Trial: Nation Will Survive ...
New York Daily News, Wednesday, January 20, 1999
Watching the second chapter of President Clinton's impeachment
trial yesterday, I got the feeling that this mess will work itself
out for the betterment of the country. We always suffer our way
through the darkness until we get to a bit more light, then live
under that until things go black again.
case of Mr. Bill vs. the Republicans, the roots of so many of
our problems reveal themselves. One is the deep divide over sex:
Americans are either adults who look upon sexual behavior with
maturity, or we are cub scouts and campfire girls who get our
biggest thrills when something is presented as dirty.
we can still be surprised, which this attempt to behead Mr. Bill
it not for the Republican appeal to outraged sexual immaturity,
we might never have expected a contemporary presidency to come
under threat for what amounts to a trivial affair and an attempt
to keep the world from knowing about it. One would think that
by now the subject of sex would have gone beyond the condition
of the debased to that of the boring.
quite. This is just what happens when there are no weapons other
than sex to use in a political battle. Kenneth Starr's extremely
expensive investigations led to nothing. Then bingo!
Monica Lewinsky snapped her panties, and the avalanche started
rolling us down to the bottom of the gutter.
have observed before, the Starr report treated us to the kind
foul detail first found during the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill
hearings. As those hearings progressed, subjects we thought would
never be heard in the halls of government or on television news
were spoken of in a deadpan manner. Much of it was spoken by Hill,
who recently appeared on the "Today" show, exhibiting
her gams in a dress three-quarters up her thighs as she discussed
the meaning of sexual encounters in the work place.
kind of Peeping Tom politics that the Republicans have built their
entire impeachment case on were initially a weapon of the Democrats.
The technique didn't work for the donkeys, and it won't work for
the elephants. Thomas, for better and for worse, now sits in the
black robes of a Supreme Court justice and will be there for some
time, if his health remains good.
same thing will happen with Mr. Bill. After all the fuss is over,
he will be in the Oval Office with a big smile on his face while
the Republicans will be glowering and grimacing as they watch
the old guard, so floridly represented by Henry Hyde, either fade
into the background or become neutralized within the ranks of
their own party because they so poorly read what Americans were
things are for the best. The Republicans have a very shallow case.
As the trial of Mr. Bill moves along and as the White House
lawyers continue the counter-attack that Charles Ruff launched
so well yesterday the public will become even more aware
of just how shallow the GOP case is, and it will realize that
the whole business was about no more than trying to even the score
for Richard Nixon.
Mr. Bill achieves before he leaves office, by the way, will be
the result of exactly the kinds of players who are abundant in
this impeachment case people of all colors, of both sexes,
of various religious backgrounds, from different parts of the
who remembers when all matters of great importance were decided
largely by white guys, I find this whole matter a strong commentary
on how far our country has gone toward a much broader representation
is not true of the impeachment managers, but they represent the
end of something, just as Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott represents
a long-term connection to bigots that will do him in once the
media wake up to it.
we are seeing at the moment is just how low politics can go when
the animus toward the opposition is great enough. But the future,
even of the Republican Party, is going to be quite different.
As one highly placed Republican said to me: "We have to change
and open the doors because there are only so many rich, fat, white