Comment of the Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Week: Bill Clinton”


Rich (in CT) delivered a masterpiece yesterday, and a remarkably bold one: I have never seen anyone, pundit, logician, jurist or linguist, attempt to plum the machinations of Bill Clinton’s deceitful arts when he is in top form. Yet astoundingly Rich dissected yesterday’s classic Unethical Quote of the Week from Bubba professing, well, something regarding the Clintons’ various maneuvers  through the devise of the Clinton Foundation, and all I can do is radiate awe.

For the record, that quote was, “There is no doubt in my mind that we have never done anything knowingly inappropriate in terms of taking money to influence any kind of American government policy. That just hasn’t happened.” 

Here is Rich (in CT)’s Comment of the Day, my early favorite for COTD of the Year (but I am biased: the Clintons’ flagrant and joyous celebration of their ethics vacuum fascinates me almost as much as the fact that so many otherwise intelligent people don’t recognize it, though it is as obvious, and almost as long-standing, as the Grand Canyon), on the post, Unethical Quote of the Week : Bill Clinton:

Let’s try a flow chart!

>> “There is no doubt in my mind that”:
>>>> “we have never done”:
>>>>>> “anything knowingly inappropriate”:
>>>>>>>> “in terms of taking money”:
>>>>>>>>>> “to influence”:
>>>>>>>>>>>> “any kind of American government policy”.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>> “That just hasn’t happened”.

Parsing the logic:

 > “There is no doubt in my mind that”: [He doubts nothing that follows]

>>>> “we have never done”: [He has never done exactly what follows]

>>>>>> “anything knowingly inappropriate”:

[Leaves open the possibility that they did something UNknowingly inappropriate (though carefully NOT unknowABLY)]

 > >>>>>>> “in terms of taking money”:

[Limiting the scope of his claim purely to the domain of the use of the money, leaving open the possibility of unethical behavior elsewhere]

          >>>>>>>>>>>>> “to influence”:

[Further limiting the scope to the domain of “influence”; leaving open the possibility of knowingly inappropriate use of money elsewhere]

         >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> “any kind of American government policy”.

[Leaving open the possibility of inappropriate use of money to buy/sell influence elsewhere]

         >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> “That just hasn’t happened”.

[Phrased to sound like a categorical denial (a potential marker of a true statement), but semantically limited to (“just”) the exact conditions above]

This masterpiece leaves open the possibility that the Clintons:

  • Unknowingly but still inappropriately accepted money for any purpose (including possibly to influence public policy)
  • Knowingly or unknowingly (but still appropriately) accepted money that would have inappropriately influenced their decisions regarding other matters not directly applicable to public policy.

And, it could still be a lie!

(They might still have knowingly accepted money meant to influence public policy, despite their precise denial of this and only this.)

But the statement itself would only have been a very small lie – carefully neither admitting nor denying any other potential wrong doing!

Just for fun; compare:

>>I did not have:

[An absolute denial]

>>>>sexual relations with

[of an ambiguous set of activities]

>>>>>>that woman

[avoiding naming a party that could contradict]


Graphic: Yadkin K12

8 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Week: Bill Clinton”

  1. Clinton’s escape clauses *count on * the listeners having poor comprehension of English, with the LIV’s out there not a bad tactic.
    He only looks bad to people with *something on the ball* !

  2. That stuff Bill said just rolls off Clintons’ tongues. No premeditation or practice by them is necessary. They know what they have to say, before they know they have to say it. They know that what they say will secure the best for them, before anyone even begins to deconstruct it. They know that whatever they say, they can and do, merely by saying it, cover themselves in innocence with regard to anything they have ever done or ever will do.

    The Clintons can get away with anything. Haven’t we learned YET?

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