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Jewish World Review/ Feb. 11, 1999/ 25 Shevat, 5759

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez Why Dems have
the most to fear

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) THIS IS THE WAY impeachment ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

The Senate will acquit William Jefferson Clinton of high crimes and misdemeanors, but not vindicate him. No one -- not even the most partisan Democrat -- believes the president is truly innocent of charges that he lied under oath and encouraged others to do so.

But the senators are tired of sitting silent in their chairs while their poll numbers plummet and the president's soar, so they will vote to put this matter behind them as quickly as they can.

Democrats will try feebly to introduce a motion to censure the president, but whether they succeed or fail matters little. There will be no punishment for Bill Clinton. It has been that way nearly all his political life. Every time Clinton has lied, he's been rewarded, which has only encouraged him to lie more.

Democrats have far more to fear than Republicans about what happens next. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., voiced that anxiety recently in an interview with The Washington Post. He recounted a conversation he had on a campaign trip he took during the last election. His driver, a liberal activist, complained: "You know, I really don't care what Clinton did. It's not important to me or to my friends."

Feingold was shocked. "I don't want to sound self-righteous, but I care a lot about his behavior,"he told the woman. "For liberals to think that all we care about is 10-point programs and not values and how you live your life, no, no," he implored. "I deeply resent this president's behavior and what it's done to us."

When Clinton leaves office in two years, he will have succeeded in diminishing the stature of the office beyond recognition. No longer will a president be expected to exemplify high moral standards, be a hero to our children, someone we admire and trust. Surely Russ Feingold is not the only Democrat who understands this.

In both public and private, Democrats in Congress fairly drip contempt at the mention of Clinton's character. One liberal Democrat congresswoman recently complained to me that the president can't be trusted on human rights policy. He'll say one thing and do quite another, she said. While no fan of Clinton's Republican predecessors, the congresswoman acknowledged that they were at least men of their word, they had never lied to her about what they intended to do.

The problem is the president lies. He lies to his wife. He lies to his friends. He lies to his political allies. He lies to the American people. He even lies under oath. Everyone knows it. And no one does anything about it.

The next two years cannot be easy for the Democrats. Their fortunes are inextricably tied to the president's. He sets their party's agenda. They have no choice but to work with him and to accept him at his word, even when they know it isn't worth much. Those who vote to acquit the president will have this burden to bear. They will leave in office a man whom they do not trust.

Democrats have created a moral dilemma from which there is no escape. They have put their party on the side of perjury and obstruction of justice in order to save a man whom they fear will continue to embarrass and betray them.

Those fears are well-founded. Throughout the entire impeachment process, Clinton has behaved with utter defiance. Where other men would have retreated in shame, he has stayed in the public eye, cocky and sure that he would emerge unscathed. In his entire life, he has never been forced to face the consequences of his actions: not by his wife, not by the voters, not by his fellow Democrats in Congress.

Democrats have reason to be nervous. As sure as night follows day, history will repeat itself. It always does with Bill Clinton.


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©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.