Over, But Don't Cheer
New York Daily News, Sunday,
February 14, 1999
should be overly thrilled that the end of the impeachment trial
has arrived and Mr. Bill remains President.
public was treated to more than a year of raw political sewage.
But the American people who are always either overly praised
or contemptuously condescended to from the right, the middle and
the left could smell the whole thing early on.
teeming mass understood exactly what was going on and never failed
to say so. But it became quite obvious that the House Republicans
turned a deaf ear to the public out of their ideological desire
to run Mr. Bill out of Washington in a barrel. If they now pay
for it, they well deserve to pay.
we should not be smug about all these things. Mr. Bill's great
crime was, quite surely, extremely bad taste. Bad taste is not
a high crime or misdemeanor, but in this case it amounted to more
than simply a trivial wrong.
in our time, the American public is far more sophisticated than
the House Republicans counted on. That public, which was brought
face to face with true high crimes and misdemeanors by Richard
Nixon, is looking for "flawed heroes," as historian
Stephen Ambrose observed. One could go further and say that the
American public now accepts the reality of human flaws, sometimes
deep ones, and weighs those flaws against overall performance.
is something all Americans have to do if they are to assess this
nation with anything approaching a sense of human reality as it
interplays with the shaping of policy. Flawed leaders racists,
sexists, anti-Semites and so on have been central to the
development of this nation, as often for the good as for the bad.
Whining about what kinds of individuals those who made great contributions
should have been is less important than looking at what they actually
this is a basic problem of American double standards. Those who
rant and rave about Thomas Jefferson being a slave owner and fathering
children by the slave concubine Sally Hemings sneer at his greatness.
Then they rant and rave about the puritanical attitudes toward
Mr. Bill's Oval Office erotic hoedowns. That's us, I guess.
weird standards are exhibited by those critics of Mr. Bill's defense
team who accused the White House of playing the gender card when
a woman was put on the team and playing the race card when a black
person was chosen. Hmm. Only white men need apply before we can
be sure you're serious like the 13 House impeachment managers?
far from over, however. The media, if I have anything to say about
it, will be panting for another powerful politician to profile
in scandal. I refer, of course, to Senate Majority Leader Trent
Lott (R-Miss.), who has worked with and endorsed a pro-white organization
and is already under strong criticism from courageous Republicans
such as writer Peggy Noonan and commentator Armstrong Williams.
Starr, the man who came to dinner and ended up eating the house,
the lawn and the landscape, will be scrutinized closely for his
handling of Monica Lewinsky and for the unconstitutional act of
inserting himself into the impeachment trial as a 14th manager.
This will be decried by Republicans as "Clinton's revenge"
until the facts become clear. Then, Starr, who earned a million
a year defending Big Tobacco and never met a tobacco leaf he didn't
like, will have the covers pulled off him and could, if justice
is cruel and sweet enough, find himself in dress-prison blue.
Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) and others may well find their heads on the
chopping block as the nation lets them know it can remember clearly
when its will has not been done.
entire event will work out for the national good because those
who need to go will be gone, and those who understand the context
of this entire matter will see that, once again, the American
public has proven its ability to grow up faster than some of its