We are in the midst of momentous events. And though some folks try to
play down the significance of the whole impeachment crisis, I want to explain again why I believe that this matter is so critical, and why it is far more important than many people are saying, including those at The New York Times who are writing their sophistical editorials to pretend that the president’s conduct doesn’t rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.
If, as I believe, this nation is in the midst of a great moral crisis,
and if that moral crisis is in fact what threatens the future of our institutions and our liberty, then nothing could be more profoundly damaging than an outcome to the impeachment process that ratifies the moral corruption of our time. There are those who are making arguments as if our national security and national survival have to do only with material things. They suggest that while it is bad to give away secrets to weapons, or do things that affect adversely our material or economic prospects, or to produce weapons of mass destruction, that doing something that destroys our moral foundations is not even a misdemeanor — it’s just not even important.
These are people who apparently don’t really understand even the nature
of war. Because all the great tomes on strategy that have been written agree that if you are at war, if you are threatened by an enemy that wants to destroy you, that enemy will seek above all to affect adversely
your mind and morale — your character.
When enemies seriously intend to harm a nation, their ultimate aim —
that is, the reason that they will go after certain material targets and
do the other particular things they do — is to break its will, and to break its spirit. The real goal, in short, is to de-MORALIZE the society. Demoralization is the ultimate aim of the conflict — it is the
goal that is pursued with weapons and other material means. The goal is to break the will, and once the will is broken the rest follows. So nothing is more important militarily than to defend the moral strength and integrity of your forces. And likewise nothing is more important to the survival of a nation than to defend its moral foundations — the integrity and moral strength of its people.
So at this moment, when the attention of our country has been so rudely
shifted from the question of impeachment to the bombs that our president
has directed against Iraq, we should make a special effort to remember the weapons that are the most dangerous threats to our nation right now,
and who is deploying them. It is true today, as it was true last week and last year, that Bill Clinton represents a wholesale assault on our moral integrity as a people, and on those practical concepts which flow from that moral integrity — including self-discipline, respect for oaths, respect for the law. Without these things, our material prosperity might continue for a time. Without these things, our physical
security against foreign assaults might for a time remain adequate. But without these things our way of life cannot survive, because without moral integrity our freedom as a people would perish.
We are now facing the most potent assault that can be made against our
real liberty, and it takes the form of this lawless, immoral president. It takes the form of the arguments being made on his behalf that would have us accept lawlessness, and that would have us accept the concepts which break down our sense of responsibility and moral discipline — particularly in those things which affect the elemental institution of our society, which is the family.
We should view the impeachment process in the context of this life-threatening crisis of the Republic. We should understand Bill Clinton’s whole administration — and particularly the terrible scandal in which he has embroiled us — as a moral thermo-nuclear weapon that has
gone off in our midst, massively intensifying our general moral crisis. It has been detonated in such a way that its malicious influences are everywhere in the society, and especially in our homes and families.
If President Clinton is worried about the threat to America posed by weapons of mass destruction, he could start by looking in the mirror. William Jefferson Clinton is a weapon of mass destruction more dangerous
to America than anything in the arsenal of Saddam Hussein.
The Clinton crisis is not an “episode” of sexcapades in the White House. It is not a personal crisis of Bill Clinton. It is not a small and isolated distraction from the “real” threats to our well-being posed
by turmoil in the markets or Iraqi bomb programs. The Clinton crisis is a crisis of the regime — a moment of decision about what kind of people
we are and how we intend to live together. Our response to the Clinton crisis will in fact determine, right here and now, whether we have a chance to continue to survive as a free people. Our liberty is truly at stake.
And so the impeachment process is an effort, in the wake of the nuclear
blast we call “the Clinton Administration,” to begin to put things back together so that we will preserve our free way of life. And that means that it is a momentous challenge.
There may be some people in the Congress who don’t understand this, or
just don’t want to see it this way. There are certainly many people of narrow vision and short-sightedness — of moral obtuseness — who will
insist that nothing important is at stake in the impeachment effort. I disagree with them, and am morally certain that my view will be borne out if we go the wrong way. This fills me with a deep sense of sorrow for the future of the country.
But it is also what makes me celebrate the emerging possibility that our
representatives in the Congress will do the right thing. This possibility should inspire us to continue in the effort so that, perhaps, we will get a fair judgment in the Senate. I do not assume that the outcome in the Senate is a foregone conclusion. We should let the process move forward, let the charges be made, and let the stage be set for a fair trial of these matters, in which the true import of the president’s offenses can be brought forward, as Mr. Schippers has been doing in the House and as would presumably continue to be done in greater depth in the Senate.
The impeachment and removal of Bill Clinton loom far larger for the future and destiny of this nation than many would have us believe. In the midst of the turmoil and confusion that surrounds these matters and the effort by the media to reduce the question of impeachment to a mere fight for votes, it is good to step back and keep our eye on the real scale of the stakes for America and the world. While there won’t be any air-raid sirens sounding in Washington this week, the Congress will be engaged in the most important act of national self-defense in a long, long time.