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Jewish World Review Feb. 16, 1999 /30 Shevat, 5759

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell A national disaster

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) NOT SINCE THE O.J. SIMPSON MURDER TRIAL has so much evidence been disregarded in reaching a verdict as in the acquittal of Bill Clinton. In the Simpson trial, at least the witnesses were all heard and the evidence was all presented. In the Senate impeachment trial, even that was not permitted.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott made back room deals with the Democrats that prevented live witnesses and severely limited even the number who could be videotaped. You would think that the purpose of a trial was not to find out the truth and dispense justice but to "get it over with" and look bipartisan.

From the outset, speed was Senator Lott's watchword and, when he got a unanimous vote to postpone the tough issues, he all but proclaimed: "Look, Ma! I'm bipartisan." If -- God forbid -- he should ever run for president, that may get him a few favorable mentions in the liberal media. But at what a price!

The jurors in the O.J. Simpson case were largely ill-educated people who didn't read newspapers. But, in the United States Senate, most of the people are highly educated, well-experienced -- and certainly familiar with the polls. The Senators have "Honorable" in front of their names and degrees after them. Yet, in the end, both sets of people violated their oaths and voted for a lie that they knew was a lie.

So much for the Senators with their well-practiced presence, their flowing words and flowing manes. This whole sordid episode has turned over a lot of rocks and shown us what is crawling underneath.

The tragedy is not simply that the Senate could not muster the two-thirds vote required for conviction. The deeper and more long-lasting tragedy is that the Senate did not even have the guts to hold a meaningful trial. In their haste to "get this behind us," they have put in front of us, for years to come, the stark reality that presidents can violate the law with impunity, even when caught red-handed and with irrefutable evidence.

That knocks one of the key props out from under the whole system of checks and balances on which our free government depends. What we have gotten behind us is any meaningful check on the illegal activities of presidents -- future presidents even more so than the current incumbent.

Make no mistake about it, this was a major disaster. The only thing comparable that comes to mind is Pearl Harbor. But, at least we understood that Pearl Harbor was a disaster. That is what enabled us to overcome it and fight on to ultimate victory. There is no sign of any such awareness today that a debacle of constitutional proportions has just been self-inflicted. As so often happens in history, what began as one corrupt individual's actions spread to corrupt other people and other institutions. Our court system was corrupted by perjury, witness-tampering and hiding subpoenaed evidence.

The entire Democratic Party corrupted itself to save a man that most of them distrust, but whom they know to be key to their own political survival. Finally, even the Senate Republican leadership joined the corruption, throwing the House Republicans to the wolves, in order to wear the faded flower of "bipartisanship."

One of the revealing signs of what was happening occurred early in the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment proceedings. Chairman Henry Hyde noted that the Republicans had spent 167 hours reviewing the evidence, while the Democrats had spent just 22.

There were, of course, cries of outrage and charges of "partisanship" from the Democrats because Chairman Hyde had given out this information. But they didn't deny it. They knew that they had made up their minds and didn't want to be confused by the facts. By sticking together and ignoring evidence, the Democrats could prevent an impeachment vote from being bipartisan. That meant that the Republicans would look partisan by voting the way the evidence plainly pointed.

How did the Republicans manage to get themselves so completely out-foxed by the Democrats once again? Mainly by failing to make their case to the public and instead making back room deals. They have lost many a political battle that way.

But the problem with the Republicans goes much deeper than that. Despite their bad showing in last fall's Congressional elections, they seem still not to understand that you have to stand for something if you expect people to support you. Moreover, if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

02/8/99: Economic fallacies in the media: Part II
02/5/99: Why economists visit dentists so often
02/2/99: Warning: Good news
01/29/99: What is at stake?
01/26/99:Moral bankruptcy in the schools
01/22/99: Who is going to convict Santa Claus?
01/19/99: Seeing through the spin
01/13/99: A trial is a trial is a trial
01/11/99:Trials and tribulations
01/08/99: Rays of hope
01/04/99: Random thoughts
12/31/98: The President versus the presidency
12/29/98: The time is now!
12/23/98: World-class hypocrisy
12/21/98: The spreading corruption
12/17/98: Politically "contrite"
12/16/98: Polls and partisanship
12/14/98: The "non-profit" halo
12/11/98: Corruption and confusion
12/03/98: The health care "crisis"
11/30/98: Knowing what you are talking about
11/23/98: The impeachment legacy
11/23/98: Random thoughts
11/19/98: Tales out of bureaucracies
11/16/98: Scholarships based on scholarship
11/12/98: Forward march
11/09/98: Moral outrage
11/05/98: Will the Republicans ever learn?
11/02/98: A voter's duty
10/30/98: The poverty pimp's poem
10/29/98: Random thoughts on the election
10/27/98: "Partisan" and "unfair"
10/23/98: Ed-u-kai-tchun
10/21/98: McGwire, Maris and the Babe
10/16/98: Lightweight Boxer
10/14/98: A strange word
10/09/98: Impeachment standards
10/08/98: Alternatives to seriousness
10/07/98: Heredity, environment and talk
10/02/98: A much-needed guide
10/01/98: Starr's real crime
9/24/98: Costs and power
9/18/98: Are we sheep?
9/16/98: Judicial review
9/15/98: Hillary Rodham Crook?
9/14/98: Taking stock
9/11/98: Moment of truth
9/04/98: Random thoughts
8/31/98: The twilight of special prosecutors?
8/26/98: "Doing a good job"
8/24/98: America on trial?
8/19/98: Played for fools
8/17/98: A childish letter
8/11/98: Hiding behind a woman
8/07/98: A flying walrus in Washington?
8/03/98: "Affordability" strikes again
7/31/98: Random thoughts
7/27/98: Faith and mountains
7/24/98: Clinton in Wonderland
7/20/98: Where is black 'leadership' leading?
7/16/98: Do 'minorities' really have it that bad?
7/14/98: Race dialogue: same old stuff
7/10/98: Honest history
7/09/98: Dumb is dangerous
7/02/98: Gun-safety starts with
parental responsibility
6/30/98: When more is less
6/29/98: Are educators above the law?
6/26/98: Random Thoughts
6/24/98: An angry letter
6/22/98: Sixties sentimentalism
6/19/98:Dumbing down anti-trust
6/15/98: A changing of the guard?
6/11/98: Presidential privileges
6/8/98: Fast computers and slow antitrust
6/3/98: Can stalling backfire?
5/29/98: The insulation of the Left
5/25/98: Missing the point in the media
5/22/98: The lessons of Indonesia
5/20/98: Smart but silent
5/18/98: Israel, Clinton and character
5/14/98: Monica Lewinsky's choices
5/11/98: Random thoughts
5/7/98: Media obstruction of justice
5/4/98: Dangerous "safety"
5/1/98: Abolish Adolescence!
4/30/98: The naked truth
4/22/98: Playing fair and square
4/19/98: Bad teachers"
4/15/98: "Clinton in Africa "
4/13/98: "Bundling and unbundling "
4/9/98: "Rising or falling Starr "
4/6/98: "Was Clinton ‘vindicated'? "
3/26/98: "Diasters -- natural and political"
3/24/98: "A pattern of behavior"
3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1998, Creators Syndicate, Inc.