Topic: White Water

Across the abyss(Editorial.....And a Great One!)

The Waterbury(CT) Republican-American

Just before Bill Clinton was impeached, Minority Leader Dick Gephardt stood in the well of the House and pleaded to "end this downward spiral that will end with the death of our representative democracy."

His hyperbole aside for the moment, Rep. Gephardt went on to extol the virtues of a virtueless system, pleading for the nation to "turn away from the politics of personal destruction and return to the politics of values." The key word here is return.

What he really wants is to return to the days when reporters looked away when politicians were caught with their hands out or their pants down; when the Ted Kennedys and Christopher Dodds could close D.C. bars and nary a word about their escapades before last call ever made it into print; when women would steal into the White House to service John Kennedy and reporters would look the other way; when lying was just the way the game was played.

Rep. Gephardt implored Rep. Robert Livingston, R-La., to reconsider his decision to quit the House over his frequent marital infidelity because resigning amounts to "a terrible capitulation to the negative forces that are consuming our political system and our country."

Certainly, the Bill and Monica spectacle is not what America wanted. It has forced embarrassing admissions from other congressmen and has many more thinking about how to continue to conceal their past illicit behavior. But like it or not, this is today's political culture, surely as much a part of Mr. Clinton's presidential legacy as his lies, corruption and impeachment.

Our Clintonian democracy has evolved to where a liberal actor is exalted for advocating stoning to death a congressman he ideologically opposes and a pornographer blackmails Rep. Livingston into admitting his adultery as a way of validating the president's predatory ways and denouncing — as overstated by Rep. Gephardt — the "vicious self-righteousness" of "unattainable morality."

In his pre-impeachment diatribe, Rep. Gephardt said something most curious (House Democrats and later the president, first lady and vice president cheered him for this): "No one standing in this House today can pass the Puritanical test of purity that some are demanding that our elected leaders take. If we demand that mere mortals live up to this standard, we will see our seats of government lay empty, and we will see the best, most able people unfairly cast out of public service."

Again he exaggerates, but the thrust of his argument is that this is a bad thing, that it is wrong to expect our congressional representatives, ambassadors, presidents, cabinet members and the like to live up to the same standards that apply to the rest of us. And it is worse to want them to maintain slightly more lofty standards befitting the offices they hold. God forbid we demand that the chief law-enforcer live up to the laws of the land and that Congress remove him if he doesn't.

President Clinton brought this culture to the nation, and as much as he, Rep. Gephardt and everyone else in Washington want to return to the good ol' days, it's not going to happen. The genie is out of the bottle. Salon and Hustler magazines and the nightly shout-a-thons on cable television aren't about to put it back, and the scandal-obsessed public won't allow it, their protests to the contrary notwithstanding.

And the "politics of personal destruction" — you'll be sick of that phrase soon enough — that everyone so loathes but the White House nurtures so lovingly will only intensify as the Senate trial nears. No matter what the verdict, our Clintonian democracy and especially the attack media it spawned will survive. Americans desire more civility, but that won't come until fundamental changes in the political system now under way evolve to their logical conclusion.

And what is that logical conclusion? In the 2000 election, some pundits expect that Republicans will pay dearly for upholding the rule of law. Probably, but another scenario is equally plausible.

Even before Election Day 2000, a number of lawmakers distraught over having to live up to a more rigidly enforced code of conduct begin to slink out of town under the cover of darkness or under the intense glare of the lights of TV cameras.

Ethically challenged politicians back home, fearing their misdeeds will be exposed, refuse to run for Congress. Instead, upright people — as qualified as any in Congress today — will fill the ballot void. And after the media fling open every closet door in the search for skeletons to hang in the public square, voters will flock to the candidates who stand for genuine traditional American values.

Over time, the congressional majority will be the people who adhere to standards that today's politicians hypocritically espouse, but complain no one can live up to. But consider the possibilities when the government is run by people of character and courage.

Rep. Gephardt is right to say we are "on the brink of the abyss. ... Let us step back from the abyss and let's begin a new politics of respect and fairness and decency which raises what has come before." Clearly, he's going in the wrong direction.

Just as Mr. Clinton has his way, Rep. Gephardt and the most of the rest of the politicians in Washington want to return to their anything-goes habits. They don't see the signpost to their political utopia points forward — across the abyss — not backward.

We have been this way before. Twenty-four years ago, America stood at the edge of this abyss and called it Watergate. Instead of retreating, the nation went forward. It wasn't easy, but the country survived and grew stronger. The founders gave us a Constitution to help us through times of trouble. For more than 200 years, it has not failed us. It got us through Watergate; it will see us through Monicagate.

And don't forget: six years after President Nixon resigned in disgrace, voters elected a president whose vision of America is one we share today: "that shining city on the hill."

Today, that city — built on the bedrock of ethics, morality and the rule of law — lies across the abyss. From across the abyss, it beckons us forward — forward on impeachment, forward on ethics, forward on principle, forward toward a better nation governed by laws and by quality people unafraid of standards.

I REALLY like this editorial.

Posted by: RR (impeachthecreep@hotmail.com) *
12/27/98 06:23:29 PST

To: RR
This really is a great editorial. Thanks.

One of the best things that went down last Sunday was the gentleman who stated simply to Billy outside the church service ''......damn you for what you have done to this country...'' How I would love to shake that man's hand and thank him for having the guts to tell Bill to his face what so many of us are thinking.

It ain't that this sorry excuse for a leader is a democrat; it IS that this creep has trashed our nation and mocked our system of justice. I am ashamed of each and every senator that is prejudging the articles of impeachment. Reps and Dems alike.
From: republic (theDemsAreAfraidOfBillHill@PennAveTrashRuin.now) *
12/27/98 06:36:00 PST

To: RR
That is a good one.
From: Boyd () *
12/27/98 06:37:24 PST

To: RR
From: MeneMeneTekelUpharsin (handonthewall@babylon.org) *
12/27/98 06:40:29 PST