Bill Clinton deceived the American people in a flagrant manner when he said, shaking his finger:

Whatever narrow legal definition Clinton had used in his deposition in the Paula Jones lawsuit, virtually no one listening to what he said in that clip would think he was defining “sexual relations” in such an arcane manner.

When a president addresses the American public, his words are taken with their usual meaning. And the same goes for Obama’s oft-repeated pledge. It had an obvious meaning that completely resists any spin that operatives may try to put on it. “Everybody” knows what it meant, and everybody is correct.

But in the end Clinton got away with his deception. Not without angst, of course. But he remained president, and he’s now a somewhat-respected elder statesman of the Democratic Party, who just might end up making history by being the first First Man.

The difference between Clinton’s and Obama’s deception, however, is that Clinton deceived about something intensely private that really did not directly affect the American people very much, and the subject matter (being deceptive about sex) was one with which an awful lot of people could identify. Plus, he didn’t do it to pass a bill that would directly affect their lives in some very intrusive ways on some very personal matters.

Obama did just that. And now it’s the American people who might be paying for it: literally.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]