Impeachment Eve

By Andrew Ferguson, Senior Editor
The Weekly Standard, vol. 4, no. 15, December 28, 1998, pages 10-12


The Capitol, Friday, December 18


12:12 P.M.   Out in the Speaker's Lobby, I'm talking to Jerry Nadler, the rotund congressman from New York City, when Bob Barr, Republican from Georgia, appears.  Barr is immediately besieged by reporters.  He is second only to Mary Bono as a favorite Republican among the press corps, most of whom see in them the twin poles of today's Republican party - airheads on one end, nutcases on the other.   Barr recently admitted he once spoke to a white-supremacist group, and this morning, in his speech on the floor, he quoted John F. Kennedy with effusive praise, perhaps trying to reposition himself as a moderate.  The smart money says it won't work.
    Anyway, as Barr chats to reporters, Patrick Kennedy, the boyish congressman from Rhode Island, suddenly appears.  His face is crimson.  He moves as close to Barr as he can through the scrum of reporters and begins shouting.   "You're disgraceful!" he bellows.  "Anybody who went to a racist organization has no business invoking my uncle's memory.  Racist!  I'm outraged!"
    "Young man," says Barr, "you can say whatever you'd like."
    "Young man?"  Kennedy screams.  "Young man?  I'm a duly elected member of my state!"  Veins are popping from his neck.
    "And I'm duly impressed," Barr says.
    With that, Kennedy turns on his heel and zips out of the room as fast as his little legs will carry him, looking as incensed as he might have been when Dad refused to buy him Bermuda for his thirteenth birthday.
    Poor Nadler is suddenly forgotten in all the commotion.  He slips up behind me.  "What happened?"
    "Pat called Bob a racist."
    "Oh," Nadler shrugs.  "Gee, if I call Bob Barr a racist can I get all that attention too?"