Ivo Skoric on Fri, 29 Jan 1999 00:39:45 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The Impeachable but Unconvictable President

The Impeachable but Unconvictable President

It is clear by now that Congress Republicans prepared their case
against the President rather impetuously, despite the poundage of
the paper used and reels of the betacam tape spent covering the
case, which kind of coincide with their impatient zeal to get this
country run by their somewhat crude standards.

Clinton used some of their better ideas to make the U.S. a better
place, and vetoed some of their more stupid outpourings, while the
Senate found the compromise on the rest. The usual Republican
complaint about Democrat executives, that they just tax and spend,
does not apply to Clinton, who pulled out the virtual miracle of
balancing the books of the largest government apparatus in the

So, they hate him, and they had to find something that they can use
to get rid of him, something that he cannot veto and something that
Senate cannot compromise on. And they shot themselves in the foot
while cleaning the gun meant to be used on the President.

I don't say that it is not quite obvious that Clinton is guilty of
perjury, obstruction of justice and all the other high crimes the
Congress Republicans are accusing him of, but they missed three
1)	their case is not technically well prepared 
2)	at the vote
	in the senate against the motion to dismiss, only one democrat voted
	"nay" with republicans - a far cry from the 2/3 majority republicans
	would need to convict
3)	this trial goes against the common sense -
	Clinton lied to the country about receiving a blow job from the
	intern, which is a victimless crime (except for his wife and family,
	so maybe they should deal with that alone), while the U.S. as a
	country fared pretty well under his presidency, so the electorate
	does not want him out of the office

While Republicans might be legally right, they will have hard time
to prove their case, and even if they manage to do it, they will
still have the common sense against them, and American people
believe in common sense more than in law, so if they succeed in
convicting Clinton, they would win an unpopular victory. On the
other hand, as he would say, if they fail to extort a conviction,
which seems likely, Clinton may punish them in the future by vetoing
all their initiatives. On top of that they already built themselves
a bad image by continuing to attack the popular president. 

The TV is a merciless judge. They used it to portray Clinton as a
cheating, lying son of a bitch. The audience responded: right on,
but so what? The soap opera continued, and now it serves a single
purpose to increase ratings to TV news programs, as a replacement
for the O.J. trial. It is akin to a public beheading  in medieval
times (or throwing Christians to the lions in Roman times), only
today, in more civilized times, we have bloodless character
assassinations televised to the largest possible audience. Also, it
is not Clinton's head on the beheading stump any more, but the
Republicans, and they seem to begin to realize that the heat is on
them now.

The near absolute power American "prime time" TV has over the 
American collective mind is the best described by an example: Robbie 
Gordon and Diane Sawyer of ABC's Prime Time Live won an Emmy Award 
for their hidden-camera expose of fatal mistakes that medical labs 
reading PAP smears do by pushing their technicians to read more than 
legally allowed maximum daily, mistakes that usually lead to 
hysterectomy or death. Although they could not prove that the lab 
that they had exposed, engaged in the unlawful practice, and although 
the lab's false-negative rate was 21.7% (which is well at the low end 
of the industry-wide range of 20 to 50 percent), with clever editing
(silhouette of an unidentified lab worker complaining about tired
eyes and old equipment, then a chilling, graphic story about a woman
who had a hysterectomy, then back to the lab in sunny Arizona...),
they managed to completely destroy the life of lab owner, who filed
for bankruptcy, lost his lab and now works there as a technician (on
top of that, he *lost* the lawsuit against ABC).

Obviously, TV would like this trial to go forever. But the accusers
are not as enthusiastic about the case any more. What some
Republicans in the Senate call for - a quick vote on the case -
would essentially amount to the British Parliament no confidence
vote - a practice unprecedented under the U.S. Constitution. It
seems the Republicans got tired and scared of their own monster-

What some Democrats in the Senate say - that everything that they
suggested so far was rejected by their Republican peers, together
with the clear and harsh partisan division along every vote on the
issue, sadly reminds me of the last Communist Party Congresses in
former Yugoslavia, where Slovenian delegates used to repeat the same
mantra: that everything that they had suggested to make Yugoslavia
work, had been summarily rejected by Milosevic's Serb delegates, who
wanted to have, and eventually had their way in Yugoslavia - with
catastrophic consequences.

In the U.S. we already face the possibility, following Speaker
Livingston's resignation, of having David Duke, a guy whose pictures
exist wearing a swastika armband, in the Congress.

And there is just a year away from the first primary. Some senators
may use all this prime time to build their public persona. I wonder
if the key factor in the next presidential elections would be the
position a candidate took on Clinton's blow job case, given that
this *is* the most important public issue today...

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