Not that it’ll ever happen, but here’s the idea…
For the past few years – after getting over the rage at the GOP’s 1999 attempt at a coup de etat – I have come to firmly believe that the Clinton Impeachment was, in fact, the greatest gift the Republican Party could have given to the Democrats.
Far from being something shameful, I take it as a source of pride that the GOP were driven so berserk with hatred and were so nakedly hysterical for power that they were willing to abandon any pretense of law and order whatsoever and drag their Party through the sewer year after year with no purpose but vengeance and pique.
Well their raging drunk-dial of the US Constitution is all there, all on record, for anyone to see. They themselves set the bar for all future Presidential action and behavior, and set it not to enforce a particular standard, but cranked up however high enough was necessary to nail the Big Dog.
The goal was, always, to “Get Clinton”, regardless of the cost to the nation or the damage it would do. It was a straight-up lynchin’, which is what happens when you leave the statesmen by the curb and let your Party be run by liars, chickenhawks, criminals and fools.
Well the flip side of being a Party of liars, chickenhawks, criminals and fools, is, of course, that they are completely numb to the high crimes being committed – apparently on a daily basis, right in their faces and without apology – by their Administration.
Because Republicans really don’t care. Really. Like the plantation owners of the fascist antebellum South they so pathetically revere and desperately try to reanimate, “the rule of law” is for darkies and Yankees…but not for them.
Now their race is run, and these Princes of Lies and Lords of Fear are the masters of all they survey. And like the final chapter of Greek tragedy or some Existentialist Noir Thriller, they are trapped in their blighted Plantation House being eaten alive by the drooling, gibbering monsters they created to ride them to power.
To reach the pinnacle of power at which they now teeter they have had to hock the legacy of Lincoln and Teddy and Ike for an army of rabid bigots and skull-rotted Robertsons --- a White House run by a dry-drunk Monarchist who thinks Nixon’s only mistake was that he didn’t roll the tanks in the streets when the going got tough -- a Senate in the damp hands of pudding-spined losers and Christopaths -- and a House debased by the GOP to nothing but a threadbare negligee to cover up the yawning syphilitic sores of the Sugarland Mafia.
Discredited and hated around the world and the butt of jokes and sneers by anyone in this country who isn’t on their payroll and sporting an IQ above room temperature, the GOP got what it wanted, but they had to infest the nation with the worst kind of degenerative bone cancer to get it.
The Clinton Impeachment is not Abramoff, or DeLay, or Downing Street, or the House of Buggin’ (tip to TDS). Not the lies about nukes or the lies about terrorist ties to Iraq or the “we don’t torture” lies.
The Clinton Impeachment none of those things, or any of the rest of the long, sad litany of ethical implosion and treason that will be the bathtub ring this Administration leaves behind on our country after the have slouched off the world stage and into ignoble history…but it is the scrim that they have bequeathed us against which to project the story of that filth and failure.
Every saga needs a background against which the drama is enacted, and the Clinton Impeachment is that background, delivered on a silver platter.
And there is precedent.
First, a bit of history from the US Senate site…
The Senate demanded that the president turn over a document. The president—in the second year of his second term—refused. In an unprecedented and never-repeated tactic, the Senate then censured the president on March 28, 1834.
Two years earlier, President Andrew Jackson (pictured) had vetoed an act to re-charter the Bank of the United States. That veto became a major issue in his 1832 reelection campaign, as he decisively defeated Senator Henry Clay. After the election, Jackson moved to withdraw federal deposits from that bank.
When the new Congress convened in December 1833, Clay's anti-administration coalition in the Senate held an eight-vote majority over Jackson's fellow Democrats. Clay then challenged Jackson on the bank issue with a Senate resolution seeking a paper the president had read to his cabinet. When Jackson refused, Clay introduced the censure resolution.
After a ten-week debate, the Senate voted 26 to 20 to censure the president for assuming power not conferred by the Constitution. Jackson responded with a lengthy protest denying the validity of the Senate's action. In another unprecedented move, the Senate responded by refusing to print the president's message in its journal.
Sound familiar? Well tempus does just fugit right along, and a few years later (from the same site)…
By January 1837,having regained the majority, Senate Democrats voted to remove this stain from the record of an old and sick president just weeks from his retirement.
With boisterous ceremony, the handwritten 1834 Journal was borne into the mobbed chamber and placed on the secretary's table. The secretary took up his pen, drew black lines around the censure text, and wrote "Expunged by the order of the Senate." The chamber erupted in Democratic jubilation and a messenger was dispatched to deliver the expunging pen to Jackson. Dressed in the deep black of a mourner, Henry Clay lamented: "The Senate is no longer a place for any decent man."
And here a picture of that very document…
So here’s the plan, the beauty of which is both that it costs nothing, and the more it fails the more is gains resonance.
Just hang an amendment expunging the Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton on every bit of business in the Senate.
Something like, “The Senate acknowledges the injustice it has done to this good man…” and so forth. No more than a paragraph or two. Shit, I'll write the damned thing if that'll save time.
As the minority party, the Democrats can’t force a single hearing or subpoena a single witness, and Republicans are (and, for the foreseeable future, shall remain) as unmoved by concepts of fairness and comity and the rule of law as algae is unmoved by “Aida”; they jettisoned all of those inconvenient, impeding virtues -- along with their conscience and principles -- under Reagan and Gingrich as they sprinted towards the Golden Palace of Absolute Power.
However, what does seem to prod them grudgingly away from the thugocracy trough in which they have their snouts buried is embarrassment.
So the fact that, for the last fifteen years, DeLay has been the irrefutable Typhoid Mary of corruption and anti-democratic rhetoric and depravity is something the Republicans have never, ever given a rat’s ass about. For the last decade they’ve talked admiringly about his “effectiveness” and his “loyalty” and shrugged off his sleaze and fascism in the same way one might imagine wannabe serial killers talk about BTK; slavering approval of his technique and utter, sociopathic blindness to what all of that “technique” was in the service of.
But now that the Bugman and his Bagman have been dragged out into the light, suddenly the GOP has to slant-drill several miles into the ol’ thesaurus to find words like “indignant” and “reform” and “unacceptable”. And struggle to shape their mouths to say them with a straight face
And that’s what this amendment would do. That’s what – for example – asking Ailto what his learned opinion about impeachment would do.
Force them to shoot it down, over and over and over again. Keep dragging the Clinton Impeachment into every legislative transaction. Keep asking, as a small child might, to explain why was it OK to go after Bill with such merciless fury, but Dubya gets a pass regardless of what he does?
Or, if it wasn't, don't you owe it to the world and to history to admit you were wrong, apologize for what you did and wipe the record clean?
Otherwise, well, whatever will we tell the children?
One of the most famous things that never happened in politics was the Lyndon Johnson pig-fucker story, here recounted better than I possibly could by the irreplaceable Hunter S. Thompson in “Better than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie”
All I really wanted to tell you was this ancient and honorable story about how Lyndon Johnson first got elected to Congress, when his (heavily favored) opponent was a wealthy local pig farmer….
Remember that one, James? Sure you do. It’s a wonderful story, and I suspect it will cheer you up.
It goes this way: The year was 1948, as I recall, and Lyndon was running about 10 points behind, with only nine days to go…. He was sunk in despair. He was desperate. And it was just before noon on a Monday, they say, when he called his equally depressed campaign manager and instructed him to call a press conference at two or two-thirty (just after lunch on a slow news day) and accuse his high-riding opponent (the pig farmer) of having routine carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows, despite the pleas of his wife and children….
His campaign manager was shocked. “We can’t say that, Lyndon,” he said. “It’s not true.”
“Of course it’s not,” Johnson barked at him, “but let’s make the bastard deny it.”
Of course the Republicans – pig-fuckers all – will never take up the issue of their towering hypocrisy in letting Dubya skate over one massive, murderous lie after another when they marched Clinton to the gibbet over fellatio.
I just wanna make the bastards deny it.