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Jewish World Review Nov. 17, 1999 /8 Kislev, 5760

Chris Matthews

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Our conveniently forgetful president -- BILL CLINTON MUST BELIEVE that nine months is the outer limit of the American memory. Either that or he remains in a deep state of denial about the humiliation he so recently caused himself and the country.

"I think that history will view this much differently," he said in an interview with ABC's Carole Simpson. "They will say I made a bad personal mistake, I paid a price for it, but that I was right to stand and fight for the country and my Constitution and its principles, and that the American people were very good to stand with me.

"I think that over the long run, the fact that we accomplished as much as we did in the face of the severe, bitter, partisan onslaught... will, in a way, make many of the things we achieve seem all the more impressive."

These words tell more about the president's state of mind today than the true events of 1998 and 1999. He wants his contemporaries to accept and wants future generations to be instructed that his impeachment and subsequent trial in the Senate resulted from behavior that was entirely "personal" and charges that were entirely political.

Fortunately, a printed record displays both the public nature of Clinton's misconduct and the bipartisan nature of its condemnation.

Prior to the Senate vote on whether to remove Clinton from office, 29 members of the president's own party sponsored a resolution of censure.

Co-sponsors included liberals Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Charles Schumer of New York, Bob Torricelli of New Jersey, John Kerry of Massachusetts, as well as the prime sponsor, Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco.

The resolution was also backed by Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

It said that Clinton:
"Uh, you do remember?"

  • Engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate employee in the White House, which was shameful, reckless, and indefensible...

  • Deliberately misled and deceived the American people, and people in all branches of the United States government...

  • Gave false or misleading testimony and his actions have had the effect of impeding discovery of evidence in judicial proceedings ...

  • Demean(s) the office of the president... and creates disrespect for the laws of the land...

  • Brought shame and dishonor to himself and the office of the presidency... Violated the trust of the American people... and that future generations of Americans must know that such behavior is not only unacceptable but also bears grave consequences, including loss of integrity, trust and respect...
(After the acquittal, Feinstein failed to get enough senators willing to bring any of her several censure resolutions to a floor vote. In the end, 38 senators signed a statement in February that censured Clinton's "shameful, reckless and indefensible" behavior in his sexual affair with intern Monica Lewinsky. It was entered in the Congressional Record.)

Thanks to Sen. Feinstein and her liberal Democratic colleagues, the historic record will forever contain hard documentation that the president's dealings with regard to this sordid matter did not make his solid achievements "all the more impressive" but rather made his arrogant and self-destructive behavior all the more tragic.

JWR contributor Chris Matthews is the author of Hardball. and hosts a CNBC show of the same name. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


11/15/99: Next president: Male, WASP, self-selected
11/10/99: Backroom Bill
11/08/99: Please don't feed the 'pander bears'
11/03/99: Battle of the Bubba clones
11/01/99: Pat Buchanan, kamikaze candidate
10/27/99: The year of the woman... voter
10/25/99: The Curse of the Bubba
10/21/99: GOP gives Clinton his finest hour
10/18/99: Clinton's last hurrah
10/13/99: Rough seas for Capt. Ventura
10/11/99: Gore targets Bradley's strength
10/06/99: Bradley's got the right Rx
10/04/99: Buchanan, Churchill and Hitler
09/30/99: Who'll spin political gold in Golden State Gore or Bradley?
09/27/99: Here's a millennial checklist for candidates
09/22/99: The biography battle
09/20/99: Buchanan's new book is a must-read
09/15/99: Don't rule out Beatty
09/13/99: The man with the sun on his face
09/08/99: W. vs. Jr. on dope and the draft
The FALN: Hillary's Willie Horton
08/26/99: Bill's guilt fuels Hill's race
08/25/99: The seemingly inexhaustible strength of America's free enterprise
08/23/99: GOP candidates are weak also-rans
08/16/99: Bubba on Bubba
08/11/99: Hillary's agonizing attempts to understand
08/09/99: With warm regards, Richard Nixon
08/04/99: Weicker: real third party is on the Left
08/02/99: Dubyah's last hangover
07/27/99: Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh; capitalism is gonna win

©1999, NEA