HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS
A vote by the House of Representatives to impeach the president would be
the single most despicable, political and hypocritical action in the
history of that institution.
The Republicans in the House have been trying to determine what is a high crime and misdemeanor. But they've gotten it all wrong. It isn't a president who literally gets caught with his pants down by an over-zealous prosecutor with no respect for human privacy. It isn't lying about sex to cover up an illicit affair.
For a great example of a high crime and misdemeanor, the House Republicans need only to look in the mirror. Most if not all of them were elected with large financial contributions from corporations, lobbyists and special interest groups seeking to influence their votes. If that isn't legalized bribery, I don't know what is. Yet the House Republicans refused to approve campaign finance reform.
Someone should give the House Republicans a special award for hypocrisy. They are more likely to have committed socially prohibited sex acts and successfully covered them up than any similar-sized bunch of men in the U.S. And yet they condemn Clinton for trying to cover up his affair. They refused to vote for badly-needed health insurance reform, instead preferring to waste their time and energies, and perhaps the Senate's as well, on trying to remove from office the reform-minded, twice duly-elected president of the U.S.
Why? Not because he lied about sex. Republicans as well as Democrats do that all the time. No. Because he's a Democrat. This is an obviously purely partisan effort to change the results of two national elections. One only has to look at the party-line votes on the subject. But if you don't believe that, ask yourself this question: Would the House Republicans be trying so hard to impeach Clinton if he were a Republican?
No president should be impeached -- let alone tried and convicted and removed from office -- on party-line votes. There should be a large, national consensus, as there was for ousting Nixon. The current House Republicans are trying to subvert the Constitution, to attempt a legal "coup," to create a parliamentary system -- where the president serves until he loses a vote of confidence -- without amending the Constitution. They are, in short, collectively guilty of a high crime and misdemeanor.
The American people in their wisdom feel that Congress should pass a resolution condemning Clinton for his actions. They think that would be the appropriate punishment for any crime Clinton may have committed. The Republicans, it appears, will refuse to even allow a vote on this solution in the House. That is a callous subverting of the will of the people, another good candidate for high-crime-and-misdemeanor status.
I am thankful that Clinton won't resign and give in to this amazingly successful campaign by his opponents to oust him from office any way they can. Starr and his purely Republican supporters have employed the dirtiest tricks in the history of American politics, including the most reprehensible public invasion of a man's privacy ever. They don't deserve to succeed.
If we are going to impeach politicians for lying about sex, either the nation will be inundated with impeachments from now on or only saints need apply for office. From what is known about their sex lives, the framers of the Constitution didn't envision a nation like this. It certainly isn't one that I would like to see come about either.
Mr. Flaxman is the author of the just-completed book, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Monica Lewinsky." He lives in Fla.
Don Fass' City Flash
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