Updated 09/14/98 7:45PM
Gingrich: Not Censorious
Is censure a serious option? Not according to Newt Gingrich, who's
privately saying he won't schedule a vote on a censure resolution. He'll
find support in the next issue of NR from Rick Brookhiser, who reminds
us of what happened when Congress censured Andrew Jackson: "The Age of
Jackson by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (1946), still the standard work on the
period, devotes two sentences, out of 545 pages, to the Senate's rebuke.
In 1836, Martin Van Buren, Jackson's vice president and heir apparent,
won a comfortable victory to succeed him, and the Senate, now in
Democratic hands, expunged the resolution from its records." Brookhiser
adds, "Censure is a non-punishment appropriate to President Clinton's
non-repentance, and to the non-forgiveness he seeks from us."
Gingrich is said to want to call Congress back in session right after
the elections and to move to an impeachment vote by Thanksgiving--which
suggests that he is not following a partisan drag-this-out strategy.
That doesn't mean, by the way, that the Senate would have to try Clinton
before new members are seated. There is a lot of confusion on this
point. Tim Russert said in August on "Meet the Press" that if the report
came this fall, "There would have to be a special session of Congress to
deal with this, because you can't carry over this investigation to a new
Congress." The latest U.S. News and World Report says, "If the House
starts the impeachment process before this session of Congress ends, it
is unclear whether it will have to start over in the next session."
Actually, it's not unclear at all. Deschler's Precedents says that the
House impeachment and Senate trial do not have to be in the same
Congress. "Both Judge John Pickering and Judge Harold Louderback were
impeached by the House in one Congress and tried by the Senate in the
next." Next question?
Video Killed the Newspaper Star
A partisan fight is shaping up over whether Clinton's testimony should
be released as a transcript or on videotape, with some Democrats
charging that the latter would be "piling on" with an intent to
embarrass. To accede to their demand would be to shift the goalposts:
until now, everyone has been saying that they will release any
information that doesn't hurt innocent parties. So why not go for the
more complete disclosure? As the public weighs these issues, why
shouldn't they weigh the demeanor of the President before the grand
Republican Wimp-Out Watch
After sitting out the early reaction to the Starr report (see "Profiles
in Courage," 9/14), the RNC finally had a comment today. Jim Nicholson
blasted DNC chairman Steve Grossman's encomium yesterday to President
Clinton's "moral leadership." For other Republicans, though, silence
might have been an improvement. Matt Fong, candidate for Senate from
California, told a group of reporters, "We've only heard one side of the
story," evidently unaware that he is repeating the Democratic spin. Jeb
Bush, however, surely knows better than to say, as Hotline reports he
did on MSNBC this morning, "I haven't read it and I don't intend to read
it. . . . I don't think it should have been on the internet for
everybody to see. Why do we have to let every child in America go
through all the gory details of phone sex and all these other things?
Let's move on to letting the process work and let's talk about things
that are important to people." At least we now know whether law-breaking
by the Commander-in-Chief is important to Jeb Bush.
Lowering the Bar
President Clinton repeatedly violated his oath of professional
responsibility and ethics and should be disbarred, argued the
Southeastern Legal Foundation on Tuesday in a formal complaint with the
State Bar of Arkansas. Clinton is currently a Bar
"When a lawyer who is an elected official violates his professional
oath, lies before a court of law, and undermines public confidence in
the rule of law, that lawyer should be punished," said SLF's Matthew J.
Glavin, who made headlines recently for a successful lawsuit against the
Clinton administration's census sampling scheme.
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