The recent revelations of Bill Clinton's brutal behavior towards an Arkansas woman, now published in print and broadcast on television, combined with all the other Clinton squalor leave an incomparable legacy. Time will reveal the full significance of his impeachment and acquittal (the subject of our symposium that begins on page 42 of this issue). But it is already clear to me that history will see Clinton as a Falstaff, though without the charm and with a hint of evil. As for now, the forty-second president is a corpse stinking in the sunlight. More and more Americans are noticing the stench.
The Democrats thought that they could bring the corpse back to life by scotching his impeachment in the House or acquitting him in the bogus Senate trial. Unfortunately for them, the evidence of his moral turpitude accumulating since the late 196o's could not be repressed or-as the phrase has it-spun. Each revelation since Clinton's improbable 1992 election revealed his unfitness for the presidency.
From Colonel Eugene Holmes's documents revealing the 1992 Democratic candidate as a draft dodger and from Gennifer Flowers's tape revealing him as a liar, to the 1993 Troopergate revelations of his abuse of power and sexual recklessness, to Paula Corbin Jones's testimony, to Monica's testimony, and now to the reports of rape, the Democrats' defense of him becomes ever more futile. That they continued it even when a simple vote for conviction would lead to his replacement by their vice president reveals how desperate they are for power. The Democratic Party is not devoted to any of its widely publicized high principles or noble oaths. It is devoted to power. It feared that any accommodation to Clinton's critics would cost it the presidency in 2000. Now the Democrats will have to defend their fight for Clinton.
They will have to explain their repeat ed denunciations of him after the exposure of his affair with an intern and the exposure of his lies. In some cases they called for his resignation or impeachment. Yet they voted to acquit the man they publicly abominated. They will have to explain the unparalleled irregularities of the 1996 campaign. And then they will have to conjure with the reports of technology transfers by their administration. Soon the whole nation will recognize that this administration put our national security at risk for campaign contributions. The Democratic Party had better hope that journalists and historians take the next few years off.
As some honorable Democrats have noted, protecting Bill Clinton has caused the Democratic Party to turn its back on most of its claims to virtue. Clinton's bombing of Arab aspirin factories brings to mind satires of presidential abuse of power such as Wag the Dog, and such presidential deceits as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution during the Johnson administration. In domestic policy the Democrats have turned their backs on sexual harassment law in the workplace. During the Clinton administration civil liberties have been abused and the free press harassed. The Justice Department has been politicized to an extent not known since the Nixon administration's Justice Department inspired the need for an independent counsel law. …