John Doggett is a business school professor, management consultant and lawyer who lives in Austin, Texas. In 1998, Talkers Magazine selected John as one of the 100 Most Influential Radio Talk Show Hosts in America . In 1997, Headway Magazine selected John as one of the 20 Most Influential Black Conservatives in America. More ↓Less ↑
Have you wondered why the Senate is in such a hurry to end Clinton’s
“trial?” Are you curious why senators are afraid to hear from Betty Currie, Dolly Kyle Browning, Kathleen Wiley, and a host of other, relevant, witnesses? It’s simple. If the Senate has a real trial, evidence may emerge that will force it to remove Clinton from office. If that happens, Al Gore could serve as the president of the United States for 10 long years. That thought frightens Democrat and Republican senators and virtually eliminates the chance that they will remove Clinton, unless explosive new evidence forces their hand.
Our Constitution says that a vice president who serves more than half his or her predecessors term can run for election, but cannot run for re-election four years hence. If a vice president serves less than half of his or her predecessor’s term, he can run for election and, if elected, run for re-election, again. The halfway point in Bill Clinton’s second term was Jan. 20. Before the 20th, Al Gore was limited to a maximum of six years plus a few months, in office. Now that the 20th has passed, if the Senate removes Clinton, Al could serve as our president for an entire decade.
Prominent Democrat politicians haven’t stopped kicking themselves for their loss of nerve in 1991. They were so convinced that President Bush was
untouchable that they chose not to run. Then Bill won. Since then, every Democrat with an ego has said, “If he can be president, anyone can.” Democrat presidential wannabes have been waiting, holding their breath, for Clinton to go.
What aspiring Democrat presidential candidates do not want is to face a
President Al Gore in the 2000 primaries. They do not want to have to defend
themselves from charges that they are being “disloyal” to their party by challenging a man who became president after the impeachment, conviction and removal of Bill Clinton.
The strange world of prospective presidential contenders becomes clearer when you look at the math. Presidential candidates who are 50 today will be 52 when the next president takes the oath. If they are not elected president in 2000, they will have to wait until 2004 to run again. If we re-elect the person elected in 2000 in 2004, our 50-year-old candidates will be 59 by the 2008 election.
If the person who wins the 2000 election chooses a heavyweight as his vice presidential running mate, that VP will be the favorite in 2008. If the next vice president wins the presidency in 2008 and is re-elected four years later, our 50-year-old candidate of today will be 68 when he gets his next chance. I doubt a 68-year-old candidate could get elected in 2016. So, for baby boomer politicians, its run now or never run. The last thing any of them want is for Al Gore to be given a leg up by the Senate.
The other side of this equation is Bill Clinton. According to a recent
CNN/Time poll, less than half the Americans who are against removing Bill from office respect him as a person. Bill has lost the most important tool a president has, the power of moral leadership. Bill is, as we say in Texas, all hat; no cattle. His weakness works to the advantage of Democrats and Republicans in Congress. Bill can give speeches, but Congress will control the agenda for the next two years. Having a weak Clinton in office also heightens interest in the next crop of presidential contenders.
Everything changes if Al Gore becomes president next month. Al will insist that Democrats swear their loyalty to him. He will claim that since the forced removal of Clinton has devastated the country, no loyal Democrat should challenge his effort to heal our country by serving a full term of office. That argument is patently untrue, but Al Gore will play that tune every day to potential Democrat challengers. In addition, if Al does a halfway decent job, many Americans will want to give him a chance to have a full term with his own appointees.
Senate Democrats are furious with Bill for putting them in such an untenable political position. To be loyal to the left-wing of their party, they have to foreswear all that is decent and support an admitted liar and adulterer. To make sure that they do not lose their next election, however, they also have to put as much distance between themselves and Bill. The Clinton administration, which Bill promised was going to be the most ethical one in the history of our nation, has been the most scandal-plagued administration in the history of our country.
No one expects Clinton to clean up his act in the last years of his
presidency. Democrat senators have to hammer Bill, without removing him, so that the stench of his rotting administration doesn’t take them out in 2000.
They also have to end the “trial” as quickly as possible. Because another Clinton immorality bomb is due to explode at any moment.