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Acquit, Don't Censure President Clinton!
His Indiscretions Were Private
On Both Sides of Every Issue?
Is there anyone in the United States, or the world, who believes that President Clinton has not been censured? Is it really necessary for the U.S. Senate to make it formal?
If the Senate were wise, it would shun the divisive partisanship that characterized the impeachment proceedings in the House, bypass a trial that would be even more devastating to the country, and simply vote to acquit the president of charges that never should have been brought in the first place.
The Republican leadership has succeeded in embarrassing the president and his family, and I'm sure they will forever glory in that. They also have succeeded in embarrassing the American people and in staining the good name of the United States.
Clinton's indiscretions were private. They were not a proper subject for impeachment, and only a blindly extremist Clinton-hater could believe otherwise. The U.S. Constitution is not ambiguous; it specifically cites "high crimes" to make it clear that impeachment should be considered for only the most serious affronts to the American people and the Constitution.
The disgraceful conduct of the House in adopting two bogus articles of impeachment cannot be erased from history, nor can this House avoid the censure of future generations for its cowardly deed.
The Senate, however, can show the world that this country has not gone insane -- by acting reasonably on the two unreasonable articles of impeachment and forgetting about censure.
Republicans Re-write Constitution
House Republicans have forever rewritten the Constitution, effectively to make it more likely that Article II will be used by partisans to attempt to discredit or remove future presidents when they're unable to do so at the polls.
Congressman Christopher Shays, R-4th, ended up voting against the four impeachment articles after first declaring his opposition then wavering and holding a widely publicized hearing.
Some have called his vote "courageous," but I reserve judgment. He made it clear that he knew Clinton would be impeached without his vote. Was he trying to have it both ways? Does he intend to woo Democrats by saying he voted against impeachment and appease Republicans by saying he would have voted with them if they had needed his vote?
The ill-advised impeachment effort further degrades all politicians, from the president on down. Good civics teachers have, for years, held public service in high regard and conveyed that to their students. In my days at grammar school in Yonkers, N.Y., and at Norwalk High School, I've heard many inspiring stories of immigrants who came to the United States penniless with little or no knowledge of English and, after years of hard work, became a member of their state legislature -- or even of Congress.
Resignation, which many people favor, is not a viable option for Clinton.
Most Americans agree with me: He is doing a good job for America and should serve out his term.
More importantly, his resignation would merely feed the partisan frenzy.
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Jan. 2, 1999. After a year of investigations, hearings and a 21-day impeachment trial, the Senate acquitted Clinton on Feb. 12, 1999 of charges he committed perjury and obstructed justice.