They’re doing it again. Blaming Bill. It’s become the great American political past time and this week marks an anniversary, of sorts.
Of course, if William Jefferson Clinton hadn’t had consensual sex…er been intimate with a 21 year-old intern named Monica Lewinski we’d never have gone down this road. But he did, so here we are… again.
However, since I lived through Watergate, not missing a moment of the televised hearings, the Lewinski scandal hardly meets even the Nixon standard for crimes. Though if Nixon hadn’t come first maybe Republicans wouldn’t be hell bent on getting their revenge. For that matter, if he’d been impeached, with the nation taught what that entailed, maybe Bill would have been simply censured, with impeachment a punishment too far for a consensual sex “crime,” even if he did lie to cover it up. (What man wouldn’t?)
Conservatives cannot wait to greet each day with their tortured retro analysis of former President Clinton’s perceived failures, especially as the Bush administration is badly faltering on the home front.
Even as Enron bankruptcy factoids drip-drip-drip out of the White House, not even Vice President Dick Cheney’s spokesperson, Mary Matalin, can resist a nostalgic swipe at the former prez, stating that there is no political scandal surrounding Enron because there is no blue dress.
There it is, that damnable blue dress making it into the news yet again. What would conservatives do without Monica?
And if it isn’t the blue dress, it’s President Clinton’s failures regarding terrorism. Never mind that the only people President Bush kept in his administration were also members of Clinton’s counterterrorism team, including C.I.A. Director George Tenet.
And remember that Clinton military, which the Bush-Cheney team used adnauseam during campaign 2000, saying that it wasn’t ready for action?
Well, it looks to me as if our military, which is neither Democrat nor Republican, but American, is doing a damn fine job winning the war in Afghanistan.
Oh, what Monica has cost.
Four years ago this week the Washington Post, LA Times and ABC News announced that Ken Starr would be extending the Paula Jones sexual harassment investigation to include a young woman named Monica Lewinsky. (Just wait for her HBO special, for which she was paid a rumored $150,000, where she will finally tell it all.) It was January 21, 1998 when the Starr investigation expanded, leading to the most expensive and excessive abuse of prosecutorial power over a consensual sexual act between two adults in the history of modern man.
If you don’t believe the Republican impeachment crusade cost America dearly, history says otherwise.
What would the right-wing Republicans, and a handful of Democrats, say now to impeachment, if they had the luxury of knowing what would happen on 9.11?
For that matter, would the illustrious Supreme Court had allowed the civil law suit of Paula Jones to go forward, if they were able to gaze into a crystal ball to see the destruction of 9.11? How important is a civil law suit, which could go forward immediately after the expiration of the president’s term in office, compared to the business of the country? Would the Supreme Court have made the same ruling today, post 9.11? The answer is no.
It is now widely known that our actions in Somalia, in 1993, greatly emboldened Osama bin Laden. His response to our quick troop withdrawal after the now infamous Black Hawk Down tragedy is evidence that he was watching the United
States very closely. As has become clear, the terrorists seem to know far more about our movements than we do about theirs.
That’s because when Congress, led aggressively by a Republican majority, should have been paying attention to bad guys in the world bent on our destruction, they were instead intent on the demise of the Democratic Bad Boy in the White House, President William Jefferson Clinton.
We all agree that Bad Boy Bill did a great disservice to us all when he got caught with his pants down in the White House. But what was worse is that he fed his enemies the ammunition they needed to go after
him, no holds barred.
Greater statesmen would have known, or at least sensed, which some did, the inherent risk to weakening a sitting president by the arrogance of a moral persecution based on the prosecution of sexual misconduct, even if the man was stupid enough to get seduced at a time when JFK’s traditional media had been replaced by the dawning of new media.
But while conservative Republicans in Congress insisted on quibbling over Clinton’s diddling, half a world away Osama bin Laden and his band of thugs were undoubtedly planning the bombings of our embassies in Tanzania and the Sudan and as those bombings took place, other al Qaeda members were getting set in the United States, waiting for the time to strike.
But the Republican majority in Congress had better things to do than focus on terrorism. Why pay attention to the warnings of people like former Senator Sam Nunn and Republican Senator Richard Lugar?
When you read the history of the Jones-Lewinsky-Clinton waltz, what you find at the bottom, whether it’s through Michael Isikoff’s intriguing “Uncovering Clinton,” or the Starr Report, is a group of right-wing conservatives who couldn’t stand the fact that the President of the United States had sex in the oval office with someone other than his wife.
They’ve been after him for years.
Camouflage it all you want with the lying under oath and the posturing rule of law, but the bottom line was that the “vast right wing conspiracy” came after President Clinton because, when they found out about
Paula Jones, they wanted to nail him for moral lapses, which had plagued him throughout his life. Then raise it to impeachment level to hit the Democratic Party’s only two-term president since FDR.
Could Monica Lewinsky help cement the Paula Jones case, proving more sex in the workplace? Above all else, conservative Republicans thought President Clinton’s sexual behavior was unbecoming of a president, so they backed the babe from the boondocks, and went for broke.
Conservative host Sean Hannity of FOX News even stated last week that President Clinton should have resigned. Over sex.
Wouldn’t terrorists around the world have loved to see the President of the United States, the head infidel, resign over an extramarital affair! Talk about playing into the hands of the enemy. The presidency is larger than a sexual affair with an intern, and, thank God, at least President Clinton and some of his supporters, in America and around the globe, knew this.
If it hadn’t been for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, however, many of Clinton’s establishment support just might have vanished. Since she served on the Watergate committee, impeachment grounds is something to which she’s familiar
If it had been left up to righteous right-wing Republicans, we would have handed the terrorists the entire country, not just Clinton’s presidency on a platter.
President Clinton had the backbone to stand and fight to the end, regardless of the interminable humiliation he had brought on himself. But however harmful his actions were to himself and his family, resigning the presidency would have been far worse for the American people.
Now the conservatives are blaming Bad Boy Bill again, only this time it’s for not protecting us against terrorism, (or for aiding an American company like Enron abroad, which is part of a president’s duty), or anything else Republicans can conjure up.
It’s time the Republicans and conservatives take responsibility for the frivolously expensive action that put a sexual witch hunt of the president above the importance of the United States and its citizen’s security.
For do we really believe that President Clinton, while obviously doing good work throughout the Starr investigation, had the full power to exert all his energies and potential on policy, domestic and foreign, during such a time?
In hindsight, with the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers looming large in our recent memories, the sheer outrageous pettiness of impeaching a president over sex now seems like a heinous crime against
the vital interests of all Americans.
Certainly, President Clinton’s behavior was what set everything in motion, but was a sexual harassment lawsuit, which had been thrown out of court on the merits, really worth putting the country through such an ordeal, especially considering what was sidelined to put impeachment first?
If 9.11 has taught us anything, it’s that how the world perceives the United States and what we focus on matters a great deal to the safety and stability of our nation and the world.
But it was the dot-com decade, a time filled with “irrational exuberance,” unbounded possibilities, and arrogant assumptions about America. Politicians felt they could exploit anything and get away with it, including taking aim at the presidency itself.
And getting Bad Boy Bill became political sport from the moment he stepped foot in Washington, never mind that Rep. Henry Hyde brought his own personal failings along as baggage.
What we have learned is that while Republican political zealots took aim at the president, terrorists laughed at our hedonism, watching and planning their next moves, while politicians went on a political hunt for heads without once thinking about the impact this would have with our enemies.
While the Starr investigation raged on and on, after the Khobar Towers tragedy, in early August 1998,
bombings in Tanzania and the Sudan took place.
On August 17, 1998, President Clinton testified before the grand jury finally admitting to “inappropriate sexual contact” with Monica Lewinsky.
Then on August
20, 1998, our president bombed Afghanistan and the Sudan.
The right-wing conservatives shouted from the rooftops that it was President Clinton way of looking presidential and deflecting attention away from the investigation. Ironically, it was the unanimous recommendation from the Joint Chiefs of Staff that led to the bombing, as they insisted this was not only a can do operation, but a must do retaliation.
Still, the right-wing conservatives spewed their venomous rhetoric of how President Clinton was using the embassy bombings as an excuse to unleash the military to make himself look more powerful and presidential.
Can you imagine what would have happened had he launched a “war on terrorism?”
In the midst of the Starr investigation, President Clinton was damned no matter what he did or didn’t do, hobbling his effectiveness any way you look at it.
Osama bin Laden must have watched with glee as President Clinton’s fellow Americans took him apart on television, in print and in the Congress, humiliating the Infidel in Chief.
This investigation into the president’s sexual misconduct was important, chimed the Republicans in near unison.Â Having sex out of wedlock in the oval office? Prosecute him and remove him from office. Damn
the consequences, in God we trust.
Unfortunately, President Clinton had allowed his petty enemies to get the god awful goods on him, and they took their best shot. Impeached in the House. Acquitted in the Senate.
But the world had acquitted Bad Boy Bill long ago, because average people knew it had been about sex all along. The right-wing zealots just couldn’t stand the notion of a president unzipping his pants and getting
fellatio during the workday from a willing young woman.
In the luxury of our irrational exuberance, we allowed a group of right-wing ideologues to put their petty moralist beliefs above the citizens’ and country’s best interest, allowing our enemies to advance.
Why weren’t the Republicans in Congress paying more serious attention to business and accounting regulations, instead of thwarting such efforts?
Instead, they focussed their considerable energies on investigating the sexual shenanigans of a man and his mistress.
Why weren’t Republicans paying more attention to aviation and airline issues, which had been a problem for years, instead of playing peeping toms?
They’d rather hear about sex and cigars.
What about immigration, I.N.S. and State Department visa issues that allowed terrorists to enter our country without being tracked? Vice
President Gore had suggested tying computer databases together so that people entering the U.S. could be tracked simultaneously through the F.B.I. and other agencies. Why didn’t the Republican majority
in Congress follow up on this critically important issue?
That’s no fun.Â About that sexual relationship, Ms. Lewinsky. Exactly who touched whom where, and did he touch you there?
Right-wing Republicans couldn’t resist the opportunity to take President Clinton out to the woodshed and teach him a moral lesson. Having consensual sex in the oval office, with someone other than your wife, Mr.
President, will not be tolerated.
Thank you very much, purred a sniveling Osama bin Laden.
Four years ago this week, Monica Lewinsky and the blue dress became the focus of domestic policy for the Republicans, which had drastically tragic ramifications for America’s foreign policy. Whether they want to admit it or not, focusing on the president’s sex life while ignoring issues like immigration, aviation and airport safety, foreign policy and terrorism, has cost us plenty.
But the investigation and impeachment of President Clinton seems not to have satisfied the Republicans.
For if anyone is to blame for our lack of preparedness on terrorism, it is the people of the Congress and Starr’s investigative team, as well as other right-wing zealots, who focused the country’s energy and attention on one man’s sex life instead of the safety and security of America.
What did Monica cost?
Well, if you asked the Khobar Towers victims’ families, the Sudan and Tanzanian embassy bombing victims families, the crew and family members of the
USS Cole, or the 9.11 victims families, I’d bet they’d say that the right-wing Republicans that used all their energy to GET BILL CLINTON, wasted good money, precious time, and cherished energy fighting the wrong foe.
When Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were planning their biggest coups, why weren’t Republicans focused on them instead of the sexual proclivities of the President of the United States?
Was proving the president lied under oath about sex worth the lives of over 3,000 Americans?
What did Monica cost?
We’re still adding it up.
This post has been edited from its original version.