Just you wait, Henry Hyde, just you wait

Much against my better judgment I finally forced myself to watch the House Judiciary Committee go through its machinations. It was pretty much as I had suspected. The Republicans have all turned into moralists. A lie is a lie is a lie and can never be retracted, or forgiven, or, in the words of a formerly great American, can now never be placed in a context because we can never tolerate a liar in the White House, ever, ever, ever, particularly a Democratic liar. Counterbalancing that are the Democrats who have now elevated themselves to the level of constitutional scholars. As I understand their defense, it’s either, “It wasn’t such a big lie,” or “Everybody lies about getting a little on the side,” or “So what’s the big deal, it’s not an impeachable offense, heck, even Jefferson did it.” Take your pick.

You can only come away from the hearings believing if the country isn’t in safe hands, it certainly is in predictable hands. Simultaneously, I’ve gotten a series of faxes, e-mails, letters and whatnots exhorting me to let all the congressmen know that if they vote for impeachment, we intend to take vengeance of biblical portions on those who defy the will of the people.The people’s will is, of course, conveyed by those who send you the e-mail or whatever.

Which set me thinking about who wins and who loses in this battle and who is the most at risk.

It starts with the obvious: Bill Clinton, a competent man, very bright, a reasonably capable president, who probably will be remembered by history as a sex addict, at a historical time when that’s a No No, and most probably will be the butt of Monica jokes into the third millennium. After six years in office, this isn’t much of a finale.

Hillary Clinton: It’s not quite clear to me why Hillary has become Saint Hillary, Our Lady of Everlasting Fortitude, but clearly she has. She could very well end up in the U.S. Senate after walking across the waters of Lake Michigan.

Henry Hyde: Try as he might, the avuncular Mr. Hyde keeps trying to pretend that he’s really Dr. Jekyll, but nobody, not even he, believes it any more. If he’s a highly respected and revered member of Congress, I hate to think about what the Dumbos are like. He’ll end up as a silly, pathetic footnote in some chapter of somebody’s history book.


The Democrats: This is a very iffy guess. Assuming the House votes impeachment, and I have to assume they probably will, there is then the prospect of a long trial in the Senate, which the Democrats will force over into the year 2000 and the primaries. It’s a gamble, but if 62 percent think this is silly now, what’s the percentage going to be in the year 2000, particularly if the economy takes a nosedive. If it gets really bad, Clinton will quit, despite what he says, and the Republicans will have to run against President Gore.

The Republicans: My view is that they’re highly at risk because the Republican Right apparently is calling the shots and the others don’t have the guts or the numbers to resist. The shots they’re calling may sell like crazy in Georgia, or Mississippi, or the mountain states. The problem is that they don’t resonate very well in the Northeast, or the Rust Belt, or the Heartland or the West Coast. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bunch of Republican congressmembers changing parties the way the opposite happened after the Reagan victory. Bottom line is that when the Republican Congressmen vote for impeachment, they are practically guaranteeing that the House will swing back to the Democrats in 2000 or 2002.

The real losers: That us folks. It’s important to all of us that there be a real check and balance in our system. This whole sorry charade lowers the bar on how the Congress relates to the presidency. Clinton will be gone, and the new rule will be, “If you have the votes, stick it to them.”

I guess I’m showing my age when I say there really was a time when we had a bipartisan foreign policy.

There was a time when there were national leaders and party leaders and they were respected by their opposition.

There was a time when the people with the votes understood this condition wasn’t necessarily permanent and that whatever they did unto others was going to be done back onto them.

I know we need a strong two-party system because its existence serves as a break on each party’s excesses, and without it we spin out of control and end up in fratricidal wars.

I’m hoping this will all end sensibly. We the nation need it.

But frankly, from what I’ve seen so far, I doubt it.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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