Impeachment and Consequences

This is an email I sent to friends on December 15, 1998
Be it Resolved: If (Big If) the President is impeached and removed from office, Republicans will suffer no adverse political consequences (other than installing a left-wing zealot in the White House in place of the spineless spouse of a left-wing zealot). Why, you ask? Here’s why. Just think — what, literally, is Bill Clinton’s theme song? “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow . . . yesterday’s gone.” Clinton has survived his many scandals and at least as many flip-flops and broken promises by accusing his opponents of living in the past, of dwelling on old grudges rather than looking to the Bridge To The Twenty-First Century, of being the party of scandal rather than the Man From Hope. What he said yesterday is old news, and it’s nothing but mudslinging to compare it to what he is saying today. Live for the moment! Feel your pain! Ideas have a past and a future, but feelings are fleeting, and Bill Clinton operates strictly on feelings. Clinton is truly Orwellian in his commitment to erasing the inconvenient past, always remaining the ahistorical man. In many ways the American public has expressed an unwillingness to face impeachment and removal because the people are driven by fear of the future — concern that the economy is doing just fine and who wants to upset the applecart? And Clinton has few real friends in politics, only people who ally with him out of expediency, as he does with them (think how he abandons allies in trouble so often, leaving them to their own devices. Where was he, anyway, for Mike Espy? Henry Cisneros, who’s being prosecuted for lies about an extramarital affair? Not to mention his personal associates. He was certainly ready to hang Lewinsky out to dry before she opened her laundry basket). Most of his supposedly loyal aids have left the White House; he has not inspired a committed core of true believers because, after all, what would they then believe in? Clinton’s power and popularity thus derive entirely from three things: his grip on power, fear of change, and his appeals to the emotions of the moment. If he leaves office, all these will be gone. Like the leaders of totalitarian mass movements, once he loses both power and the bully pulpit he needs to keep rewriting history in his favor, his following will evaporate, leaving no trace. Why fear impeachment and removal when they are ancient history? What Democratic congressional candidate will want to run ads about Monica Lewinsky two years from now? Who will want to hear it? People will care about whether they want Bush or Gore in the White House, not whether they liked that Clinton fella when he was in office. He’s old news.