September 24, 2006

"I'd like to go back and do the impeachment again."

Says Henry Hyde, who prosecuted Clinton and has had time to reflect on what went wrong:
"I was soft on the treatment we received from the Senate. We couldn't produce a witness without their permission. I should have had the president come in and testify. And if the Senate wouldn't let me, I should have gone before the body and Chief Justice Rehnquist and made a motion. That would have dramatized that the Senate was not letting us try our case. A lot of things could have been done differently."
Oh, yes. It's a shame no one gets much practice at this, isn't it?

17 comments:

tjl said...

It's amazing to see Hyde waxing nostalgic about impeachment when everyone can clearly see that its aftermath has been disastrous. Eight years of hyper-toxic partisanship; moderates in both parties purged or marginalized; huge domestic problems like social security or immigration left untouched because of scorched-earth political infighting -- all this can be traced back to the impeachment battle.

And for what? Clinton's impeachment would have given us President Gore, a shoo-in for reelection in 2000.

John(classic) said...

It depends on whether you regard impeachment as a political act, whose merit is to be judged on political benefits and losses, or a juridical act with justice the important goal.

Gerry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Zrimsek said...

He's retiring, Gerry. And not a moment too soon, from the looks of things.

Gerry said...

I needed to finish my coffee before posting that last one. Confused Hastert with Hyde in my early morning fog. Mea culpa.

paul a'barge said...

"It's a shame no one gets much practice"... I'd have reminded Hyde that what he needed wasn't so much practice as that he needed to grow a pair.

"its aftermath has been disastrous. Eight years of hyper-toxic partisanship..." People who say this slept through the first 200 years of American politics, and certainly through the 8 years of Reagan, during which the DHIMMIcRATs couldn't throw doo-doo hard enough at the greatest American president. This is simply historical revision, and its odor hasn't changed. You may not like it, but Clinton was the first president to lie to a grand jury, and he deserved much more than he got.

gj said...

Given all of the historionics about Clinton's failure to address terrorism more fully, it's amazing to see this Republican wishing they'd done even more to distrtract him from attending to his duties.

John(classic): impeachment proceedings ultimately involve a judgement call about whether the alleged shortcomings are worthy of the very disruptive remedy. In the 1990's, the Republican's thought that they were. On the legal side they asserted that Clinton's lies about his personal life amounted to high crimes. On the policy side, they didn't think that distracting him from the business of governing would cause serious problems.

Henry Hyde is still sticking with that assessment, apparently. But then, Republicans have not recently put much emphasis on the value of running the government with competence and attention, so perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that he still feels this way.

Seven Machos said...

When I first saw the headline, I assumed Hyde would say that, in retrospect, the impeachment was a waste of time and we all should have been focused on far more important priorities.

Whether he believes it or not, that would have been the thing to say.

Hamsun56 said...

Hyde and like-minded Republicans managed to actually to create sympathy for Clinton. Clinton should have resigned because he directly lied to the American people, but he didn't commit perjury.

To some extent, I feel that Hyde, Livingstone and other Repblicans were trying to compensate for their sins by pursecuting Clinton.

Theo Boehm said...

tjl is dead on.

I would say to paul a'barge, of course American politics have been partisan and often hyper-toxic.

But impeachment of a President is an extremely serious matter, or at least it should be. Andrew Johnson's impeachment inoculated American politics against THAT particular form of toxicity for over 100 years.

But things have changed in the aftermath of Nixon. Now impeachment has become just another political tool. A charming piece of the Nixon legacy.

So Republicans impeached Clinton for matters that simplly didn't rise to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors." Not even close. Henry Hyde should be ashamed of himself.

I don't buy too much of the "distraction" theory, however. Clinton's indiscipline was his main distraction. And Clinton's troubles were very much of his own making. He rightly should have been excoriated in the press and called to account legally for his actions, but impeached? Never.

Do you have any doubt that when the Democrats take control of the House in November that they will impeach George Bush? As a potential Democratic voter, this prospect fills me with dread. I'm going to let my Democratic Congressman know that, as tempting a thing as it might be, another Presidential impeachment is the LAST thing we need.

Fenrisulven said...

On the legal side they asserted that Clinton's lies about his personal life amounted to high crimes.

Perjury [in a sexual harassment/discrimination suit] was listed along sidew Bribery as a high crime.

On the policy side, they didn't think that distracting him from the business of governing would cause serious problems.

Uh-huh. And I guess we should have dropped the whole Nixon thing because of Viet Nam. Only the Left would insist that the responsibilies of POTUS place him above the law. Complete lack of accountablity - its Starr's fault for pursing charges of perjury and obstruction, not Clinton's for commiting those acts.

Thats why you lost Congress so many years ago. Keep it up.

Fenrisulven said...

So Republicans impeached Clinton for matters that simplly didn't rise to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors." Not even close. Henry Hyde should be ashamed of himself.

Again, its arguable that Perjury does/does not rise to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors". It was placed alonng side Bribery as a high crime in the early drafts, reduced to misdemeanors latter. But to state that its "not even close" is dishonest spin.

Theo Boehm said...

Fen, I take your point, and withdraw "not even close." I'm the last person who would want to spin for Bill Clinton.

But I still think his crimes and misdemeanors did not warrant impeachment. Serious embarassment, all kinds of other legal troubles? Yes. Impeachment? No. That was a terrible precedent.

BTW, I notice I used the word "thing" once too often in the last paragraph of my previous post. (Trying to improve my style and getting a little vain about it)

tjl said...

"Do you have any doubt that when the Democrats take control of the House in November that they will impeach George Bush?"

I agree with Theo. The Clinton impeachment so lowered the bar that now any policy that a majority of Congress disagrees with becomes an impeachable offense. Our government will once again be paralyzed by a partisan demolition derby while Iran, North Korea, al Qaeda, and Hezbollah seize this golden opportunity to wreak havoc.

Simon said...

Hamsun56 said...
"Clinton should have resigned because he directly lied to the American people, but he didn't commit perjury."

"Whoever ... having taken an oath ... that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true ... is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both." 18 U.S.C. §1621. Did Clinton not, under oath, declare that he did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky? Was it not later determined that he did, in fact, have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky? And given that he did say what he said, under oath, and that is was a lie, what is the basis for your assertion that he didn't commit perjury?

I'd also add that I think the only meaninful understanding of high crimes and misdemeanors is when seen in contradistinction to petty crimes and misdemeanors. The President cannot be impeached for getting a parking ticket, but I would think that a President that undertakes any action defined as a crime in Title 18 puts himself at risk of impeachment.

Mark said...

My take on the impeachment is that conservatives were outraged that a President could disgrace the office like Clinton did, dallying with an intern (especially after promising that he had changed his ways in that respect), and then emphatically and bald-facedly lying about it for seven months, and not resign. Conservatives have a genuine belief in things like traditional decorum, dignity, and so on that liberals just don't share. Liberals, generally, are more likely to feel that extra-marital affairs are no big deal - everyone does it, they say. Sure it was bad judgment, but hey, it was "just sex", right? Well I think that infuriated conservatives to the point that they were going to impeach him if that's what it took to get the lout out of office and restore some dignity and credibility to the Presidency. And liberals were outraged that anyone would try to impeach their President over a mere sexual dalliance or its legal results (perjury). The whole thing just reflects the deep cultural divide between the anything-goes liberals and the traditionalist conservatives.

My sympathies lie with the conservatives here. Watch this video again of Clinton telling his famous "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" lie. He is very serious, very aggressive, very indignant - and is completely lying to our faces. Anyone with decency would not have done that, or would have resigned when caught in the lie. Clinton has no decency in this regard, and we will be subjected for the rest of his life to his continuing efforts to rewrite history to make himself out to be the victim.

Jeremy said...

Theo-
Plus, could you imagine a Democratic House doing anything that would result in Dick Cheney as POTUS?