The Secret Life of a Scandal
July 27 1998 - Events have been clicking along rapidly in July, with Starr winning a series of court battles over his right to have Secret Service agents testify, and then (at least as of about the 17th of July, according to news reports of the weekend of the 25th-26th) issuing a subpoena to the President requiring him to testify before the Grand Jury, with a deadline of July 29th to appear or face contempt charges. At the same time this news broke, not far behind was a court decision that one of the President's closest advisors was not protected by an attorney-client privilege, thus requiring him to testify about conversations he had with the President, and finally that the woman at the center of the firestorm, Monica Lewinsky, had had preliminary conversations with Starr's staff, something which usually is a prelude to a person testifying under an immunity agreement. And just when Starr seemed to be on a roll, one as yet uncorroborated report on an American cable channel, MSNBC, said that a Washington journalist had announced that he had taped conversations of two men on Kenneth Starr's staff offering him "substantive information." The journalist said he would not have released the tapes had Starr not subpoenaed the President, but now felt that doing so would prompt a full investigation of Starr's tactics.
For the benefit of foreign readers, I should explain that this kind of subpoena is an unusual step, as Presidents generally do not appear in person (a requirement of the subpoena) in such matters, and there is even some argument over the extent to which such a subpoena is enforceable. Though on occasion Presidents have given testimony in both civil and criminal trials (both Reagan and Clinton have in recent years), they have done so with either a written statement or videotaped testimony. An appearance before a Grand Jury is unusual as well, because as the nation's Chief Executive sits alone before prosecutors and jury members, he can theoretically be asked any question, something which may at some point strain the limits of the constitutionally-mandated relationships between various branches of government. For an average person who is already under accusation to testify in such a situation would already be problematic, but introducing constitutional issues makes the whole process even trickier, quite apart from questions of guilt or innocence. Once a precedent is established, it will apply to future Presidents, so Clinton must consider both his personal legal situation and the possibility that a political or legal misstep could hamper the actions of future Presidents.
Aside from this, there is the matter of self-incrimination, something which is protected against by the American constitution. Self-incrimination, it should be understood, need have nothing to do with guilt or innocence, since in the absence of eyewitnesses, cameras and smoking guns with fingerprints all over them, a prosecutorial investigation often proceeds only under the belief (not certainty) that a particular crime occurred and a "theory" of who did what, and when. The evidence is gathered and interpreted, and indictments issued, under that theory. Truth is another matter entirely, and both the truly innocent and the truly guilty are indicted every day in American courts and convicted on the basis of prosecutorial theories which are right, half-right and just plain wrong. This is not to judge what Starr is doing, but simply to point out the personal, political and legal dilemma faced by President Clinton so that we can get some understanding of how it fits with the Saturn and Neptune configurations. Oddly enough, a President in this situation might be forced by the purely political elements necessarily involved in a proceeding by an Independent Counsel to forego legal protections available to anyone else who is under suspicion and who comes before a Grand Jury, so while it is common to say that the President is not above the law (certainly true), it is also possible that in some respects he or she may be beneath the law, compelled to abandon certain normal legal safeguards.
It is worth noting that in regard to the general situation between Starr and Clinton, this writer said in the September issue of American Astrology: " ...the summer months look very hot for both Clinton and Lewinsky, since on the graph Saturn and Neptune are more in contact with their sensitive planets than with Starrs'. In fact, not long after Saturn and Neptune make exact contacts with Clinton's Saturn, sometime in July, his sidereal solar return (or "precessed" solar return, as some call it) shows Neptune rising and the Moon and Mars (along with Starrs' Sun and Saturn) for Washington. This is a very strong indication that Starr will, from the period of July through September, make a concerted effort against the President, with Lewinsky of course being tangled up in the middle of it all...."
These comments were based on the graph shown on the previous page, and are followed by a warning that if Starr doesn't successfully make a clear case against the President (if this indeed is his intent) before early September, he himself could be in trouble. This is all the more so given the brouhaha mentioned above over Starr's dealings with the press in the early phases of the investigation, and today's reappearance of the same charge. Why? Because new leaks have told us that in about the third week of June, as the judge overseeing the case began her formal investigation of whether or not Starr and his office have been leaking material illegally, she apparently also gave the President's and Lewinsky's own lawyers the right to participate in that investigation in some direct way. The extent of this participation is unclear and the subject of rank speculation (as what isn't in this case?), but it does at least indicate that the objects of Starr's investigation are now in a position to investigate him. Thus the meaning of the warning about the period from September through November becomes clear. He may end his own investigation with regard to the President and turn over the results to Congress, but may still have to spend the fall dealing with the serious and credible allegations now leveled against his own conduct.
The political problem Clinton faces, outlined above, is pretty clear, and the political problem Starr (and possibly the Republican congress, if they become involved) faces was outlined in an interesting way by Steve Erickson, writing recently in Salon Magazine:
...Forty-five years ago, during the McCarthy era, this
country decided there was something fundamentally unjust, even undemocratic,
about the state compelling an individual to account for political associations
that were not criminal, no matter how unpopular or unsavory. It also decided
there was something fundamentally unjust, even undemocratic, about criminalizing
the disinclination to answer questions about those associations that the
state never had the moral right to pose. It's stupefying that something the
public understands intuitively seems to completely elude those now investigating
and reporting this scandal: that if the state cannot and should not compel
one to account for his political associations, then compelling one to account
for his sexual associations is an outrage even more personal and profound....
I find the above comparison of the moral issues involved in this situation with those seen in the McCarthy era particularly interesting because the height of that era took place under a Saturn-Neptune conjunction, evidence of which one can find recorded in the birth charts of many people born in the early 1950s. At this point, the American public does seem to have judged the situation this way, since whatever they think of Clinton personally they feel uncomfortable with the idea that if a President could be wrestled to the ground over lying or not lying in a civil suit about whether or not he had sex with someone, the local prosecutor could be looking into their own pecadilloes next. Not literally likely, of course, but an issue (and a peculiarly American one, I suspect) which breaks in Clinton's favor, not Starr's.
Having considered the timing of some critical transits to sensitive points in the charts of Bill Clinton and Kenneth Starr (with Monica in the middle), let's take a closer look at how these same transits play out in an Astro*Carto*Graphy context. Transits and progressions tell us when various parts of the natal chart may be singled out and thus become important in a person's life, while the lines of rising, setting and culmination on a map tell us where these things will be strongest.
Here there is an interesting contrast, since the struggle between Starr and Clinton has, at this point, narrowed down to a grand jury in Washington, D.C., the possible involvement of the American Congress in the same location, and perhaps some involvement by another grand jury in the state of Virginia, though geographically very close to the nation's Capitol. Consider the following patterns for Washington, D.C.:
In other words, the point in Starr's chart most affected by the Saturn-Neptune transit is angular in Washington, DC. On the other hand, Clinton's natal Jupiter and progressed Sun are the closest planets to the angles of his chart for Washington (natal Venus is just over 7 degrees west). Not only are these two planets not involved with the Saturn-Neptune transit, but in fact neither is affected by much in the way of strong, slow-moving outer-planet transits during the next year or so. Starr's configurations certainly can be taken to indicate the blossoming of an incipient prosecutorial nature (he has made his reputation as a judge and a lawyer, not a prosecutor), but also perhaps an unfortunate tendency to misjudge the political aspects of what he is doing, something noted woefully even by his supporters. Geographically, the east coast of the U.S., including Washington, is the strong focus of his natal Sun-Saturn and his progressed Saturn, as well as the transiting Neptune which affects those natal planets.
Clinton gets a touch of Neptune to Saturn, and some effect of this year's Saturn-Neptune square, but in his case the geographic focus is elsewhere, and his natal, transiting and progressed configurations for Washington in general seem to indicate honor rather than dishonor, and victory rather than defeat. Geographically, Starr's natal configurations emphasizing Saturn are not bad things to have for someone investigating the possiblity of high crimes and misdemeanors on the part of a public official, but if he is to do a clean job of it, coming up with clear and believable answers in a situation roiling with politics, animosity and high emotion, Neptune is a decidedly unfavorable influence. As the reader can see, while the Washington picture for Clinton in regard to natal planets and progressions and transits within the natal framework remains clear and even favorable, transiting Neptune is closing on his progressed Saturn at Washington, DC.
Having laid out the situation with regard to timing both in the zodiac and geographically, let us take one more interesting factor into account with Starr, which is that his natal Sun-Saturn combination is not simply a conjunction in longitude, but also a contraparallel in declination.
Transiting Neptune, south declination
The Neptune transits are arbitrarily given starting at an orb of one degree at intervals of half a degree. Since Neptune's motion is irregular, the months shown are those when the planet last passed through the point in question. Note that Neptune was within half a degree of the Sun-Saturn midpoint at the beginning of Starr's involvement with the Whitewater investigation, and stayed there almost through the end of it, as the Little Rock grand jury dealing specifically with Whitewater matters was closed down in the spring of 1998. Starr has justified the current probe as related to Whitewater sufficiently well to his superiors to have it put under his purview.
For those not up on Whitewater minutiae, the idea behind all the uproar is that in an attempt by Monica Lewinsky to get a friend (Linda Tripp) not to reveal, in an upcoming deposition for a civil suit, things which Lewinsky had told her about a purported relationship with the President, Lewinsky urged Tripp to lie and alleged that the President and his friend Vernon Jordan had told her to lie. Tripp, however, not only told on her friend in the deposition, but also made tapes of her and took these to Starr. Though the allegations involving Lewinsky's actions are serious enough, Starr also reportedly feels that the scenario is similar enough to what he suspects happened in another situation closer to the heart of the Whitewater investigation that if he brings pressure to bear in the one situation, the other will pop open like a rotten cantaloupe, demonstrating criminality on the part of the President.
The problem is that the situation with which he originally compared it has produced no such evidence of criminality, but has also produced the countercharge that Starr has asked witnesses to "tell lies about the President" (to quote Webster Hubbell), under the threat of prosecution if they did not. Where Hubbell is concerned, though the investigation did uncover illegal acts on his part unrelated to Whitewater, a problem arose when his powerful Washington friends tried to help him out before he headed off to prison by finding a number of well-compensated, labor-unintensive "consultant" jobs of the sort which seem to litter the marble halls in Washington. Ah ha, said Starr's office, an attempt to buy Hubbell's silence. When Hubbell emerged from prison having refused to cooperate with Starr (he says he knows of no illegal activity involving the Clintons), he was then indicted once more, a charge which was recently thrown out on appeal, punctuated by a personal admonition from the judge to Starr himself. At the same time, another recalcitrant witness, Susan McDougal, was recently freed from prison after having served eighteen months for contempt of court for refusing to talk to Starr's Little Rock grand jury. Why? Unlike Hubbell, who merely suggested it, she has made a specific charge that she was told the prosecutors wouldn't bother her any more if she would "admit" to having an affair with Clinton, which she says she did not. She may have made other similar allegations.
I really did not intend to outline all of the above, as I am most intent on looking at the action as it relates to Saturn and Neptune, but I did feel that it would help for those who have not been following any of this to have an idea about who the players were, what the issues are, and what is at stake for both Starr and Clinton. Some pundits are saying Clinton has been "backed into a corner" at this point, and while "the stars" agree to some extent, they also caution that the Independent Counsel could himself be in real trouble before this personal chess game has ended.