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Date: Sat, 29 Nov 1997 07:03:32 -0800
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Why Impeachment Is Necessary (fwd)

>By Mark Helprin
>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
>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
>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 wake.
>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.

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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