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Jewish World Review / Oct. 9, 1998 /19 Tishrei, 5759

Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas Impeachment: an outside perspective

OCCASIONALLY, IN THE HEAT OF RHETORICAL BATTLE, an outside voice can help clarify a contentious issue. Two such voices came to me this week. One was the voice of the House Judiciary Committee's chief Republican investigator, David P. Schippers. What makes him an outsider? He's a life-long Democrat who has a record of putting principle above partisanship and country before self-interest. It is as true now as it was 30 years ago when he was fighting organized crime and some of those in Congress were waving Viet Cong flags during antiwar demonstrations.

The second voice is an older one. It is found in an ancient Proverb: ``To show partiality in judging is not good: Whoever says to the guilty, `You are innocent' -- peoples will curse him and nations denounce him. But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come upon them'' (Prov. 24:23-25). Someone should hang this in the House and Senate chambers during the coming days of impeachment and possible trial of President Clinton.

Schippers succinctly and powerfully outlined the case against the president, listing 15 potential offenses against the law and his constitutional oath of office. All of it Schippers found ``substantial and credible.''

Democrats were reduced to substantially incredible defenses. None of them denied the charges, but all of them claimed the charges do not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. Democrats are in danger of becoming known as the party of adultery, kinky sex and moral relativity. Instead of cutting their losses and rebuilding their party on a foundation of integrity, Democrats risk going down with the ship and suffering titanic losses because of a debauched captain. It may take them a generation to recoup.

Schippers added an emotional conclusion, later stricken from the record, but reinstated courtesy of remarks by Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.). Schippers said, ``You're not being watched only by the individuals in this room or even by the immense television audience throughout the world. Fifteen generations of Americans, our fellow Americans, many of whom are reposing in military cemeteries throughout the world, are looking down on and judging what you do today.

Is one man, Bill Clinton, worth destroying a party for or, worse, compromising a nation's integrity? That is what each Democrat will have to ask before casting a vote for or against the impeachment and removal of Bill Clinton from office. Republicans thought Richard Nixon wasn't worth that price, so they dumped him. They lost big in the 1976 election, but returned to fight for their issues and causes four years later and may be on the verge of winning complete control in 2000, which is what really alarms liberal Democrats.

Twenty-four years ago, the current ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers (D-Mich.), sounded like a much wiser man when he said this about impeachable acts during the Watergate inquiry: ``By the same policies of secrecy and deception, Richard Nixon also violated a principal tenet of democratic government: that the president, like every other elected official, is accountable to the people. For how can the people hold their president to account if he deliberately and consistently lies to them? The people cannot judge if they do not know.''

Conyers worried about the precedent the Watergate inquiry might set for future Congresses. He feared they might ``recoil from ever again exercising this power. They may read the history of our work and conclude that impeachment can never again succeed unless another president demonstrates the same, almost uncanny ability to impeach himself. If this is our legacy, our future colleagues may well conclude that ours has been a pyrrhic victory, and that impeachment will never again justify the agony we have endured. It is imperative, therefore, that we speak to them clearly: impeachment is difficult and it is painful, but the courage to do what must be done is the price of remaining free.''

Mr. Conyers, meet Mr. Conyers, or, better still, David Schippers, or, best of all, the Proverb writer who warned what happens to people and nations that refuse to convict the guilty.


10/07/98: The corruption of the Secret Service
10/02/98: Land erosion in Israel
10/01/98: The race panel: lies in black and white
9/18/98: The Clinton strategy and the Clinton legacy
9/18/98: Stopping him before he sins again
9/15/98: Repenting when the end is near
9/11/98: Faithfully executing: Congress vs. the President
9/10/98: The degrees of separation between Dan Burton and Bill Clinton
9/08/98: Joe Lieberman and the Democrats' conscience
9/04/98: Clinton vs. Reagan and the struggle for power
9/02/98: If only Bubba had been a Boy Scout
8/31/98: Liberal clergy and the Lewinsky affair
8/27/98: Combating the terrorists among us
8/25/98: The president as 'Chicken Little'
8/20/98: That was no apology
8/18/98: Big government's crab grab
8/14/98:Untruths, half-truths and anything but the truth
8/12/98: Lying under oath: past and present impeachable offenses
8/10/98: Endangered species
8/04/98: In search of an unstained president
7/31/98: The UK is ahead of US in one area...
7/28/98: Murder near and far
7/21/98: Telling the truth about
homosexual behavior
7/17/98: One Nation? Indivisible?
7/14/98: Who cares about killing when the 'good times' are rolling?
7/10/98: George W. Bush: a different 'boomer'
7/08/98: My lunch with Roy Rogers
7/06/98: News unfit to print (or broadcast)
6/30/98: Smoke gets in their eyes
6/25/98: Sugar and Spice Girls
6/19/98: William Perry opposed
technology transfers to China
6/19/98: The Clinton hare vs.the Starr tortoise
6/17/98: The President's rocky road to China
6/15/98: Let the children go
6/9/98: Oregon: the new killing fields
6/5/98: Speaking plainly: the cover-up continues
6/2/98: Barry Goldwater: in our hearts
5/28/98:The Speaker's insightful remarks
5/26/98: As bad as it gets
5/25/98:Union dues and don'ts
5/21/98: Connecting those Chinese campaign contribution dots
5/19/98: Clinton on the couch
5/13/98: John Ashcroft: another Jimmy Carter?
5/8/98: Terms of dismemberment
5/5/98: Clinton's tangled Webb
4/30/98: Return of the Jedi
4/28/98: Desparately seeking Susan
4/23/98: RICO's threat to free-speech and expression
4/21/98: Educating children v. preserving an institution
4/19/98: Analyzing the birth of a possible new nation
4/14/98: What's fair about our tax system?
4/10/98: CBS: 'Touched by a perv'
4/8/98: Judge Wright's wrong reasoning on sexual harassment
4/2/98: How about helping American cities before African?
3/31/98:Revenge of the children
3/29/98: The Clinton strategy: delay, deceive, deny, and destroy
3/26/98: Moralist Gary Hart
3/23/98: CNN's century of (liberal) women
3/17/98: Dandy Dan
3/15/98: An imposed 'settlement' settles nothing
3/13/98: David Brock's Turnabout

©1998, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Inc.