Does a Felony Rise to the Level of Misdemeanor?
Jude Wanniski
January 4, 1999


Memo To: Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE)
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Here Come De Judge

If you have the opportunity, you should watch a videotape of your appearance yesterday on "Meet the Press." You may have thought you came across as a no-nonsense, man-of-the-world, laughing off arguments having to do with the Constitution and announcing that a felonious perjury does not rise to the level of impeachment. To me, you seemed oddly clownish, babbling as if you were in a comedy skit. You should watch the face of your Democratic colleague, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, as you babbled on about how the President is innocent of the articles of impeachment sent by the House and you, by God, are going to vote for acquittal as soon as Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist swears you in as an impartial juror. I mean, Senator, Lieberman's eyes bugged out. He is trying to work out some sort of deal with Republican Sen. Slade Gorton of Washington that would enable nervous Senators to avoid voting on whether a felon belongs in the Oval Office. He has the best intentions, but when he eyeballed you doing the clown bit, Here come de Judge. I think he must have wondered if he is doing the right thing.

Pardon me, Senator, but with all due respect, I understand you are the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, which suggests you should be judicious at a time of the trial of the century which is how Sen. Arlen Specter [R-PA] sees it. It does not rise to the level of the impeachment of Socrates, but Arlen is right about this century. It does put us at a cultural divide or crossroad, and it should not be trivialized. If the nation is going to move out of the era of anything-goes permissiveness, which was ushered in by the years of war and inflation, we have to make it absolutely clear that the President cannot commit a felonious act and simply say, "The devil made me do it." Senator Lieberman is a religious man, and as such he will always be at the forefront of the forgiveness and reconciliation line. But I assure you he was pushed to the end of his tether by the President's Rose Garden performance, celebrating his impeachment. It suggests to him that if there is no up-and-down vote on whether perjury rises to the level of misdemeanor or impeachment, William Jefferson Clinton will throw a huge White House party to celebrate his acquittal. Barbra Streisand will sing a song, Jesse Jackson will say a prayer, Mephistopheles will serve the appetizers, and Lucifer the dessert.

Now Senator, I have to keep reminding people, so I will remind you, that I spent 1998 defending the President... and I continue to defend him until there is a trial and a vote of conviction or acquittal. If the President's lawyers can persuade the Senate that he is innocent of the articles of impeachment, I would be happy to come to a celebratory dinner at the White House, although I think I will bring my own very long spoon. My advice to you is to take all this seriously. You are still a relatively young man with a long way to go in the Senate limelight. You have to consider the possibility that the people of Delaware will ponder your behavior and will wonder about it as I did in watching you on Sunday's show.

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