Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Rehabilitation of Clinton

The rightwing pundits who made names for themselves self-righteously calling for Clinton's impeachment are going to have to twist themselves into salty pretzels, jump through fiery hoops, and dunk themselves in nacho cheese sauce to get out of calling for Bush's impeachment.

It's begun already with the rehabilitation of Clinton.

My argument about why Clinton's offense wasn't impeachable was that it was not an offense that only the President could commit. It wasn't an abuse of his unique power as the President, it didn't materially harm the nation, it wasn't an affront to the Constitution.

The argument for impeachment was that the President lied under oath, tried to suborn perjury, and generally acted sleazy, which demeaned the office of President, and betrayed our trust that the President would never, ever lie to us. It was mainly a "think of the children" argument, but I don't think anyone ever argued that it harmed the security of our nation.

Well, Judge Napolitano, who has thankfully hung up his robes -- since he's already hung up his judgment -- to be a Fox News commentator, says impeachment should only be used against presidents who harm the security of the nation, whatever he thinks that means.

He's changed his tune on Clinton. Whereas once he thought Clinton had "committed a federal felony by lying under oath," he's not so sure anymore.
No. neither of those things, in retrospect, appears to affect the security of the republic. They were both wrong. Clinton's was probably criminal, Bush's may be criminal. I don't think either of them rises to an impeachable offense, like treason or bribery, which is what the Constitution says.

Oh, Clinton's not so bad anymore. Really, what harm did he do?

I don't know where Napolitano gets the idea that an impeachable offense has to affect the security of the nation, though. Bribery isn't necessarily a threat to the security of the nation, but it is a misuse of office at any level. What if the president bribes a journalist to, say, write favorably about an important public policy matter? That is arguably not a threat to national security, and yet it is bribery. But whatever.

I just can't wait to see the tapdancing all the other pundits will be doing in the coming weeks and months. If they previously believed what Clinton did was impeachable, then it must follow that Bush should be impeached.

I think one of the major themes will be "impeachment fatigue." "Sure, what Bush did might warrant impeachment, but I just don't think the American people have the stomach to go through that ordeal again." I think I might actually buy Ann Coulter's next book, "Tiring America: The Liberal Plot to Help the Terrorists Infiltrate a Napping Country."

Remember to bide your time, liberals. It may take a couple of years, so don't get discouraged.

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