Senate Must Do Its Duty

by Patrick J. Buchanan – December 21, 1998

As H.M.S. Victory cleared its decks for action at Trafalgar, Nelson directed his flag messenger to signal to the fleet: “England expects that every man will do his duty.” And so they did.

And so, too, did those House Republicans who bravely defied our political, academic, media and cultural elites to impeach William Jefferson Clinton. The Senate should now show the same kidney.

Any deal to abort a trial, any back-room compromise “censure” of Clinton to relieve senators of their constitutional duty to prosecute him for the high crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice, would be craven. For it is clear from the conduct of the House Democrats that censure is a fraud and a political fix.

If House Democrats were not deceiving us in declaring themselves so disgusted with Clinton’s conduct that they wanted a “vote of conscience” to censure him, what were they doing in the Rose Garden after the impeachment vote, cheering Clinton like groupies? If they truly believed he should be censured, why did the House Democrats never introduce a vote to censure him inside their own caucus?

Watch what we do, not what we say, said old John Mitchell.

As for the other reasons being advanced for aborting a Senate trial, they reek of self-interest masquerading as civic concern.

“It will tear America apart!” we are warned. What rot. Does anyone believe that a nation that survived a 10-year depression, a world war that killed 400,000 men and a 40-year Cold War cannot handle a solemn two-month Senate trial?

It must be ended now because the House impeachment was so savagely “partisan,” we are told. Indeed it was. Just as 100 percent of the Democrats on House Judiciary voted to impeach Richard Nixon, 100 percent of the Democrats on House Judiciary voted not to impeach Clinton. On the House floor, 98 percent of all Democrats voted to absolve Clinton on every single count, behaving like the apparatchiks of a Communist Party Congress.

The Senate and Supreme Court will be paralyzed by a trial, we are told. But this is absurd. January and February are the dog days in Congress. Members arrive, get sworn in and, in weeks, are off junketing on their Lincoln Day recess. And exactly what business does the Senate or chief justice have that is more important than deciding whether to remove a president of the United States?

Clinton endlessly chatters about personal accountability. Well, a Senate trial, where each senator votes his conscience on this president’s conduct, would be a most salutary lesson for America’s young in personal accountability by our nation’s highest officials.

To moot this impeachment by voting censure, in exchange for some faked apology or a negotiated confession by Clinton that he lied under oath, would be a corrupt bargain that would diminish this republic. Let the Senate convict or acquit. Let us find out how many Democratic senators believe that a president who belongs to their party has the right to commit perjury before a federal grand jury impaneled to investigate his role in a criminal conspiracy.

Faced with the manly example of Bob Livingston’s resignation, Bill Clinton ducked demands for his own resignation to piously call for an end to the “politics of personal destruction.”

What an amazing leader we elected.

Can this be the same Bill Clinton whose boys did the “trailer park trash” number on Paula Jones? Can it be the same man who, says Dick Morris, created a White House secret police to threaten women who testify against him?

Can this be the same president whose agents adopted a “scorched earth” campaign to smear pro-impeachment Republicans, whose lawyers sent out private eyes to dig dirt on Ken Starr, who sent Dark Angel Sidney Blumenthal to slander Monica as a crazed “stalker” — to eviscerate her credibility as an insurance policy should she testify against him?

Just who introduced poison-gas politics to this city?

The country wants this over with, we are told, and Republicans defy the American people by pursuing it. Clinton’s auxiliaries have the polls to prove it. But by the polls, America wants partial birth abortion outlawed, immigration curtailed and school prayer restored. Does the White House follow the polls on these issues?

By one survey, 58 percent felt Bill Clinton should resign if the House voted to impeach. What would happen to the White House aide who dropped that poll into the “in” box of Boomero Uno?

The U.S. Senate, like the House, should do its duty. Forget the polls, forget the press, forget the pundits. Convict, or acquit, and let’s get it over with and get on with America’s business.