We thought it would never get this far. The arguments against impeachment were, at best, interesting. But frankly, we didn't find any that were persuasive. Here are some of them:
Lying to a grand jury about a sexual liaison doesn't "rise to the Constitutional level of 'high crimes and misdemeanors.'" Oh, really. We had been taught early on that lying to a grand jury about anything was not only wrong, it was a violation of the law. President Clinton didn't lie by accident. We all watched him on TV. He told the grand jury one thing. And then, back to the wall, he told a very different story later on. As he sat before the grand jury, I'm sure he figured that "this, too, would pass," and not telling the truth would buy him some valuable time. Obviously, it didn't happen that way.
Does lying to a grand jury about sexual relations with a young intern qualify a president for impeachment? There's no historical precedent, all the quotes from our Founding Fathers notwithstanding. Those who wrote our Constitution couldn't have imagined a situation like this. Our society has changed dramatically in the last two centuries. Even though the general words they wrote about impeachment may hold true, when it comes to specifics, we're writing our own history.
And what will that history be? If the President of the United States is allowed to lie to a grand jury, does that open the door for the rest of us? Does it effectively change our whole system of jurisprudence? Or does it send a signal that some people are treated one way while the rest of us are treated differently? We think that's the wrong historical precedent to set.
We are a nation out of control, and this action will just push us into an abyss.
Representative Dick Gephardt said as much. His point, I guess, was that voting to impeach would continue some sort of national self-destruction. Those words have a nice flair-especially from one who would like to hold the office himself-but they're hardly the truth. We haven't fallen into an abyss since the vote. The world has continued pretty much as before. The United States is still held in high regard in most countries of the world. We firmly believe that the same will hold true during a Senate trial. Even if President Clinton were found guilty and removed from office, life as we know it would not change. There is precedent for that. We've had a president resign in disgrace, yet we rallied behind his vice president-turned president-and did not plunge into an abyss.
A censure would be just as effective as impeachment. We beg to differ. We think censure amounts to a slap on the wrist in a case where much more is warranted. Think about it. This is no ordinary man. This is the President of the United States. The nation's chief law enforcement officer. A man who knows better than anyone else the importance of upholding our laws. Yet he was willing to violate one of the most basic of those laws because he didn't want people to know he'd been fooling around with a young woman. Finding ways to help him escape the consequences of his lying under oath will erode the judicial process. We believe the man no longer deserves to be in office.
The will of the people is that President Clinton not be removed from office. Two things. First, that conclusion was based on the results of polls, and we've never really trusted polls that much. They can be very accurate on one issue, then completely off the mark on a different one. Besides, we're always a bit suspicious of representatives who always vote the way the polls go.
Secondly, whatever happened to elected officials who vote their conscience? This is not a popularity contest. It's serious business-the kind of business that we would hope our representatives would handle despite what their constituents had to say. In fact, as our elected leaders, they are students of history, law and government. We must assume they have more insight into the entire situation to respond in the best interests of the country. We are proud of the role our elected Congressman Ray LaHood has played in the proceedings, and the professionalism and concern he and his staff have shown to his district. Congressman LaHood epitomizes the strong leadership our nation needs. He commands the respect of colleagues and constituents alike.
President Clinton responded to his impeachment by saying: "The politics of personal destruction has to come to an end." Frankly, we think he's his own worst enemy, and is as much to blame as anyone for the "politics of personal destruction." If he had not sullied the office of the presidency-first by his actions, then by his false statements to the grand jury-he wouldn't have put the country through all of this. We agree that there are those who would like nothing better than to see someone else as president. Now he's given them the ammunition to do it.
We do want this all to be over, for our government to concentrate on national defense, budget matters, health care, social security, education and welfare-to-work issues to name a few. But we do not want to compromise on the faithful execution of the law. IBI