Memo To: Sen. Harkin [D-IA]
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Denizens of the Right?
Didn't you feel a little funny on "FoxNewsSunday" yesterday, when you spoke out against the Denizens of the Right who will do anything, ANYTHING to get President Clinton, even insist on calling witnesses to testify against him. There next to you sat Sen. Susan Collins, the most moderate Maine Republican, who most moderately reminded you that she was not a Denizen of the Right. You should have seen the bemused look on your face. Maybe you can get a tape. The fact is, Senator, that the House Judiciary Committee did not call witnesses because it merely was trying to dispose of the report of the independent counsel, Mr. Starr, who sent to Chairman Henry Hyde some 60,000 pages of evidence and sworn testimony. You were very busy during committee hearings, so you could not watch every minute of them, as I did, so you can't be expected to know all that transpired. It was not the Republicans who were partisan. It was the members of your party.
Just stop and think. There may be a third of the Republicans who are so rabid that they would vote to impeach the President just for parting his hair on the wrong side — although I don't think so. There may be a third of the Republicans who behave like sheep, and fall into line with whatever the Evil Christian Coalition and the rabid Denizens of the Right command — although I don't think so. But with all due respect, Senator, there has to be one third of the House Republicans who voted to impeach President Clinton on two of the four articles reported by the Judiciary Committee who are neither rabid nor sheep. The American people cannot have been so stupid as to vote the Republicans into continued control of Congress, knowing they are all slaves to the Evil Christian Coalition and Denizens of the Right. And they weren't.
So how do I explain the almost unanimous vote of House Democrats in opposing the articles of impeachment? It simply is that the GOP is not burdened with cohesiveness to the Democratic party leader who seems to have been committing felonious criminal acts (although I reserve the right to exonerate the President in my own mind if he can successfully defend himself against the charges of perjury and obstruction of justice). He and his lawyers chose not to call witnesses in the House, although they were invited by Mr. Hyde to do so if they wished. The President did not want any witnesses, Senator, because there was no percentage in their testimony, if submitted under oath. That is because the President has a weak case on the facts, as you will discover when you pay close attention as an impartial juror. He now has to make the best of the opportunity to persuade us even by splitting hairs that he is technically not a felon. If he can't do that, I expect you to vote for conviction, even though nobody will ever accuse you of being a Denizen of the Right.
Here is the memo I wrote to Henry Hyde on December 14:
December 14, 1998
The Partisan Impeachment
Memo To: Chairman Henry Hyde, House Judiciary Committee
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Party-Line Impeachment
Several months ago, you indicated in comments to the press that you did not think articles of impeachment could be advanced on a purely partisan basis — that there would have to be some Democratic support for a process directed at removing the President from office. I absolutely agreed with that sentiment at the time, believing a straight party line vote could too easily be interpreted as an unprincipled vote to shout the President out of office. At the time, it appeared to all the world that the Republicans would gain strength in the November elections, both in the House and the Senate. You went so far as to fix the schedule so that the hearings and vote on impeachment would take place this year, while the 105th Congress still sat, which seemed to give an advantage to the President based on expectations that the 106th Congress would be more, not less, Republican.
Having watched the televised hearings from gavel to gavel at my home, I can now appreciate why the vote could take place along straight party lines and why it is not inappropriate that it be a partisan impeachment. The fact is, the Republicans on the committee could vote purely on principle, because they were not encumbered by the pull of partisanship toward their party leader. You may not know, Henry, because I had not communicated with you on this matter earlier this year, that I had made every argument on behalf of the President that what he had done did not rise to the level of impeachment. His August 17 federal Grand Jury deposition satisfied me at the time that he had deftly skirted perjury by splitting hairs and taking advantage of every opportunity to hide behind legal technicalities. The hearings made all the difference in the world to me, because they made clear how much violence the President has done to the presidency, and the extent to which he was willing to use the powers of his office to protect himself at the expense of this female victim.
The vote was not bipartisan in your committee because there was never enough evidence to crack the Democrats in their predetermined position to form a solid line of defense for their party leader, a firewall that could be justified in their own minds by their willingness to vote a resolution of censure that would CONDEMN him, while not saying that condemnation should include a Senate trial and potential removal from office. They also comfort themselves with the fact that public opinion polls by a two-thirds margin seem so opposed to removal of the President. In other words, Democrats have this form of support for their partisanship in the body politic.
How can I say the Republicans on your committee voted purely on principle? First, your own framing of the hearings and your conduct throughout was clearly based on pure principle. Secondly, the careful piecing together of the evidence by your majority counsel, David Schippers, clearly demonstrated probable cause that the President was prepared to lie about his behavior in the same way a rapist will accuse his victim of having lured him into his attack. As an added ugly twist, the President told his aide Sidney Blumenthal that Monica Lewinsky had threatened him with exposure unless he submitted to sex with her. To see into the President's soul at a moment when he thought it was his word against that of his victim was enough to persuade me that he does not belong in the presidency. It will take a Senate trial to make it obvious he had to be removed in order to cleanse the office.
What has to happen is a willingness of Democrats to strip themselves of their partisanship, which can only happen as they are willing to submit to the Golden Rule. They have to reverse the situation and play all this through as if the President were a Republican and the Republicans were in control of Congress. This isn't easy to do. How many of the Democratic women who were ready to boil in oil Clarence Thomas, John Tower, or Bob Packwood for their behavior are now finding a man who has abused his political power to secure sexual favors for as far back as we can tell should merely be rebuked? Rep. Lindsey Graham clearly touched a raw nerve when he asked the women on the committee to think of what Clinton had done, as so many men have done when confronted with charges of rape or sexual harassment. Rep. Maxine Waters was furious at this suggestion, because it left her own partisanship exposed and forced her to confront pure principle, which she is not prepared to do. Yet that is exactly what I expect to happen in a Senate trial. The world's greatest deliberative body will be forced to look principle in the face.