The timidity of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and many of his
Republican colleagues has been attributed to two things: the polls and
pornographer Larry Flynt.
Although the president’s approval rating has begun to slide from the
lofty 73 percent reached on the day he was impeached, it is still
extremely high for any president, let alone one whose fate is now
twisting in the wind that is blowing through the chamber of the United
These senators need to be reminded that an approval rating is nothing
more than a reflection of our national well-being, a national
temperature check, and it’s slightly above normal. The stock market has
continued to rise after a late summer stumble and the economy is
churning along, although not running as smoothly as we are being led to
believe. The president just finished wagging Saddam Hussein’s dog and
came away, surprise, surprise, without a scratch, and most of us had a
turkey in the oven and some presents under the tree on Christmas day.
How we feel about Mr. Clinton personally is another story. We haven’t
heard much about those polls lately. Also, it is important to take a
good look at where the polls are taken. Very few are national polls. A
poll recently released by The New York Times showing glowing numbers for
the president was taken in New York City, Atlanta and Denver, three of
the most liberal cities in the U.S. The results would have been a bit
different if the poll had been taken in Birmingham, Newport Beach and
Salt Lake City. Now, far be it from me to suggest that Mr. Clinton has
some friends in high places at the major newspapers and television
networks who want to see our senators running scared, but it could
Then, there is the question: “Do you want the president removed from
office?” That’s like asking someone if he wants to see someone else
fired. No one wants to fire anybody. That’s why it’s so easy for
incumbents to get re-elected.
Kellyanne Fitzpatrick of the Polling Company says, “The kind of
answers you get depends on how you set up the question on impeachment.
When the public is asked, ‘If it is found that the president lied under
oath or obstructed justice, should the president be removed from
office?’ You will get a much different result.”
Also, most people want to look good to the poll takers. Since a good
one-third of the country has not examined the charges against Mr.
Clinton, they tend to repeat the last thing they have heard from an
authority figure. How many Republican senators have you heard say, “The
president is guilty and ought to be thrown out of office”? You don’t
hear that. Instead you hear, “I will wait to make a judgment until I
hear all the evidence.” Now, how many Democrats have you heard say
flatly, “The charges against the president do not rise to the level of
impeachment”? What’s the average Joe who wants to appear halfway
intelligent going to say?
The pornographer, Larry Flynt is much more problematic. Most people
have done something — sometime, somewhere — that they aren’t proud of,
something that they would not like to have exposed as part of the
national news, and that includes members of the United States Senate.
The message to our Senators should be, “Don’t be afraid of Larry Flynt.
Do your duty. Be courageous and we will support you.”