JWR Jeff JacobyBen WattenbergTony Snow
Mona CharenDr. Laura
Linda Chavez

Paul Greenberg Larry ElderJonathan S. Tobin
Thomas SowellMUGGERWalter Williams
Don FederCal Thomas
Political Cartoons
Left, Right & Center

Click on banner ad to support JWR

Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 1999 /5 Shevat 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen

The vulgar decade

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) IT CANNOT GO ON FOREVER. At some point, the natural correcting mechanism that has always righted the American ship of state will assert itself.

For now, the nation may be content with a devious, morally corrupt, fast-talking salesman as chief executive. For now, people may tell themselves that perjury and witness tampering are minor offenses. But sometime, perhaps as soon as the election of 2000, Americans will begin to recognize that the peculiar morality we have been subscribing to for the past generation is incompatible with human excellence and therefore with the American spirit.

The impeachment of Andrew Johnson is now recalled by history as a partisan and bitter attack on an innocent president by a vindictive Congress. That is how President Clinton's defenders fancy his impeachment will be seen as well.

But if the Republicans in the House accomplished nothing else, they ensured that historians will examine the evidence against Clinton carefully in the decades and perhaps centuries to come. And it is quite likely that historians will see the two impeachments as bookends: the first an attempt to convict an unpopular but innocent man; the second an attempt to unseat a popular but guilty man.

Attending a wedding in New Jersey last weekend, my husband and I struck up a conversation with a lady from Louisville, Ky. Like most Clinton defenders, she professed to find his conduct "reprehensible" but thought the impeachment a draconian response. Why? Well, his behavior is just "human nature," she explained. And "they all do it."

I asked her if she had children. Yes, three daughters. And did she teach her daughters that it was no big deal to lie under oath? That it was just human nature to exploit a low-level government employee for sexual services while chatting on the telephone to members of Congress and political consultants?

W.H. Auden called the 1930s "a low, dishonest decade." Ours will perhaps be recalled as vulgar and gross. If the country were not marinated in Beavis and Butt-head, the Simpsons and the rest of the garbage we call entertainment, Bill Clinton could never have succeeded. Yes, he shrank the presidency to fit himself, but a coarsened electorate had to give its consent.

Make no mistake, it is a feature of the coarse and base to disbelieve in honor and virtue. Those who choose to dishonor themselves and their offices cannot face the truth of their own depravity and accordingly choose to believe that honest and striving people are frauds.

This is not to say that we have no morality in America today. What we have is the triumph of liberal morality. There are certain very limited things liberals consider immoral -- racism, smoking, cruelty to animals -- and they don't place too much emphasis on consistency.

They claim, for example, that the president's sexual conduct is "private" and beyond the scope of public concern. Yet they were exceedingly interested in private conduct by former Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), who was ousted for doing far less with women than President Clinton has acknowledged. Let's pass over for a moment the fact that President Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, not for sexual immorality alone. If sexual conduct by an elected official is irrelevant to his public duties, why did Sen. Packwood have to go?

And if sexual behavior is beyond the legitimate scope of public inquiry, why was alleged private sexual talk by Justice Clarence Thomas a matter of vital national concern? Is it because, as Charles Ruff, the president's lawyer, would have it, judges sit for life while presidents serve only a fixed term?

In that case, we will have established the precedent that judges, Supreme Court justices and senators are all to be held to one standard, while presidents -- who symbolize the nation -- will be held to another.

Or is it simpler? Is it that Republicans will be held to one standard and Democrats to another? If that is the case, then we have left objective morality far behind to operate in the realm of pure power politics, where the only relevant question is: "Whose ox is being gored?"


1/19/99:Was Jefferson libeled by DNA?
1/13/99: The backlash picks up speed
1/11/99: Who invented politics of personal destruction?
1/07/99: Shall we dance?
1/05/99: Try him!
12/30/98:The price of virtue
12/28/98: The gift of giving
12/22/98: Party of shame, party of shamelessness
12/18/98: Wag the country
12/16/98: Is this impeachment constitutional?
12/14/98: Republicans find courage
12/09/98: Nappy Hair and other racial slurs
12/07/98: Stranger in a strange land
12/02/98: Dangerous ground
11/30/98: Involuntary fatherhood?
11/24/98: Lies, damned lies, and sex lies
11/18/98: Another victory for cowardice
11/16/98: Separatism plus welfarism equals a dead end
11/10/98: Did conservatism lose campaign '98?
11/06/98: Democrat venality, Republican timidity
11/04/98: Are girls being shortchanged?
11/02/98: Believe the children?
10/28/98: What 'Measure 58' would do
10/26/98: The officers are bailing out
10/20/98: Using Matthew Shepard's murder
10/19/98: The school voucher that saved a family
10/14/98: Are powerful women different?
10/09/98: Can just sex be impeachable?
10/07/98: Repeal Miranda
10/02/98: Understanding the polls
10/01/98: What school texts teach about marriage
9/28/98: Fear of choice
9/23/98: A fork in the road: Bubba's fate and ours
9/18/98: Christianity and the Holocaust
9/16/98: The national dirty joke
9/11/98: Are we in crisis?
9/09/98: Does Burton's sin let Clinton off the hook?
9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
7/10/98: Guns as the solution?
7/8/98: Teacher preacher
7/6/98: The China behind the headlines
7/1/98: What is the First Amendment for?
6/26/98: The Republican city
6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.