The Pact: Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the Rivalry That Defined a Generation

By Steven M. Gillon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIXTEEN The End of Reform

SHORTLY AFTER 9:00 AM on Friday, December 18, Illinois Republican Ray LaHood gaveled the House Chamber to order. Gingrich did not want his last act as Speaker to be presiding over the impeachment of a president, and Speaker-designate Robert Livingston did not want it to be his first act, so they selected LaHood for the task. The chaplain opened the session with a brief prayer: “Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” The proceedings were pushed back by a day following the president’s announcement that he was ordering a military strike on Iraq for violating its agreement on arms inspections. The military maneuvers only added to the tension in the hall. Republicans were convinced that Clinton had ordered the strike to distract attention from the impeachment proceedings; Democrats were angry that Republicans would attempt to undermine the authority of the commander in chief while American troops were still in harm’s way. While most Republican leaders questioned the timing of the attack, Gingrich supported the president’s decision. “We have a chance today to say to the world: no matter what our constitutional process, whether it is an election eve or it is the eve of a constitutional vote, no matter what our debates at home, we are, as a nation, prepared to lead the world.”1

At 9:50 AM Henry Hyde stood at a lectern and began making the Republican case for impeachment. “The question before this House is rather simple,” he said. “It is not a question of sex. Sexual misconduct and adultery are private acts and are none of Congress’s business. It is not even a question of lying about sex. The matter before the House is a question of lying under

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