The first version of this page was posted 20 January 1998 and contained only the Clinton letter and Colonel Holmes's memo but did indicate that a personal essay was to be added later. Even without the essay, the page supported my "gay ban" writings which justified my posting the page "as is."
The second version which finally included an admittedly incomplete, imperfect personal essay was posted 25 February 1999 in the wake of Clinton's impeachment trial. Though flawed, the essay partially made my case against Clinton by somewhat explaining why I distrusted and opposed him and was offered for the benefit of those who thought that I and my ilk were simply "out to get the President" or just "trying to overturn an election."
This third version was originally posted 12 July 2000 with a revised, expanded, ostensibly complete personal essay. The personal essay was slightly revised 27 March 2001 to reflect the end of the Clinton presidency. This essay is my attempt to provide a definitive explanation of the origins of my loathing of all things Clinton. Also, it clearly and succinctly explains how so many veterans and servicemembers found themselves still loving their country and the military but loathing the Commander-in-Chief.
Of course, no explanation, regardless of its validity or truthfulness, will satisfy the Clintonistas and other Clinton apologists. For as long as they live, or at least live in denial, the minions of Clinton will demonize his critics as "Clinton haters" who are so full of "Clinton hate" that they can't live without "Clinton hating." Well, I for one am proud to be a "Clinton hater" because that means I'm on the side of righteousness.
Bill Clinton Can Never Be Trusted
by Matt Wallace
When Bill Clinton announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President in 1991, I knew of him but didn't know much about him. I knew that he was Governor of Arkansas and was active in the moderate Democratic Leadership Council, but I didn't like something about him. I couldn't articulate this animus as it was merely an intuitive, gut-level reaction.
I was registered "Unaffiliated" from 1980 through the summer of 1992 but generally voted Democratic. In the six biennial elections from 1980 through 1990, the number of Republicans I voted for can be counted on something less than ten fingers. What else would you expect from the son and grandson of retired Teamsters and a native Tar Heel. I grew up blue-collar, union, and Southern; I don't think I have to say Democrat. Even so, in 1988 when I was in the Army, I had split my ballot to vote for George Bush as my Commander-in-Chief, and I was supporting his reelection in 1992 both for that reason and as a newly registered Republican.
My interest in the 1992 Democratic Presidential primaries was the determination of Bush's opponent in the general election. From the beginning, Clinton seemed to stick out. He admitted to having tried marijuana but incredulously claimed he "didn't inhale." In the wake of the exposure of his affair with Gennifer Flowers, with Hillary Rodham faithfully by his side, he admitted to causing "pain" in his marriage in the infamous Super Bowl Sunday 60 Minutes "Stand By Your Man" interview. I found these and other such revelations to be amusing sidelights which were of little personal consequence to me.
As a veteran, my ears pricked up when Clinton's draft status during the Vietnam War became an issue in the New Hampshire primary. While under a media siege upon arrival at an airport, he explained, "I registered, I wasn't drafted, I didn't serve." I accepted this explanation at face value and even was impressed favorably that he had submitted to the military draft and hadn't "burned his draft card." I considered the subject closed and a nonissue.
After Clinton had won the Democratic nomination, the discovery and publication of the incriminating letter he wrote to Colonel Eugene J. Holmes in 1969 reopened the draft issue. Contrary to his explanation during the primaries, this letter clearly indicated by his own words that he had been drafted. The letter not only rendered "inoperative" his earlier account of his experience with the Vietnam-era draft but raised questions concerning his consequently not having served in the military contrary to his legal obligation to do so.
Clinton and his campaign staff went into full damage control mode. Among the media appearances he made was a Nightline interview which included Ted Koppel reading the 1969 letter in Clinton's presence; Clinton made no attempt to disavow his youthful letter or distance himself from it. This was the first time I ever heard the letter's contents, and I was troubled by both the tone of the letter and the implications of some of its content. Though my concerns had been heightened, the letter's impact was softened by Koppel's reading.
I soon acquired a printed copy of the letter so I finally could read it for myself. For the first time, I experienced it unfiltered, unmitigated, raw. I was immediately struck by how extraordinarily self-important and self-aggrandizing this letter was, especially coming from a 23-year-old college boy. No one is that critically important in his or her twenties, and Bill Clinton certainly wasn't either, his untapped potential and subsequent accomplishments notwithstanding.
After using four paragraphs to sketch out his "principled" opposition to the military draft, he incredibly admitted, "I decided to accept the draft in spite of my beliefs for one reason: to maintain my political viability within the system." This youthful confession was a warning resounding across the years for all who would heed it. Never, ever trust anyone who would readily surrender an avowed principle in exchange for such base self-interest! Such an individual is inherently untrustworthy, thus completely unfit for any position of trust.
While the preceding portions of the letter had been troubling at worst, the penultimate paragraph truly angered me. His comment about the "many fine people," himself included of course, who found "themselves still loving their country but loathing the military" was simply disingenuous. One cannot love one's country while "loathing" the very people whose sacrifices, both historically and contemporarily, made that country possible.
Furthermore, this comment suggests that the military not only exists independently of the country but is an alien entity at odds with it. Throughout its history, the American military has been completely subordinate to civilian authority and has served solely as a means to enforce the will of that authority. All servicemembers swear or affirm first and foremost that they will "support and defend" and "bear true faith and allegiance" to the Constitution. Making a distinction between "the military" and the country is as ludicrous as asserting that one's muscles aren't part of one's body! The military's presence in Southeast Asia and its conduct of the Vietnam War were at the sole discretion of the President and the Congress operating under the authority granted to them by the Constitution, hence the American people.
My eight years of service, both active and reserve, included a four-year enlistment split between Cold War Germany and the States and nine months as an activated reservist at Ft. Bragg during the Gulf War. As a soldier, I recognized myself as part of a brotherhood that stretched from the Continental Army to the present. As a soldier, I understood that my duty was to do whatever was required to preserve the Republic which had been entrusted into my care until I passed that responsibility on to my successors. Accordingly, Bill Clinton's "loathing the military" of the Vietnam era extended to the military of every era.
For these reasons, Clinton's "loathing the military" comment was an insult to all American veterans from the Revolution to Vietnam and beyond, and I took it personally as a veteran. In both war and peace, we veterans gave up far too much during our service to our country and our people to have it impugned by a lying draft dodger!
Though his letter was turning me increasingly hostile, I gave Clinton an opportunity to explain himself when I watched his live interview with Tom Brokaw on his Brokaw Report on 5 September 1992. He revised his previous comments, or at least with words to the effect, "I registered, I got a draft notice, it was deferred when I went into the ROTC, I decided against ROTC, I went back into the draft, I wasn't drafted, I didn't serve." He concluded, "That's the same story I've been telling all along." Of course, it wasn't, and willing accomplice Brokaw didn't call him on an obvious lie.
As Clinton spoke, I realized that his earlier explanation had been deliberately something less than the full truth. I gradually comprehended the full significance of the 1969 letter, and my anger grew accordingly. As he concluded, my understanding achieved critical mass. I exploded out of my chair and yelled at the television at the top of my lungs, "THE FUCK IT IS!" I followed with an equally loud and vociferous tirade of epithets and profanity that no doubt could be heard down the block. After completely venting my rage, I finally knew what made me so uncomfortable with him: Bill Clinton is a pathological liar. He lied about his drug use; he lied about his adultery; he lied about his draft dodging; he lied about damn near everything!
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette columnist Paul Greenberg has written that for everyone there is a moment when they realize what Bill Clinton is. My moment came during a warm, late summer evening when I realized that he is nothing but a fundamentally dishonest, wholly loathsome bastard who can never be trusted on any matter save the service of his own selfish interests.
Over the eight years of his presidency, Bill Clinton's actions not merely reinforced this insight but revealed far worse. His dishonesty is but one of the defenses of his deep-seated psychopathy which manifests itself in his wide-ranging abuse of women, his callous disregard for the trust and loyalty of his subordinates and supporters, his wanton contempt for justice and the rule of law, his demonization of his political opponents, his hypocritical use of "the politics of personal destruction" against his perceived enemies, his abject inability to accept genuine responsibility for the consequences of his actions, his corruption of both civic culture and political discourse, and on and on.
He isn't simply an inveterate liar; Bill Clinton is evil incarnate.
As a Rhodes scholar, Bill Clinton wrote this letter, dated December 3, 1969, to Colonel Eugene J. Holmes, Commandant of the ROTC program at the University of Arkansas, detailing how he deceived Col. Holmes in order to dodge the draft. Transcribed from The Congressional Record--House, July 30, 1993, p. H5550.
Text of Bill Clinton's Letter to ROTC Colonel
I am sorry to be so long in writing. I know I promised to let you hear from me at least once a month, and from now on you will, but I have had to have some time to think about this first letter. Almost daily since my return to England I have thought about writing, about what I want to and ought to say.
First, I want to thank you, not just for saving me from the draft, but for being so kind and decent to me last summer, when I was as low as I have ever been. One thing which made the bond we struck in good faith somewhat palatable to me was my high regard for you personally. In retrospect, it seems that the admiration might not have been mutual had you known a little more about me, about my political beliefs and activities. At least you might have thought me more fit for the draft than for ROTC.
Let me try to explain. As you know, I worked for two years in a very minor position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I did it for the experience and the salary but also for the opportunity, however small, of working every day against a war I opposed and despised with a depth of feeling I had reserved solely for racism in America before Vietnam. I did not take the matter lightly but studied it carefully, and there was a time when not many people had more information about Vietnam at hand than I did.
I have written and spoken and marched against the war. One of the national organizers of the Vietnam Moratorium is a close friend of mine. After I left Arkansas last summer, I went to Washington to work in the national headquarters of the Moratorium, then to England to organize the Americans here for demonstrations Oct. 15 and Nov. 16.
Interlock with the war is the draft issue, which I did not begin to consider separately until early 1968. For a law seminar at Georgetown I wrote a paper on the legal arguments for and against allowing, within the Selective Service System, the classification of selective conscientious objection for those opposed to participation in a particular war, not simply to "participation in war in any form."
From my work I came to believe that the draft system itself is illegitimate. No government really rooted in limited, parliamentary democracy should have the power to make its citizens fight and kill and die in a war they may oppose, a war which even possibly may be wrong, a war which, in any case, does not involve immediately the peace and freedom of the nation.
The draft was justified in World War II because the life of the people collectively was at stake. Individuals had to fight, if the nation was to survive, for the lives of their countrymen and their way of life. Vietnam is no such case. Nor was Korea an example where, in my opinion, certain military action was justified but the draft was not, for the reasons stated above.
Because of my opposition to the draft and the war, I am in great sympathy with those who are not willing to fight, kill and maybe die for their country (i.e. the particular policy of a particular government) right or wrong. Two of my friends at Oxford are conscientious objectors. I wrote a letter of recommendation for one of them to his Mississippi draft board, a letter which I am more proud of than anything else I wrote at Oxford last year. One of my roommates is a draft resister who is possibly under indictment and may never be able to go home again. He is one of the bravest, best men I know. His country needs men like him more than they know. That he is considered a criminal is an obscenity.
The decision not to be a resister and the related subsequent decisions were the most difficult of my life. I decided to accept the draft in spite of my beliefs for one reason: to maintain my political viability within the system. For years I have worked to prepare myself for a political life characterized by both practical political ability and concern for rapid social progress. It is a life I still feel compelled to try to lead. I do not think our system of government is by definition corrupt, however dangerous and inadequate it has been in recent years. (The society may be corrupt, but that is not the same thing, and if that is true, we are all finished anyway.)
When the draft came, despite political convictions, I was having a hard time facing the prospect of fighting a war I had been fighting against, and that is why I contacted you. ROTC was the one way left in which I could possibly, but not positively, avoid both Vietnam and resistance. Going on with my education, even coming back to England, played no part in my decision to join ROTC. I am back here, and would have been at Arkansas Law School because there is nothing else I can do. In fact, I would like to have been able to take a year out perhaps to teach in a small college or work on some community action project and in the process to decide whether to attend law school or graduate school and how to begin putting what I have learned to use.
But the particulars of my personal life are not nearly as important to me as the principles involved. After I signed the ROTC letter of intent, I began to wonder whether the compromise I had made with myself was not more objectionable than the draft would have been, because I had no interest in the ROTC program in itself and all I seemed to have done was to protect myself from physical harm. Also, I began to think I had deceived you, not by lies--there were none--but by failing to tell you all the things I'm writing now. I doubt that I had the mental coherence to articulate them then.
At that time, after we had made our agreement and you had sent my 1-D deferment to my draft board, the anguish and loss of my self-regard and self-confidence really set in. I hardly slept for weeks and kept going by eating compulsively and reading until exhaustion brought sleep. Finally, on Sept. 12 I stayed up all night writing a letter to the chairman of my draft board, saying basically what is in the preceding paragraph, thanking him for trying to help in a case where he really couldn't, and stating that I couldn't do the ROTC after all and would he please draft me as soon as possible.
I never mailed the letter, but I did carry it on me every day until I got on the plane to return to England. I didn't mail the letter because I didn't see, in the end, how my going in the Army and maybe going to Vietnam would achieve anything except a feeling that I had punished myself and gotten what I deserved. So I came back to England to try to make something of this second year of my Rhodes scholarship.
And that is where I am now, writing to you because you have been good to me and have a right to know what I think and feel. I am writing too in the hope that my telling this one story will help you to understand more clearly how so many fine people have come to find themselves still loving their country but loathing the military, to which you and other good men have devoted years, lifetimes, of the best service you could give. To many of us, it is no longer clear what is service and what is disservice, or if it is clear, the conclusion is likely to be illegal.
Forgive the length of this letter. There was much to say. There is still a lot to be said, but it can wait. Please say hello to Col. Jones for me.
During the 1992 Presidential campaign, in response to Bill Clinton's continued dissembling on the issue, Colonel Eugene J. Holmes wrote this notarized memorandum for record detailing how Clinton deceived him in 1969 in order to dodge the draft. Transcribed from The Congressional Record--House, July 30, 1993, pp. H5550-1.
Memorandum for Record by Colonel Eugene J. Holmes
September 7, 1992
Memorandum for Record
Subject: Bill Clinton and the University of Arkansas ROTC Program
There have been many unanswered questions as to the circumstances surrounding Bill Clinton's involvement with the ROTC department at the University of Arkansas. Prior to this time I have not felt the necessity for discussing the details. The reason I have not done so before is that my poor physical health (a consequence of participation in the Bataan Death March and the subsequent 3 1/2 years internment in Japanese POW camps) has precluded me from getting into what I felt was unnecessary involvement. However, present polls show that there is the imminent danger to our country of a draft dodger becoming the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States. While it is true, as Mr. Clinton has stated, that there were many others who avoided serving their country in the Vietnam war, they are not aspiring to be the President of the United States.
The tremendous implications of the possibility of his becoming Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces compels me now to comment on the facts concerning Mr. Clinton's evasion of the draft.
This account would not have been imperative had Bill Clinton been completely honest with the American public concerning this matter. But as Mr. Clinton replied on a news conference this evening (September 5, 1992) after being asked another particular about his dodging the draft, "Almost everyone concerned with these incidents are dead. I have no more comments to make." Since I may be the only person living who can give a first hand account of what actually transpired, I am obligated by my love for my country and my sense of duty to divulge what actually happened and make it a matter of record.
Bill Clinton came to see me at my home in 1969 to discuss his desire to enroll in the ROTC program at the University of Arkansas. We engaged in an extensive, approximately two (2) hour interview. At no time during this long conversation about his desire to join the program did he inform me of his involvement, participation and actually organizing protests against the United States involvement in South East Asia. He was shrewd enough to realize that had I been aware of his activities, he would not have been accepted into the ROTC program as a potential officer in the United States Army.
The next day I began to receive phone calls regarding Bill Clinton's draft status. I was informed by the draft board that it was of interest to Senator Fullbright's office that Bill Clinton, a Rhodes Scholar, should be admitted to the ROTC program. I received several such calls. The general message conveyed by the draft board to me was that Senator Fullbright's office was putting pressure on them and that they needed my help. I then made the necessary arrangements to enroll Mr. Clinton into the ROTC program at the University of Arkansas.
I was not "saving" him from serving his country, as he erroneously thanked me for in his letter from England (dated December 3, 1969). I was making it possible for a Rhodes Scholar to serve in the military as an officer.
In retrospect I see that Mr. Clinton had no intention of following through with his agreement to join the Army ROTC program at the University of Arkansas or to attend the University of Arkansas Law School. I had explained to him the necessity of enrolling at the University of Arkansas as a student in order to be eligible to take the ROTC program at the University. He never enrolled at the University of Arkansas, but instead enrolled at Yale after attending Oxford. I believe that he purposely deceived me, using the possibility of joining the ROTC as a ploy to work with the draft board to delay his induction and get a new draft classification.
The December 3rd letter written to me by Mr. Clinton, and subsequently taken from the files by Lt. Col. Clint Jones, my executive officer, was placed into the ROTC files so that a record would be available in case the applicant should again petition to enter into the ROTC program. The information in that letter alone would have restricted Bill Clinton from ever qualifying to be an officer in the United States Military. Even more significant was his lack of veracity in purposefully defrauding the military by deceiving me, both in concealing his anti-military activities overseas and his counterfeit intentions for later military service. These actions cause me to question both his patriotism and his integrity.
When I consider the calibre, the bravery, and the patriotism of the fine young soldiers whose deaths I have witnessed, and others whose funerals I have attended * * *. When I reflect on not only the willingness but eagerness that so many of them displayed in their earnest desire to defend and serve their country, it is untenable and incomprehensible to me that a man who was not merely unwilling to serve his country, but actually protested against its military, should ever be in the position of Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces.
I write this declaration not only for the living and future generations, but for those who fought and died for our country. If space and time permitted I would include the names of the ones I knew and fought with, and along with them I would mention my brother Bob, who was killed during World War II and is buried in Cambridge, England (at the age of 23, about the age Bill Clinton was when he was over in England protesting the war).
I have agonized over whether or not to submit this statement to the American people. But, I realize that even though I served my country by being in the military for over 32 years, and having gone through the ordeal of months of combat under the worst of conditions followed by years of imprisonment by the Japanese, it is not enough. I'm writing these comments to let everyone know that I love my country more than I do my own personal security and well-being. I will go to my grave loving these United States of America and the liberty for which so many men have fought and died.
Because of my poor physical condition this will be my final statement. I will make no further comments to any of the media regarding this issue.
Eugene J. Holmes,
Colonel, U.S.A., Ret.
State of Arkansas,
County of Washington,
Barbara J. Powers,
My commission expires--12/1/93