New York Times, Sunday, December
about the will of the people, the democratic process and the good
of the country. The extremists in the Republican Party are trying
to bludgeon their way to an impeachment that hardly anybody wants
and nobody needs.
Government and perhaps even the economy are thrown into a tailspin
as a result -- well, so be it. The fanatics of the right are willing
to pay any price, bear any burden, to hammer the man they hate
above all others, Bill Clinton.
no champion of the President, but I know a lynch mob when I see
with the sins of Mr. Clinton, the right-wingers believe with their
idol Barry Goldwater that "moderation in the pursuit of justice
is no virtue." (Mr. Goldwater's views on fooling around in
the workplace are, nevertheless, not helpful to his spiritual
descendants. Laurence J. Peter, author of "The Peter Principle,"
quotes the late Senator as follows: "I think any man in business
would be foolish to fool around with his secretary. If it's somebody
else's secretary, fine!")
Americans thought the campaign to impeach Mr. Clinton had been
derailed by the Democrats' strong showing in the November elections
and Newt Gingrich's decision three days later to relinquish the
Speakership and leave Congress. There was a general feeling that
if the President hadn't been punished enough, the country certainly
had. It was hoped that Monica-all-the-time would give way to Monica-every-now-and-then.
somebody forgot to tell Tom DeLay. Mr. DeLay is the onetime exterminator
from Sugar Land, Tex., who has emerged as the Republicans' chief
pro-impeachment fanatic. He's the Republican whip, the man who
rounds up the votes in the House. Nothing short of impeachment
will satisfy him. He is adamantly opposed to the House even considering
a censure resolution.
want a sense of how extreme Mr. DeLay can be, consider his approach
to the environment. He believes the Environmental Protection Agency
is the "Gestapo of the Government." He believes that
DDT is A-O.K. Not harmful. He is not bothered by threats to the
ozone layer. When the Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to
the discoverers of the link between chlorofluorocarbons and ozone
depletion, he mocked the award as the "Nobel Appeasement
piece of work in this bizarre drama is Representative Bob Barr,
a Republican from Georgia who has long been recognized as an impeachment
fanatic and was widely regarded as a crank. Nevertheless he is
on the Judiciary Committee and voted on Friday for impeachment.
That same day The Washington Post ran a story in which Mr. Barr
acknowledged being a keynote speaker this
year at a meeting of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white
supremacist group that is worried blacks will exterminate whites
by infiltrating their bedrooms.
may wish to put the sordid Lewinsky saga behind them, but if the
G.O.P. fanatics get their way and Mr. Clinton is actually impeached
by the House, the very opposite will happen. The issue will become
bigger than ever, overwhelming everything else in the Government
for months and months to come.
of Mr. Clinton in the Senate, presided over by Chief Justice William
Rehnquist, and with star witnesses like Monica Lewinsky and Linda
Tripp and Vernon Jordan, will make the O. J. Simpson story look
like a warm-up act. It will seem like Monica-forever-and-ever.
of the Government would come to a halt. Any semblance of legislative
bipartisanship would vanish. There would be no possibility of
an agreement on Social Security, no patients' bill of rights,
no serious Federal initiatives on education.
would poison every relationship," said a Capitol Hill veteran.
another: "You'd have to consider the legislative year over."
Street executives fear the stock markets would be adversely affected
and the long economic expansion could be undermined.
is no doubt that Bill Clinton has demeaned the Presidency. There
is no defense for his actions or his lies. But the voters have
chosen him twice by substantial margins and they stand behind
him still. It is not up to the hatchet men of the Republican Party
to undo that.