Timid, moderate Republicans kept warning Senate Republicans to end the
impeachment trial so as not to incur the people’s wrath and jeopardize
their hold on both houses of Congress in 2000. They were wrong.
Other Republicans held fast to their conviction that Senate Republicans
should be guided by principle, not political expedience. They were correct.
Feckless Republicans failed to comprehend that polls are one-dimensional.
Just because polls supposedly showed that most people wanted the trial to
be concluded quickly didn’t necessarily mean they would later punish
Republicans for insisting on completing the trial. The media’s incessant
reporting that there would be a backlash was their editorial opinion, not
objective news. Plus, it was contradicted by contemporaneous Zogby poll
results showing there was no evidence of a backlash.
This is not to say that Republicans cannot lose their congressional
majorities, but if they do it will be for reasons other than impeachment,
such as failing to govern and abandoning their conservative base.
Cocksure Democrats who continually predicted the demise of the GOP because of their tough stand on impeachment were probably posturing with the hope of intimidating Republicans into caving. Had they convinced Republicans to wholly abandon a trial, or to go along with them in some watered-down censure resolution, they would have effectively negated any stigma attaching to them for their shameless support of Clinton during the impeachment ordeal.
Though the Senate Republican leadership conspired with Senate Democrats to dispense with a genuine evidentiary trial, at least they resisted Byrd’s
motion to dismiss and insisted on completing the trial through a vote.
By adhering to principle to that extent and not acquiescing to the censure
charade, the Republicans not only did what was right — they distinguished
themselves from the Democrats and forced them to stand alone in their
support of Bill Clinton and to blend with him into historical infamy.
By their unwavering and unprincipled support of Clinton, congressional
Democrats have acquired ownership of the president and figuratively adopted
his felonies — even, to some extent, those not in issue at the time of the
trial. As Rush Limbaugh presciently observed, the Democrats, by their
actions, were wrapping themselves around all of Clinton’s Bruno Magli
shoes — i.e., future disclosures of Clinton’s wrongdoing.
Since the acquittal, a pair of Bruno Maglis has already surfaced: 1)
Juanita Broaddrick and 2) further disturbing revelations about this
administration compromising our national security in its dealings with Red
Please don’t tell me these matters are irrelevant. The most outspoken
senator against the impeachment proceedings, Tom Harkin, has allowed that
he may have voted differently had he known about Broaddrick.
Impeachment issues are unlikely to have much impact on congressional
elections in 2000, with the possible exception of very close races
involving high-profile impeachment players. What will ultimately drive those
elections will be the hot issues at the time of the election, the candidates
themselves and campaign money.
The scandal’s impact on the presidential race may be more profound. It is
a curious irony that while Clinton always manages to escape accountability
for his wrongdoing, his closest confidants do not. His former business partners and government appointees are racking up felony convictions right and left.
Assuming Al Gore gets by Bill Bradley and wins his party’s nomination, he
will have a difficult time distancing himself from the Clinton record –
all of it. And this won’t be merely a case of guilt (or credit) by association.
Gore has deliberately embraced every fiber of Clinton’s presidential
persona, even to the point of proclaiming him one of the greatest
presidents of the century the very day he was impeached!
When given an opportunity to retract his remarks by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer,
Gore refused. Then amazingly, he invoked Scripture to describe favorably
the Clinton administration: “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Ye shall
Gore’s presidential bid may help to unravel this curious mystery behind
dichotomous polls that on the one hand give Clinton high approval ratings
and on the other strongly disapprove of his character. The people are
probably far less willing to re-elect a scoundrel (or his protege) than
they are to favor his ouster.
If the Democrats’ promised backlash does materialize in 2000, its most
likely casualty will not be congressional Republicans, but our Buddhist
Temple-emissary, Al Gore.
To find out more about David Limbaugh, and read features by other
Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate