Comment Of The Day
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Friday, September 4, 1998

The President Going Down #5

It's Getting Deeper. Senator Joseph Lieberman, one of the most respected Democrats in the U.S. Senate yesterday denounced President Clinton's conduct in the Lewinsky Affair as "disgraceful and immoral." He went on to state that the President's conduct would have lasting consequences, all negative, on the nation's history and status in the world. But, worst of all, the Senator made a controlled and eloquent statement before the Senate and for the record on his feelings concerning the impact of these events on the American Family and most importantly on our children. "No matter how much the President or others may wish to compartmentalize the different spheres of life, the inescapable truth is that the President's private conduct can and often does have profound public consequences." And, "The President's relationship with Ms. Lewinsky not only contradicted the values he has publicly embraced over the last six years, it has, I fear, compromised his moral authority at a time when Americans of every political persuasion agree that the decline of the family is one of the most pressing problems we are facing."

Immediately after Senator Lieberman's speech, two other stalwart senators, Moynihan of New York and Kerrey of Nebraska, also broke ranks and praised Senator Lieberman, and then went on to offer even more criticism and condemnation of the President. Senator Lieberman stated afterward that not only was he upset about the President's conduct, but more, it was his abject failure to level with the American people. Behind the scenes, Erskine Bowles, Chief of Staff, and Tom Daschle, the minority whip, had pleaded with him not to make the speech. They felt the impact would be devastating to the President. But Lieberman answered these implorings in his speech, "The implications for our country are so serious that I feel a responsibility to my constituents in Connecticut, as well as to my conscience, to voice my concerns forthrightly and publicly." The weight of the Senator's words carried an extra impact because of the longtime and well known friendship between the two men.

Just as in March of 1974 when Senator James Buckley called for President Nixon's resignation, and turned the tide in the Senate and the country against the President, many are now considering Senator Lieberman's obviously heartfelt and struggling statement of conscience to be a similar act of high statesmanship. Even The New York Times stated that the White House is scrambling, Democratic Congressmen do not want the President to campaign in their districts, and no Democrats from Congress accompanied the President to Ireland, despite numerous invitations.

In my opinion, the bell is beginning to toll. Many of you know, that the policies of the Clinton Administration are popular here, but nonetheless, far from settling the issue in his Monday speech, Bill Clinton, as many, many men before him have done, while vicious in the attack and condemnation of others' moral lapses (remember his attacks on President Bush), attempted equivocation, tergiversation, and the injection of ambiguity ("legally correct") in defense of his own actions, in a fatally-flawed attempt to avoid the cleansing metastasis of reality.

So, he is going down, it would appear. One way or the other. He may remain as President, but his presidency is ruined.

Poor Bill. Poor Us.
With the coming report from Ken Starr, the just-begun investigation by Janet Reno (which effects both Bill and Al on their excellent adventure), and the meeting this morning with prominent Democrats, in my opinion, it looks bad, bad, bad for Clinton and his Presidency. The reason is simple, really. He grossed us out. The dress, the imagined scenes in the Oval Office, the tergiversations, the railing against Starr instead of sincerely saying, "I'm sorry," and then, in the past few days, his lack of vigor and his ability to deliver speeches which ring hollow. Playing golf while his reputation burns, didn't help either. Now, Barbara Boxer of California, related by marriage to Bill, abandons him as "immoral" and praises Senator Lieberman's speech last week.

Behind it all is probably a much harsher, more damning report from Starr than any of us has really imagined. Perjury and obstruction of justice will be its centerpieces. Not many in Congress can withstand the tidal wave of condemnation that will be coming, like an enfilade from above, upon the President. He will have few friends and they will be far between. Clinton, the "come-back" kid, will meet the final test of that moniker (no pun intended.)

In the research on what is and what is not an impeachable offense under the "high crimes and misdemeanors" clause of the US Constitution, it is clear to anyone who cares to do the study, that an impeachable offense is whatever the House of Representatives says is an impeachable offense. In our system of checks and balances, the President's perception by the House has always been the main determination of his power and influence. With the erosion of the Presidency (since the
22nd Amendment) the preeminence of the House of Representatives was just as inevitable in the USA as it has been with similar legislative bodies elected by population regionally in every other country where they have appeared. In many ways, our Presidency is on the same path as the monarchs of old. This decline will ultimately infringe on our individual freedoms and protections of human rights, but, it seems impossible to stop. The regional nature of Representatives gives them a longevity in office that, coupled with the House budgetary control, spells power with a capital "P". The one hope (remember that place called Hope?) was that individual presidents could regain the office's stature through their excellent performance and their unquestioned character. Reagan was good for the Presidency. Bush was bad. Clinton may be the hinge pin that swings the whole thing the wrong way. In the end, it will be the election process that let us all down. Everyone knows that money talks and being right walks in American prime time politics. Plus, what it takes to get elected in America is a far different sort of personality than it takes to govern in America. That dichotomy is, of course, a prescription for disaster at the polls. And, Plato said that eons ago.

It would be good for America if Clinton remains in office and fulfills his term. But, I doubt, even if that happens, that that will be the guiding light of other elected officials and future aspirants, already circling above the White House watching for the carcass to appear. But still, it would be good for us, and far better than another removal.

Parse It Up, Baby. It's Really Just Fungible Kudzu, Anyway. The Presidency is verging on becoming just another piece of parsable political kudzu. Nothing is really "stand alone" anymore. We can trade off Clinton's embarrassment for retaining a Senate seat here with a few advancing TV sound bites there. Everything is now up for grabs, media-wise. It's what you get when selfish "we're on top, and you're not" people hold the reins pf Congress that control the direction, speed, and vitality of our nation's horse of state. It should drive thinking people crazy to see them practicing the misshapen, truncated modus vivendi of, "Do Unto Others," leaving out the balancing, soul-saving, second clause, "As You Would Have Them Do Unto You," and replacing it with, "Before They Do It To You."
Watching Henry Hyde of Illinois quietly repeating the lie that "we are going to follow a prudent course of our constitutional duties," saddened this writer. And, remember that no one is making the case the WJC is a clean, lean presidential machine. He is not. Not at all. His screwed-up personal life, recklessness with the nation's trust, and crazy shenanigans with Monica are far from the example we all want, but as we have stated before, Clinton is NOT the Presidency, he is a man. An imperfect man. Is all of this really such a surprise? Such a crime? A rebuke is in order, but to take it beyond that to the level of Presidential Impeachment is to lift these sophomoric acts and the accompanyingly childish attempts at obfuscation and BMOCism up to the alter of "checks and balances" where they clearly, clearly, clearly do not belong. Hilliary's response, after all, is far more appropriate: Personal disdain, marital dispair, but press ahead on the issues that really matter. That is also what the country at large is doing. The Congress should respond in this case, not Constitutionally (because the Constitution is not threatened by dilliance and denial) but professionally. That is, if the power politicians in the Capitol have any of that left. Bill Clinton did it to Monica, but Gingrich and the boys are doing it to the rest of America. There are much more important things awaiting their attention: a potential government shutdown in a few weeks, international finances cascading, social security, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and, oh, I don't know, public education, defense spending, and there might even be something to do about environmental issues. If you've got the time, that is. See you next time?

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