Jude Wanniski
January 19, 1999


Memo To: Maureen Dowd, NYTimes Columnist
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Explaining the Impeachment Process

You may recall, Maureen, that at the San Diego Republican convention in 1996, I introduced you to the concept that the Democratic Party is the "Mommy Party" and the Republican Party is the "Daddy Party." This derives from the oriental concept of yin and yang, which divides the cosmos into yin, which is feminine, dark and negative, and yang, which is masculine, light and positive. The Democratic party is the Mommy Party in that it represents security, which must be pessimistic, just as mother and wife as traditional keepers of hearth and home are risk averse. Republicans represent growth, which results from risk-taking, which requires optimism, which father and husband need as they set forth to improve the conditions of the family. The family is in harmony, as is the cosmos, when yin and yang are in balance.

You actually used the metaphor in one of your columns soon thereafter, as I recall. After I read your Sunday column in the Times, "Soft-Porn Nation," it occurred to me that this is why the two parties are split down the middle on the question of the President's behavior and whether it requires his removal from office. Because you tend to be slightly "Mommy" in your general outlook, your column makes fun of the three-day presentation by the House Managers, especially Florida's Bill McCollum, who said "'genitalia' three times, 'oral sex' three times and 'breasts' four times in the well of the Senate." You write: "So what did we learn after these two 'historic'days? President Clinton lied. He was alone with Monica Lewinsky and played with her sexually. He coached Betty Currie and enlisted Vernon Jordan in a job search for his playmate. He has a complicated understanding of the word 'is.'"

Republicans become Republicans because they think more about maintaining standards of behavior than Democrats do. Their focus is the individual while the Democratic focus is the community. Republicans think of the consequences of the commander-in-chief setting a bad example for the forces who must be conditioned to follow the rules or at a vital moment one break in the ranks might cause the battle to be lost, sweeping along with it hearth and home, mother and children. Democrats think about giving people another chance, and wonder about rules that force men to operate in lockstep. Without balance of yin and  yang in a nation state, in the "Daddy" extreme there is fascism, and in the "Mommy" extreme there is communism.

If you had listened carefully during the Senate trial, you would have heard the House managers representing an almost unanimous Republican decision in the House to find the President guilty of crimes that would weaken the standard of behavior for the chief law-enforcement officer and the commander-in-chief. GOP Rep. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who was a prosecutor in the armed forces in Europe, at one point in the Judiciary hearings talked about how he saw many times how pilots who argued for a relaxed enforcement of one of their own who had broken the rules, would swing around to support strict enforcement after they had taken an oath to render impartial justice. Graham had publicly stated after the President's grand jury testimony that he would not vote to impeach the President as long as he reconciled himself with the law. If the President had only acknowledged the fact that he broke the law, Graham was prepared to give him a break. When the President followed a legalistic track as soon as the Democrats gained seats in November, thinking he could get away with it all, Graham became the President's most dangerous critic. In these circumstances, Maureen, Daddy has dug in his heels, and when we see the President's lawyers this week continue that line of argument, all the movement will be from Democratic side of the aisle to the Republican side. Not all Democrats will come over. The most "Mommy" of them will continue to argue that the President's felonies do not rise to the level of misdemeanors. Senator Barbara Boxer is determined to give her "boy Bill" another chance, no matter what he did.

If Bill were a Republican, of course she would vote to convict, because n he is not part of her Democratic family. In that sense, Republicans are more likely to support high standards, which is how they came to break away from Richard Nixon in 1973 during his impeachment hearings. Democrats now harken back to the "bipartisanship" of the House Judiciary Committee in 1973-74, but of course House Democrats were solidly against Nixon from the git-go. Mommies dote on their own children, but not necessarily the neighbors' children, while Daddies have to rely on the neighbor boys when the community needs a force to form a posse, fight a battle, or kill a moose for dinner.

You may be aware, from some of my memos, that I was in Lindsey Graham's corner, arguing against impeachment as long as the only behavior involved was consensual sex, and he could dispose of his problem with Paula Jones with a settlement satisfactory to her. It was when I learned that the President told Sidney Blumenthal a year ago that Monica Lewinsky threatened him unless he had sex with her. He told Sid that it was when he refused that the threats were made good with the lies she was spreading about their relationship. There can be no second chance for a man who would tell such lies to his subordinates,  prepared to use the powers of his office and a he-said, she-said defense to save his own neck at the expense of a young woman who had fallen victim to his charms. Power is a powerful aphrodisiac, Henry Kissinger once observed.

The President continues to believe Mommy will save him, that his Mommy Party will gather him under its skirts and protect him from Daddy's harsh strictures and standards. Instead, the Daddy side of the Mommy Party will break loose, with Robert Byrd of West Virginia leading the way. Notice that Fritz Rollings of South Carolina has not said a word in public. He will vote conviction, I believe, as will other old-fashioned Southern and border-state Democrats. The Mommy Democrats will do their darndest to prevent Blumenthal and Betty Currie from making the witness list, but they are the most important if the President is going to be convicted. Monica Lewinsky would draw a big tv audience. But for the greatest impact on the Senators themselves, it is the developed testimony on the President's evil moment setting up Monica as the stalker, with him as the victim, that will bring the President's tenure to a close.