THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release|| ||December 11, 1998|
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
The Rose Garden
4:10 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: As anyone close to me knows, for monthsI have been grappling with how best to reconcile myself to theAmerican people, to acknowledge my own wrongdoing and still tomaintain my focus on the work of the presidency.
Others are presenting my defense on the facts, the law,and the Constitution. Nothing I can say now can add to that. What Iwant the American people to know, what I want the Congress to know isthat I am profoundly sorry for all I have done wrong in words anddeeds. I never should have misled the country, the Congress, myfriends or my family. Quite simply, I gave into my shame.
I have been condemned by my accusers with harsh words.And while it's hard to hear yourself called deceitful andmanipulative, I remember Ben Franklin's admonition that our criticsare our friends, for they do show us our faults.
Mere words cannot fully express the profound remorse Ifeel for what our country is going through, and for what members ofboth parties in Congress are now forced to deal with.
These past months have been a tortuous process of comingto terms with what I did. I understand that accountability demandsconsequences, and I'm prepared to accept them. Painful though thecondemnation of the Congress would be, it would pale in comparison tothe consequences of the pain I have caused my family. There is nogreater agony.
Like anyone who honestly faces the shame of wrongfulconduct, I would give anything to go back and undo what I did. Butone of the painful truths I have to live with is the reality thatthat is simply not possible. An old and dear friend of mine recentlysent me the wisdom of a poet, who wrote, "The moving finger writes,and having writ moves on. Nor all your piety, nor wit shall lure itback to cancel half a line. Nor all your tears wash out a word ofit."
So nothing -- not piety, nor tears, nor wit, nor torment-- can alter what I have done. I must make my peace with that. Imust also be at peace with the fact that the public consequences ofmy actions are in the hands of the American people and theirrepresentatives in the Congress. Should they determine that myerrors of word and deed require their rebuke and censure, I am readyto accept that.
Meanwhile, I will continue to do all I can to reclaimthe trust of the American people and to serve them well. We mustall return to the work, the vital work, of strengthening ournation for the new century. Our country has wonderfulopportunities and daunting challenges ahead. I intend to seizethose opportunities and meet those challenges with all the energyand ability, and strength God has given me.
That is simply all I can do -- the work of the Americanpeople.
Thank you very much.