Time: Sat Oct 11 18:52:17 1997
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Date: Sat, 11 Oct 1997 18:49:54 -0700
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From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: "Impeach," Mark Helprin, The Wall Street Journal

>The Wall Street Journal
>October 10, 1997
>Here we stand in a clearing of the most difficult century of human
>history, wanting our deserved rest, and standing with us may be the most
>corrupt, fraudulent and dishonest president we ever have known.
>At the very least the president, before he became president, was at the
>heart of criminal financial dealings and bribery involving his wife and
>various felons who were his close associates. Upon his elevation to
>office, he worked hard to suppress and obfuscate the details of what he
>had done, while continuing in the same pattern as both he and the same
>and a new set of dishonest associates hid, withheld and destroyed
>records, purloined FBI files, used the IRS to intimidate opponents,
>plotted to cage government business, met with drug dealers, arms traders
>and mobsters, raised illegal campaign money, sold influence and shook
>down the Chinese.
>If we tolerate crime and corruption in the belief that they are but a
>small challenge to our great stores of virtue and probity, when next we
>look those great stores will be gone. Although it has its own price in
>damage and pain, holding the president to account would mean that future
>presidents would be, if not uncorrupt, less corrupt. Anyone aspiring to
>the presidency, from senators and governors to young state legislators
>and attorneys general, would have great incentive to stay on the
>straight and narrow.
>Class of Manipulators
>The consequences of letting it all pass would expand through generations
>to come, altering the fundamental equations of government and the
>relations of the governed and the governing. It would legitimate the
>most disturbing myths and prove the most cynical accusations. If it is
>left to stand it will shift power insufferably toward a class of
>manipulators and cheats. We have moved in that direction before, but
>have always pulled back. Now we are in danger of not pulling back.
>Perhaps most frightening to the politicians in whose hands rests the
>ability to remove him is the president's popularity. But the machinery
>of impeachment is structured in a constitutionally miraculous fashion to
>burn away the many layers of deliberate confusion laid on by the
>arrogant hand of power. It can, in clarifying the facts and stating
>bluntly the truth, transform the protective angels of presidential
>popularity into devils of the most relentless pursuit. Those who are
>reluctant to hold the president to account because he enjoys a 65%
>approval rating seem not to understand that he enjoys a 65% approval
>rating because they are reluctant to hold him to account.
>The president's supporters who willfully sleepwalk through the stream of
>charges against him feel that an attack on him is an attack on their
>beliefs. They are mistaken. If he is removed from office, a president
>and vice president of the same political party and persuasion will
>remain. The near-impeachment and subsequent resignation of Richard Nixon
>did not, except for the strange interlude of Jimmy Carter, compromise a
>24-year GOP presidential sweep. Besides, in so promiscuously adopting
>his opponents' positions, this president of muddy waters has removed a
>great deal of meaning from political battle and made opposition to him
>no longer a matter of politics or policy but mainly a matter of decency.
>As for his allies in Congress, they float on the wind like birds and
>will fly with the president only as long as he travels in buoyant air.
>Do not imagine that after counting the bodies thrown from the
>presidential sled the likes of Ron Dellums or Sen. Bob "Miracle Baby"
>Torricelli would stand by their captain even through a light drizzle.
>The president shifts blame. The sad faces that have been paraded before
>the camera before they quit or go to prison are the faces of people
>taking a rap, voluntarily or otherwise. But a president is responsible
>for what his minions do, especially when he directs them.
>He shifts arguments. His adventures in fund raising become his passion
>for campaign reform and then are transformed into indignation that his
>political rivals have prevented him from leading the American people
>into the cathedral of virtuous politics. He manages this because he may
>actually believe it.
>He and his apologists shift focus. They are astounded at the temerity of
>critics who compare him to Richard Nixon, and they love to make their
>contempt and astonishment clear. But there is an answer for them, which
>is that it is indeed possible to compare the two, and that in the daily
>exercise of comparison Mr. Nixon is animated in a ghostly walk toward
>Mount Rushmore. At least he had shame. At least he resigned. At least
>Republicans, broken-hearted though they may have been, finally stopped
>defending him.
>This president shifts out of the way, like a bullfighter. Of his many
>capes the vice president and Mrs. Clinton are the most waved in the
>wind. The president's wife is, of course, inextricably tied to the mass
>of escalating lies, but no matter what her crimes, sins or pretensions,
>she holds no office, and is therefore unremovable from office. She is a
>distraction, a diversion no less than the moon-faced underlings about to
>take a rap.
>The vice president is even more so, having by virtue of his office and
>his character great distractive potential. But though one of the
>distinct pleasures of modern political life, indeed of life in general,
>is to observe him as he simultaneously wounds and baffles himself,to
>bring the great cannon of a Senate trial to bear upon him would be like
>using an elephant gun to shoot an apple pip.
>The person in question here, as from the beginning, is not Al Gore. It
>is not Janet Reno. It is not Webster Hubbell, or Craig Livingstone, or
>Dan Lasater. And it is not Hillary Clinton. It is no one of these or
>anyone else but the president of the United States himself, in all his
>power and despite all his power.
>Each time a new infraction is unearthed, the president sits back,
>crosses his arms, and trumpets through his surrogates, "Where's the
>proof, the notarized film footage of me doing wrong? Don't you know? You
>can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man." He defines the rules of the
>game and controls the initiative, which is another way of saying that
>what we have here is a bunch of lawyers throwing out a lot of smoke and
>chaff. But the time has come to cut through that smoke and chaff with a
>resolute move that will leave all the maneuvering and obstruction in its
>President Nixon did not himself break into the Watergate. Nor were any
>direct orders uncovered implicating him. But a nation led by a worrying
>press made the appropriate connections even without judicial proof, and
>the president was driven from office. A quarter of a century ago,
>however, America had a general expectation of law and propriety, a press
>in implacable opposition, and a president who knew the difference
>between right and wrong even if he did not always observe it.
>Though these are now remarkable mainly for their absence, one thing is
>the same: The key congressional processes are controlled by the
>nonpresidential party. Because the press is languid and the public
>largely indifferent, responsibility falls on Congress. If justice is to
>prevail someone in Congress will have to step out in front and take some
>fire. Otherwise, nothing moves. A quarter of a century ago, the
>Democrats acted with anger for having lost the presidency and surety for
>having won Congress. Now the Republicans act with timidity for having
>lost the presidency and lack of certainty for having won Congress. They
>seem to be ignorant of Nelson's Trafalgar memorandum: "No captain can do
>very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of an enemy." That is,
>to fight.
>Why is Congress so pale in tooth and claw? Along with a great deal else
>in American life, much of what goes on in Washington is treated as a
>game. Only the clever get to rise, and they are proud of doing what it
>takes to win, whatever that may be. To paraphrase Maynard Keynes, when
>people like this are alone in a room, there is nobody there. But the
>difference between life and a game is that whereas the logic of a game
>demands doing what will succeed, the logic of life demands doing what is
>right. This may at times be an indiscretion, but indiscretions rightly
>motivated are the way history moves. Half of statesmanship is taking the
>somewhat blind step that carries no assurance of success but which has
>about it all the qualities of what is just.
>The Republican Party and its intellectuals have been searching hard for
>theme and direction. Futurism, the Contract With America, national
>greatness, capital gains: These have fallen flat not only because they
>are bereft of urgency but because they are as well an evasion of duty.
>Politically, there can be only one visceral theme, one battle, one task.
>If the party embraces it, the party will solidify. If it rejects it, it
>will drift.
>Subject to the Law
>The task is to address the question of President William Jefferson
>Clinton's fitness for office in light of the many crimes, petty and
>otherwise, that surround, imbue and color his tenure. The president must
>be made subject to the law.
>When that moment arrives it will signify the rejection of flattery, the
>rejection of intimidation, the rejection of lies, the rejection of
>manipulation, the rejection of disingenuous pretense, and a revulsion
>for the sordid crimes and infractions the president has brought to his
>office. It will come, if it does, in one word. One word that will lift
>the fog to show a field of battle clearly laid down. One word that will
>break the spell. One word that will clarify and cleanse. One word that
>will confound the dishonest. One word that will do justice. One word.
>Mr. Helprin, a novelist and Journal contributing editor, is a senior
>fellow at the Hudson Institute.
>Copyright ) 1997 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Paul Andrew Mitchell, Sui Juris      : Counselor at Law, federal witness 01
B.A.: Political Science, UCLA;   M.S.: Public Administration, U.C.Irvine 02
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