The Tale Of The Tapes

Monday's release of the videotape of President Clinton's grand jury testimony may reveal a very different side of the president than the one he has shown while in office. A commentary by CBS 'Face The Nation' Anchor Bob Schieffer.

Finally, it has come down to tapes again.

As Eliza Dolittle might have put it, for Richard Nixon it was the tapes what done him in.

Will it be the same new for Bill Clinton? Will Americans look at the videotape and conclude their president is a liar?

A person who has seen the tape says the president's tortured explanation of how he did not have sex with Monica Lewinsky as he defines the term, is laughable.

Now that lawyers have released the statement the president read to the grand jury about that, I can understand why. It reads as if his parents forgot to tell him about the birds and bees.

I've also been told that when the president rips into the prosecutors about how he's been unfairly hounded by Ken Starr, he is convincing. It is a possibility that the tapes may generate sympathy for the president and create a backlash against Starr and the Republicans.

The irony here is that there would have been no tape if the president had gone to the courthouse to testify. There are no cameras inside the grand jury room.

However, the White House damage control team thought it would look bad to see the president photographed going into the courthouse. They struck a deal back in August to have him questioned before a camera inside the White House.

Didn't they consider then the consequences of videotape? Of course they did, but the Clinton damage control strategy has always been to do or say whatever is necessary to resolve the problem of the moment. If that creates a problem tomorrow, then worry about it tomorrow. Well, here comes tomorrow.

Reported By Bob Schieffer
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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