The point is that the sector of the public, hopefully a minority, that grabs onto and lives for the tabloids, makes enough of an audience to continue premier coverage. I suspect there essentially are three outraged personality types out there in Congress, and this minority group of self-righteous Americans. The morally indignant: "How dare the man practice sex;" the skeleton in the closet: "How dare he get caught;" And, the jealous: "How dare he do that while the rest of us suffer fidelity, potbellies and bald heads."
This century's old purient attitude toward sex on the part of Americans, the government and our legal institutions has progressed out of the Dark Ages but not enough to prevent surreptitious scandal, totally transparent smoke screens (puffs) and a powerful tool to corrupt our courts, not to mention the minds of many, including some children. The truth of things is not what has been presented to us.
Pursuits by Ken Starr in Whitewater and other criminal endeavors failed to implicate the president. This following the well-financed and relentless slur campaign surrounding Bill Clinton since just prior to his first election. Remember every late-night talk show after the first election? Remember Falwell's statement that "we" will see to it that the man is discredited enough to eliminate his chances of a second term? Well, Starr knew or sensed that when the reality of wrongdoing became another puff, sexual scandal would carry the game.
Reality No. 1: Our country was created to separate church and state. Religion promoted by the state constitutes a selective morality that damages and destroys the liberty of individuals who do not perform under that morality. If anyone doubts that actions by Congress are anything but an attempt to misuse the country's religious sense, let them consider that congressmen and senators, during this debacle, have justified various decisions to keep this all going by stating that we are walking on the "sacred" ground of the Constitution.
On to smoke screens. Smoke screens, or as they're dissolving, puffs, seek to cover the deficiencies, through lies, of our institutions.
Take the law. The law has generally progressed to the point that private sexual experience is inadmissible as evidence in cases such as rape where the prosecution attempts to use that experience to sway a judge or jury
There are indeed protections from self incrimination and invasion of privacy even on the witness stand. The system, in Washington at least, has not been jerry-rigged to present a private extramarital affair and attempts to protect privacy as a crime.
Look at the government. Recently, a senator praised Clinton's state of the union address this way: "You have to admire the speech, it was a great speech, a pertinent speech. But having the public behind you and talking in front of them is one thing; we have to wait and see what happens where it really counts -- behind closed doors."
This reality -- true politics is special interest maneuvering behind closed doors -- is perceived as normal, but it is an astounding statement in its implications: The majority opinion is not the cause of action. What is promised to the public, even when bipartisan, does not direct political outcomes.
Reality No. 2. The smoke screens covering our governmental deficiencies and all of those supporting the screens, cause the damage occurring to our country.
First, if there is no due process to protect those being perceived as, or now made into, the guilty ones, then no one is safe, even the truly innocent. Chelsea Clinton has not suffered on and on because of what her father did but rather because of the political use and relentless public exposure of, and media moneymaking off of, what he did. As long as it is profitable, this use and exposure will go on and on.
Second, while lying about adhering to the principles that our country was founded on, we perpetuate a broken system, already not getting things done. We argue about what to do with a budget surplus while still being a debtor nation. We worry about the destruction of the environment while failing to join and support worldwide treaties to save it. We fail to develop effective rules and regulations to deal with the exploding world population, most of which will hope to immigrate to the least crowded areas and will do so with or without permission. We build new stadiums in several years and fail for decades to fix public school buildings.
The Supreme Court makes rulings that clearly are political, the chief executive is rendered less effective in foreign policy by congressional perpetuated scandal, Congress goes home, we leave the poor in destitution and, instead of acting on foresight, leave the future of the economy to big business that bases its decisions on short-term profit. We allow a former president who himself allowed a secret government setup within our government to pursue illegal arms sales (isn't that a crime like treason?) to remain popular and unpunished while endlessly punishing our current president for "letting an intern play with his wee wee." The economy goes up and down and has now been up for a while. What about the structure, as relates to the globe, underneath?
The impeachment of President Clinton is not really about Clinton, morality, law or sex. In a system where responsibility is disintegrated to a perpetual passing of the buck, where decisions representing the good of the country and the world can't even be made, there always is a play for power. The current impeachment is about weakening the presidential office to give Congress that power.
This trend, to whatever degree intentional or not, began with the assassination of JFK. The subsequent disillusion over politics prevented a generation of brilliant youth from considering politics an honorable endeavor. Watergate again did the same. Iran Contra was anticlimactic because the disillusion by this time had become standard. If we consider that Congress failed to address a much more heinous crime (illegal arms sales) for purely political reasons (the popularity of the nice old guy who had a habit of falling asleep at lunch meetings and clearly could not be intentionally running a secret government) the backlash against Clinton makes sense, even if the crime doesn't.
This agenda, to empower Congress with new anti-executive abilities, if it succeeds for any time, might improve Congress' ability to run the country. But this agenda is lacking public debate as we instead debate the character of a single man.
If we want a more powerful Congress, we should decide, plan and implement this openly.
Reality No. 3: Those who have perpetuated scandal have perpetuated damage to our liberty, to the intelligence of our system and to our nation's strength. We now have a clear majority against this, but that majority has remained powerless. Until the next election.
Reality No. 4: Vote them out. Every single lying fool that helped bring us to this. Vote them all out.