least a drop of truth in his glass when hernwarns against the terrible consequencesrnof removing any sitting president from office.rnThe President of the United Statesrnhas become a kind of symbol: He is therncommander in chief, leader of the freernworld, an expert—like Stalin —on anyrnsubject his aides choose to prep him on,rnand before too long we can expect PresidentrnAl Gore to be promoting Lysenkoism.rnGlobal Warmingism, and homeopathicrnmedicine with NSF grants andrnprofessorships at government-controlledrnuniversities like Harvard. SenatorrnMoynihan’s message is clear: The Presidentrnis above the law.rnWhat did Senator Moynihan think, Irnwonder, when his old boss RichardrnNixon was hounded out of office for connivingrnat the kind of dirty tricks that bothrnparties play on each other? We knowrnwhat many people thought at that time,rnwhich is that the President of the UnitedrnStates should display a loftier characterrnthan the average citizen. But that was 25rnyears ago, and more than a generationrnhas passed. We are not the people wernwere.rnIn 1972, when Richard Nixon was reelected.rnWorld War II veterans were stillrnrunning the country, and people of myrnand Clinton’s generation were still dodgingrnthe draft. In the intervening quarterrnof a century, we have learned to dependrnless upon ourselves and more upon therngovernment. Most of us have spent arnlarge part of our lives in front of the television.rnWe know little history and thatrnlittle consists of regime-serving mythsrnthat would embarrass a Stalinist. Wernread less — and what we read is writtenrnon a level for TV-watchers. We are sornthoroughly indoctrinated that we do notrneven realize that much of what we callrnnews is vulgar propaganda.rnAs our lives become drabber and lessrnsubstantial, we become obsessed withrncelebrities—body-sculpted starlets, basketballrnplayers, and jet-setting politicos.rnPeople magazine is our Bible and LarryrnKing is the greatest prophet. Every day,rnAmerican life becomes less and less likernsomething the authors of the Federalistrnwould have understood and more andrnmore like scenes from Petronius’s Satyricon,rnwhere sex substitutes for love, profitsrnfor productivity.rnPetronius lived in the time of the EmperorrnNero, when the Romans no longerrnvoted for their consuls but were contentrnto worship whatever buffoon had beenrnselected to be the god-man who ruledrnthe world’s only remaining superpower.rnEven after his disgusted associates finallyrnsucceeded in murdering their emperor,rnNero remained popular with the masses,rnand pretender after pretender was greetedrnby adoring crowds. Nero had beenrnpopular in his lifetime. His sexual escapadesrnand the murder of his friendsrncounted for nothing, and the Romanrnsenate, which had long since given up itsrnpretense to independence, treated himrnas a god.rnIn a republic, a man of Nero’s characterrnwould not rise to the position of mayor,rnmuch less that of chief magistrate,rnand in a republic. Bill Clinton wouldrnhave become a personal injury lawyer orrnan Elvis-impersonator. In anointingrnClinton with the holy oil of their votes,rnthe American people were saying theyrndid not care what kind of man becamernPresident, so long as he promised themrnjobs and benefits, and in refusing to removernhim from office, the Senate of thernUnited States is living up to the standardrnset by their Roman predecessors.rn— Thomas Flemingrn”EIGHT IS ENOUGH” was a popularrntelevision show, but can eight be toornmany when they come at one time, asrnthey did recently to a Nigerian couple inrnTexas?rnProfessional pro-lifers have praised therncourage of mothers who, faced with realrnthreats to their health or the health ofrntheir unborn children, have rebuffed thernmodern medicine men offering “selectivernreduction.” Nevertheless, the recentrnand unprecedented run of multiplernbirths iTiay be less an occasion for pro-liferneuphoria than an opportunity for Christiansrnto reflect on what they mean whenrnthey say that they respect life. Christiansrnshould have found the circus surroundingrnthe birth of the McCaughey septupletsrna little unsettling when Mr. McCaugheyrndeclared that there would bernno more McCaugheys since he had hadrnhimself sterilized. (Of course, even beforernMr. McCaughey’s announcement,rnit would have been reasonable to questionrnthe judgment, if not the moHves, ofrna couple who already had a child, yet stillrnsought aggressive fertility therapy.)rnRespect for life means more than believingrnthat abortion and infanticide arernmurder. A complete respect for life requiresrna reverence for the creative forcesrnthat cooperate to bring children into thernworld: the will of God and the conjugalrnlove of a man and his wife that unites therncouple and (at least potentially) gives risernto new life.rnArtificial contraception separatesrnthese two natural qualities of the reproductivernact, but so do the multitude ofrnfertilization techniques that have becomernpopular since Louise Brown wasrnborn two decades ago. But the tie betweenrntechnological methods of preventingrnand creating life is not only theological.rnThe evidence is anecdotal, but onlyrnbecause no one has been brave enoughrnto document scientifically the connectionrnbetween widespread, long-term usernof hormonal contraceptives and therngrowing demand for fertility therapies.rnMargaret Sanger herself knew what nornpusher of the Pill today will admit:rnPlanned Parenthood once advisedrnyovmg women to establish their fertilityrnbefore practicing contraception.rnSince Pope Pius XII, the CatholicrnChurch has argued that modern reproductivernprocedures are moral only if theyrn”assist but not replace” the marital act.rnMany procedures fall short: When conceptionrntakes place outside the womb orrnsperm is collected through masturbation,rn”the technical means i s . . . a substituternfor the conjugal act” {Donum Vitae).rnOther procedures may fall safely withinrnthe realm of “assistance,” but they arernnot without moral difficulties of theirrnown. Drugs that cause a woman to releasernas many as seven or eight eggs at arntime can lead to an occasion of sin if thernmother’s faith is not as strong as that ofrnBobbie McCaughey or Nkem Chukwu.rnKilling a few for the sake of the restrnmakes all too much sense to the modernrnmind.rnYet even mothers who know that theyrnshould not kill their children nor attemptrnto thwart the will of the Creator by replacingrnthe womb with a petri dish mustrnresolve certain ethical questions beforernrisking the multiple births that commonlyrnresult from the use of fertility drugs. Arncouple must evaluate with caution anyrntherapy known to create circumstancesrnthat are unsafe or excessively burdensome.rn”Just War” theory requires,rnamong other things, that the desired outcomernof the war must be equal to the inevitablernloss of life and destruction ofrnproperty. Similarly, children are not arnright that married couples can pursue atrnall costs. They are a gi/f—”the most gratuitousrngift of marriage” {Donum Vitae)rn—and they, and the mysterious waysrn8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn