The Tapes at Last

Finally today, as I watched the videotapes roll during the impeachment trial Saturday, it reminded me of the reporter's first rule for telling a story: when you can get the people involved to tell the tale, stay out of the way and let them do the talking.

We already knew most of what unfolded Saturday, but when you saw and heard the President of the United States declare under oath that he knew nothing about his best friend Vernon Jordan's effort to find Monica Lewinsky a job and then you saw and heard best friend Jordan say there was no question in his mind that he was running the job search at Mr. Clinton's request, well, it was hard to miss the point.

Just as it was hard to miss the point when you saw the replay of the president saying he never had sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky, played back-to-back with her declaration that phone calls from the president at 2:30 in the morning were routine.

It has been clear for a while now that Mr. Clinton will not be removed from office, and that's probably as it should be. None of this had to do with overthrowing the government or treason and such. But what the tapes drove home is that we're going to be stuck with a president who doesn't hesitate to bend the truth even to his best friends when the need arises. That's a little unsettling when you stop to think about it.