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Jewish World Review / Dec. 18, 1998 / 29 Kislev, 5759

Don Feder

Don Feder Impeach or abandon the Rule of Law

THE IMPEACHMENT VOTE IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES could be the most important in our lifetime. At stake is America's future as a nation of laws.

The rule of law. We use the phrase so casually, yet so much depends on its operation.

It means one standard of justice for everyone --- the powerful and powerless, the street criminal and the corporate crook, the common felon and the presidential perjurer.

No one is above the law; all are subject to its strictures.

The founding fathers were committed to this ideal. Historian Paul Johnson writes: "Next to religion, the concept of the rule of law was the biggest single force in creating the political civilization of the colonies. ... The law was not just necessary -- essential to any civil society -- it was noble."

Having freed themselves from one monarch, the founders had no intention of submitting to elected tyrants. They gave us a Constitution on which the rule of law is based.

They established courts to administer laws passed by the people's representatives. In the Constitution, they charged the president to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

As a group of legal scholars, including two former attorneys general, affirmed in a statement to the House Judiciary Committee, "If the top sworn law enforcement official of the United States is permitted to undermine the Constitution and the rule of law, who can feel a moral obligation to testify truthfully?"

Finally, the founders provided the mechanism of impeachment and removal when a president's conduct directly threatens the rule of law.

Bill Clinton's fate has yet to be determined. His guilt is undisputed. Even the censure resolution prepared by committee Democrats charges that the president "made false statements concerning his reprehensible conduct."

And what do we call it when a person makes "false statements" under oath?

The resolution also claims Clinton "wrongfully took steps to delay discovery of the truth" --- otherwise known as obstruction of justice. In attempting to fashion an escape hatch, Democrats unintentionally make the case for impeachment.

I am thrilled that Republicans wouldn't allow the exculpatory charade of a censure motion, a device as unconstitutional as it is meaningless.

If Clinton is merely censured, he will have gotten away with it -- it being offenses for which a lesser mortal would be doing serious jail time.

To save Clinton from the rule of law, appeals are made to Gallup, Dow Jones and the smooth functioning of government.

Public opinion? The American people feel so deeply about all of this that less than 40 percent of those eligible to vote did so in 1998.

The only impact this president has ever had on the economy is to try to send it into deep recession, with his tax hike and attempt to nationalize the health care industry in 1993-1994.

A presidency in crisis only affects the operation of government when the president in question actually governs. Bill Clinton has sleepwalked through the past six years. On those rare occasions when he acts decisively (Bosnia, the Middle East, judicial nominations), the results are catastrophic.

To make the rule of law contingent on opinion surveys or the economy makes a mockery of justice. Equal justice for all, but only if the public approves? Should the goddess of justice weigh right and wrong in one scale and bond yields in the other?

All of the political horrors of the 20th century began with the abandonment of the rule of law. For what should we take this first step on the road to ruin? To allow a man without honor, shame or scruples to escape the consequences of his criminal acts?

The public still doesn't get it. Pray that 218 members of the House of Representatives do.


12/16/98: Clinton moves Middle East closer to war
12/14/98: Why we lost interest in the homeless
12/10/98: No place at table for conservatives
12/07/98: The day America lost its innocence
12/02/98: Pilgrims Pilloried in streets of Plymouth
11/25/98: Caribbean dogpatch not a good candidate for statehood
11/25/98: Will Vermont force gay marriage on the nation?
11/18/98: The ACLU wants your kids to get a love life
11/16/98: Why liberals hate tobacco and guns more than drugs and crime
11/16/98: "Pleasantville" a countercultural morality play
11/13/98: Ads are a tough sell for abortion
11/09/98: Why gutless Republicans lost
11/06/98: Historians against the Constitution
11/02/98: Loving response to a hateful conference
10/28/98: Professor Death will fit right in at Princeton
10/26/98: Plymouth caves to Pilgrim foes
10/21/98: On '98 election, keep a critical eye on polls
10/19/98: Clinton could yet be 'prosperity president'
10/16/98: Working families -- Dems love 'em (stuffed)
10/09/98: Majoring in 'weirdness'
10/07/98: Friends of Billy Clinton
9/29/98: Letter from ex-soldier highlights defense peril
9/28/98: Answering arguments against impeachment
9/18/98: The nation that doesn't exist
9/14/98: Bubba isn't the only one who should be ashamed
9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
9/09/98: We're still just wild about Harry
9/07/98: Mexican banditry didn't end with Pancho Villa
9/02/98: Clinton forgives us!
8/31/98: Ashcroft's plain talking touches responsive chord
8/26/98: Public opinion be damned
8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
8/10/98: The truth won't set Clinton free
8/06/98: Truth about Hiroshima is incontrovertible
8/04/98: Clinton not the first hollow president
7/30/98: "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory
7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
6/24/98: Will Clinton betray Taiwan?
6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
4/22/98: School-choice is a religious freedom issue
4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.