“He and his aides lie to us almost daily and berate us for
“He confesses to crimes against the Constitution and
expects us to exonerate him.
“He seeks to corrupt all of us by asking us to condone his
crimes. In effect, he invites us to participate in his crimes.
He says, ‘they all do it.’
“He asks us to join with him in the corruption of our
cherished institutions — our government, our Congress,
even our courts.
“He accepts ‘responsibility’ but not blame. The ‘blame,’ he
feels, belongs to those who opposed his rise to power.
“He degrades our institutions by his appointments and asks
essentially decent men and women to engage in personal
“He speaks of law and order and discharges those who
believe in law and order.
“He hides behind executive privilege and sanctimoniously
tells us that he does this to protect the institution of the
“He uses lawyers to subvert the law, press spokesmen to
mislead the press, investigators to cover up investigations
and patriotism to subvert the Constitution.”
Yes, these are all good reasons, among many more, to
impeach President Clinton. Yet, incredibly, they weren’t
written about Clinton. This list of abuses of power was
compiled about one of his predecessors — Richard M.
Nixon. And guess who put it together?
The American Civil Liberties Union, that’s who. In 1974,
the ACLU published “Why Nixon Should Be Impeached.”
The quotes above are taken verbatim from that screed. It
got me to wondering: Where is the ACLU when we really
need it? Where are the so-called civil rights watchdogs
when their political allies become the abusers?
This isn’t the first time I’ve had these questions. I keep
hearing Nixon’s detractors defending the current
abuser-in-chief. They say his offenses aren’t as serious as
Nixon’s. They say Watergate posed a much greater
constitutional challenge. That might be true, if you are
willing to put blinders on and limit President Clinton’s
offenses to those so far described by Independent Counsel
Kenneth Starr in the Monica Lewinsky affair.
That, of course, makes no more sense than limiting the
scope of Watergate to the third-rate burglary at the
Democratic National Committee and the subsequent
cover-up. There was much more evidence of a broad
pattern of abuse of power in the Nixon White House, just
as there is in the Clinton White House.
I was in favor of impeachment then, and I’m in favor of it
now. Frankly, that is the only sensible, consistent,
intellectually honest position an American who believes in
the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law can hold.
So why haven’t we heard from the ACLU lately, except
when they described Linda Tripp as the greatest civil rights
threat facing America? Why the double-standard? I’ll tell
you why. Because the ACLU is not a sensible organization.
It is not consistent. And it is certainly not intellectually
honest. Instead it is a partisan political activist group
promoting an extremist, statist, socio-economic agenda.
I had my own experience with the ACLU a few years ago.
When I found myself targeted as a prominent member of
the official Clinton enemies list and realized this White
House had been keeping a dossier on me and my news
organization because of our focus on administration
corruption, my first phone call was to the ACLU.
This was a potential lawsuit that seemed to be right up
their alley. The White House had secretly compiled at
taxpayer expense a 331-page report on its enemies. I was
described as a leader of a vast right-wing media conspiracy
against Clinton — one that began with me and a handful of
others but which, ultimately, extended to the Washington
Post and The New York Times. The report was distributed
by the White House to select reporters and news
organizations and formed the basis of dozens of stories
critical of me and my organizations.
But that was just the beginning. It wasn’t long before the
most feared arm of the federal government, Internal
Revenue Service, was auditing my news organization and
threatening to remove its tax-exempt status. The ACLU
wasn’t interested in my case.
Hmmmm. Abuse of the IRS. Secret files. It seems to me,
Nixon didn’t get away with that. Why are the ACLU, the
entire civil rights establishment, Congress and the press
giving Clinton a pass?