Just as the whole mess was ending, I finally found a short, simple, elegant statement of why I, as so many others, was so angry with Bill Clinton: I detest a smart-ass. Bill Clinton is reckless, cowardly, and arrogant, starting trouble and running away, leaving those who trusted him to clean up the mess and pay for the damage, knowing he can get away with it because he is a smooth talker — and because he is in a position of power. It was distressing to have Bill Clinton as my President; it’s downright galling to have Eddie Haskell.
This letter, suggesting an alternative fate for Mr. Clinton, was sent by e-mail to Representative Tom Campbell on the eve of the impeachment vote in the House Judiciary Committee, a couple of days later to Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and finally, on the eve of the senate trial, to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan; the idea sprouted and bloomed during a lunchtime discussion among the physicists and engineers at work; I don’t remember who offered the original seed. As I got no replies, and this scenario never played-out, I assume the suggestion was utterly ignored.
10 December 1998
Subject: I have the perfect solution…
…to the question of what to do about President Clinton’s indiscretions: a public shunning.
Picture the scene:
Bill Clinton is summoned to the capitol to hear from the Congress what his fate will be. The cameras are rolling as he arrives, broadcasting the event to a breathless nation. As he enters, the assembly rises as a body, but IN SILENCE. As he stands in the well of the senate he is flanked by the Sergeant-at-arms, and the president pro-tem of the senate intones:
“William Jefferson Clinton, liar — we call you as your acts demand. You lied to the courts to hide an infantile indiscretion; you lied to your cabinet officers and other officials of the executive branch to enlist them in defense of your folly; you lied to the American people to rally them to your cause. That you continue the lies even now demonstrates the true depth of your disrespect for this body and for the people for whom you hold your office in trust.
“In your role as the chief-executive, your lies, and the destructive chain of events instigated by them, have undermined the trust of the public in both the presidency and the congress, and for nine months have hampered the ability of the government to govern. That your offenses have been deemed unworthy of the dignity of impeachment in no way lessens their gravity or erases the damage you have caused.
“In your role as head of state, your lies, and the destructive chain of events instigated by them, have brought dishonor to the entire nation. That there is no constitutional mandate for punishing such a violation of trust in no way mitigates its severity.
“For your behavior we, as the legislative authority for the nation, and as the people’s representatives, hereby formally condemn your actions and your deceit. You are dismissed.”
And, with that, the entire congress, as a body, turns its back on Bill Clinton, and keeps it turned until the Sergeant-at-arms escorts him from the chamber. He may protest. He may try to speak in his defense. It doesn’t matter; until he is gone, no one turns to see or hear.
What a perfect punishment for this man who so craves approval and attention.
Of course, for it to work to full effect, it would have to catch him off-guard, and would have to be near-unanimous.
© Copyright 1998, 2005, Augustus P. Lowell