CULTURAL REVOLUTIONSrnT H E IMPEACHMENT proceedingsrnwere the subject: of an extraordinary suggestionrnmade by Pat Caddell, a formerrnpollster for the Democratic Party, at thern”Dark Ages” retreat for members of thern”conservative movement” over NewrnYears’ weekend. Caddell told the gatheringrnthat the problem with the RepublicanrnParty was that they couldn’t seem tornpick the right issues. Republicans werernfoolishly hammering the President overrnhis sexual escapades instead of lambastingrnthe Clinton administration for thern”far more serious offenses of acceptingrnforeign campaign money and transferringrnsensitive missile technology to China.”rnAccording to the New York Times,rnCaddell received “a smashing round ofrnself-flagellating applause and . . . a standingrnovation.”rnAs one of the 19 invited scholars whornjourneyed to Washington to tell thernHouse Judiciary Subcommittee whatrnimpeachable offenses were, I thoughtrnimpeaching the President and seeking tornremove him from office for perjury in arncivil case, perjury before a grand jury,rnfelonious tampering with witnesses, andrngenerally corrosive obstruction of justicernmade some sense. I wonder if the “DarkrnAges” conservatives remember what theyrnare supposed to be conserving. I thinkrnthe Republican Party, or at least thernHouse members who voted to impeachrnthe President, were doing precisely thernright thing. Mr. Caddell thinks like arnpollster, and of course the polls tell usrnthat each time the President’s wrongdoingrnis more clearly revealed, he becomesrnmore popular. Simply on the basis of thernpolls, it would be understandable if thernDark Agers believed that the House Republicansrnwere wasting the nation’srntime, much less the President’s, with therneffort to remove him from office. Wliy,rnthen, the zeal of a Henry Hyde, a BobrnBarr, or a Lindsey Graham, or even ofrnme and a very few (probably no morernthan a couple hundred) academics?rnThose who think that the impeachmentrnproceedings against PresidentrnClinton may be the last—and perhapsrnthe most important—proceeding in therncidture wars which began in the 60’s,rnare, it turns out, exactly right. Those ofrnus who argued for impeachment wererntrying to preserve what used to be bestrnabout America, what we believe Washington,rnHamilton, Madison, and perhapsrneven Jefferson hoped to accomplishrnwith the new federal government. Readersrnof the Federalist and students of thern18th century know that the federal governmentrnwas designed to counter tendenciesrntoward corruption in state governments,rnjust as the Revolutionary Warrnwas fought because of allegations of corruptionrnin Great Britain. In the 1950’s,rnin a simpler America, readers of Supermanrncomics and viewers of the televisionrnprogram shivered when they heard himrnboast that he fought for “truth, justice,rnand the American way.” Truth, justice,rnand the American way—or, if you like,rnvirtue, integrity, honesty, and characterrn—are still what motivates those seekingrnthe impeachment and removal ofrnthis President.rnThe American way, beginning in thern17th century and continuing down tornour own time, was synonymous withrntruth and justice itself. We were supposedrnto be an exceptional country, arn”City on a Hill,” a beacon to the nations,rnto show that a people could be self-governedrnon the basis of biblical principlesrnin general and the Ten Commandmentsrnin particular. Not bearing false witnessrnwas an important commandment, and,rnwhen all the partisan chaff is blownrnaway, that and the impartial administrationrnof justice are still the issues in thernimpeachment of President Clinton.rnOn the other side, of course, are principlesrnof a sort. The defenders of thernPresident have a cynical (one is temptedrnto say “postmodern”) view of the law andrnof the motives of litigants. They see thernPaula Jones proceeding, the accusationrnof sexual harassment and infliction ofrnemotional distress which began the mostrnvisible of the President’s troubles, asrnprompted by the President’s enemies—rnthe “hard right” or the “Christian right”rnor the “right-wing conspiracy” —whornnever accepted William Jefferson Clintonrnor his election as legitimate. But thernimportant question for the President’srncritics is not who sponsored Ms. Jones orrnher court proceedings, but whether shernhad a right to seek justice free from perjuriousrnand felonious behavior on thernpart of the defendant. The President’srndefenders claim that this case simply involvesrn”lying about sex,” and implicitlyrninvoke the principle of privacy and thernbelief of the 60’s generation that whateverrnone does in the privacy of one’s bedroomrn(or, in this case, the purported nonprivacyrnof the Oval Office) is nobodyrnelse’s business. Or perhaps they are simplyrnfighting for the adolescent principlernthat “blow jobs don’t count,” so that pre-rn.sumably even a Chief Execufive who hasrna constih_itional duty to take care that thernlaws be faithfrilly executed can lie aboutrnoral sex in federal court proceedings andrngrand jury investigations, tamper withrnwitnesses, and otherwise obstruct justice.rnSo powerful are the claims of privacyrnand the allure of sexual libertinism thatrnthe President’s defenders cannot conceivernthat the motive of his impeachers isrnanything but unalloyed evil. It is not evil,rnhowever, but the timeless attraction of arnmore pristine morality, a simplishc andrneven noble aspiration toward equal justice,rnand a romanhc faith (as Paul Carrington,rnformer dean of the Duke LawrnSchool, calls it) in the rule of law that isrnbehind the effort to remove PresidentrnClinton from George Washington’s hallowedrnposition. The conventional wisdom,rnas this is written, is that the votesrnare not there to remove this President.rnPerhaps this will turn out to be true, butrnif it does, it will mean that at least a thirdrnof the United States Senate has forgottenrnwhat this country was supposed to be allrnabout.rn—Stephen PresserrnP R J ] S I D E N T CLIN^rON’S impeachmentrnwas a foregone conclusion, or sornthe syndicated columnists and the “politicalrnanalysts” on the television newsrnshows would have us think. Accordingrnto them. Republican leaders in thernHouse of Representatives enforced strictrnparty discipline and engaged in armtwistingrnto ensure the desired outcome.rnBut was the result predetermined, or arernthese analysts and columnists guilty ofrnmaking up their minds before any actualrnvohng took place? After all, each postvotern”analysis” corresponded closely tornpre-vote predictions. These so-calledrnanalyses were also suspiciously similar tornthe spin placed on the whole affair byrnWhite House spokesmen and by the majorityrnof Democratic politicians.rnIf one can believe the polls, it also appearsrnthat the public agrees with the pune/rnCHRONICLESrnrnrn