CLINTON AND THE
DEGRADATION OF AMERICA

By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

President Clinton's order to bomb Iraq on the very day the House of Representatives was to vote on his impeachment inevitably aroused skepticism regarding his motives, and not only by House Republicans but by politicians abroad. One member of the British House of Commons called Clinton a "liar" to bolster an otherwise flimsy argument against the attack on Iraq.

Around the world placards appeared with caricatures of Clinton and Monica Lewinski. The bombing of Iraq was portrayed as a desperate effort on Clinton's part to derail the impeachment proceedings. The President of the United States was thereby accused of using his National Security Council, of endangering the lives of American servicemen, of wreaking death and destruction on Iraq for purely personal reasons!

Mr. Clinton's flawed character aside, this accusation is irrational and scurrilous. There is no reason to doubt the integrity and patriotism of the members of his National Security Council. Nevertheless, even if it be true, as Clinton explained, that the attack on Iraq had to follow immediately after the withdrawal of UNSCOM, lest Saddam further develop and deploy weapons of mass destruction, the mere fact that the President's timing could be characterized as a "wag the dog" scenario means that the United States has lost international credibility. The consequences for world peace are incalculable. This is reason enough for Clinton to resign. That he has not is indicative of shamelessness unequaled in the annals of American politics.

The issue, therefore, is not simply a moral one, whatever one may say of Mr. Clinton's extra­marital affairs. Nor is it simply a legal or constitutional issue, whatever be said of the House's impeachment of Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice. Mr. Clinton is the President of the United States, the one nation that has twice in this century saved mankind from barbarism and tyranny. Hence the American presidency, the most powerful office in the world, must command not only the abiding confidence of mankind, but the fearful respect of mankind's enemies.

This is not a partisan issue, and it is irresponsible for Democrats to portray Clinton's impeachment as a Republican attempt "to undo the results of the 1996 election." No decent and honest person can deny that Mr. Clinton has sullied his office, has made his word and his deeds suspect to an extent unprecedented in American history, and at a time when the freedom and well­being of many nations depend on the leadership of the United States.

That a large majority of the American people have nonetheless supported Clinton throughout his personal predicament may be attributed to two basic factors. First, most people like a charming rogue so long as they are enjoying economic prosperity. (Few realize that this prosperity is largely the fruit of Republican Party programs Clinton adopted to outflank Robert Dole in the 1996 presidential election, which Clinton won by less than a majority of the popular vote.)

Second, the media, especially the ubiquitous CNN, have a left­liberal and therefore pro­Clinton bias. CNN provides or interviews legal and other "experts" who have pooh­poohed Lewinsky affair as a purely personal matter having no consequences for the conduct of the presidential office ­­ as if Clinton's perjury and use of the White House staff to conceal his misdeeds were of no public significance.

The same pundits portrayed retired Judge Kenneth Starr's investigation as "unfair" or as a "crusade to get the President." Again and again they called attention to the forty million dollars spent by the Independent Counsel in the drawn out investigation of the President, ignoring the fact that Clinton had repeatedly obstructed the investigation, had tampered with witnesses, and had used his staff to dig up dirt about women who might otherwise have incriminated him. Also, the media repeatedly referred to the 1998 midterm elections, when the Democrats gained six seats in the House of Representatives, as vote of confidence for Clinton. Remarkable disinformation, since only 36% of the electorate voted in that election, the lowest turnout since 1942! I point this out because the Democratic Party would substitute media­manipulated public opinion for the rule of law. Here we touch the most important issue.

AT STAKE IN CLINTON'S IMPEACHMENT IS THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA.

When one speaks of the rule of men versus the rule of law, make no mistake, THE RULE OF MEN TODAY MEANS THE RULE OF THE MEDIA. Those who control the media are accountable to no one. Their increasing power to shape public opinion and thereby determine who shall rule is the greatest challenge to representative democracy.

Supported by the media, Bill Clinton will not resign. He will not step down and save the nation the ordeal and humiliation of an impeachment trial in the Senate. And since it will be very difficult to muster the two­third vote required for his conviction, Clinton will continue in office. His "acquittal" will make a mockery of equal justice under law, will undermine respect for truth, will augment the power of the media, hence will damage the foundations of the American polity.


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