previously had an affair with Ms. Lewinski. I answered that question
truthfully. I said "At one time there was an affair with Ms. Lewinski.
Presently, there is no affair with Ms. Lewinski." Both answers were
truthful and complete. The change was in the redefinition of the question,
not in a redefinition of my answer.
-- Harvey Newstrom <http://harveynewstrom.com> Certified Consultant, Legal Hacker, Engineer, Research Scientist, Author.
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