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January 21, 1999

"Those Stubborn Facts."
They won't go away. They keep pounding, like the telltale heart.
-- Cheryl D. Mills, before the U.S. Senate yesterday.

Well, in the end, it wasn't the formerly great Henry Hyde. It wasn't the now-gone Speaker of the House Gingrich. It wasn't the passionately outraged Tom Delay or the diminishing Senator Lott. It wasn't even the backstabbing Linda or the unrelenting Monica that truly did the trick. And the trick wasn't done on the President, either. It was a mild-mannered young woman. After 13 conservative men attacking, and then two male defenders for the President, she stepped to the podium and did what none before had been able to do. She changed things. And, she changed minds. "Those stubborn facts," she said, describing the glaring discrepancies in the Republican managers' case. "They won't go away. They keep pounding, like the telltale heart." She showed the world how the Managers would choose among the gifts, find the one that was ambiguous, and then twist the words of Betty Currie and the President and not even mention the other 10 cases where it was perfectly clear that there was no collusion. She helped them understand that friendship is not a conspiracy and trying to put the best light on things is not perjury. She attacked the Republican's disingenuous call for civil rights leaders to join them because of the "attack on the House Of Civil Rights." And she took that moment to illustrate passionately Clinton's record in that department. By the time she walked away from the podium the Senate was in deep contemplative silence as the clicking of her heels echoed in the air. The only sound was the changing of minds and a distant bell tolling for this colossal waste of time and energy. In interviews afterward it was clear. Something important had happened. There was shifting of emphasis. It's over. And now the impeachment of the ultra-conservatives and of the Republican party begins. As predicted much earlier, we are now reentering an era of progressive ascendancy. The Presidency and the Congress. The Governors and local officials. Those who speak in human terms and progressive terms, without moral judgments will advance. For the others, it will be confusing and they will fight it, but it's now too late. A generation of Americans have been completely turned off. That will have lasting ramifications.

And, so, here they come, like the Phoenix out of the ashes: the Clintons, Al Gore, and the next generation of leaders. In the end, they will be the heroes of the Nineties.

Just you wait and see.

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