Jewish World Review April 25, 2000 /20 Nissan, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT the president could not possibly say anything so ridiculous that anyone would have to report on him ever again, the other day Bill Clinton praised himself for having "saved the Constitution."
Never at a loss for words when speaking of his many and manifold accomplishments, in remarks to the American Society of Newspaper Editors the president continued, incoherently: "I think -- first of all, I had to defeat the Republican revolution in 1994, when they shut down the government, and we beat back the Contract on America. Then we had to beat it in the impeachment issue. Then we had to beat it when I vetoed the tax cut last year. Then the voters had their verdict in the 1998 election and in the 1996 election."
That's how he "saved the Constitution of the United States."
Even the doe-eyed, Kool-Aid-drinking Clinton-lovers must wish he'd just continue to tour various Third World countries, serving out the rest of his term on the lam. In the "developing" countries, his audiences at least have the advantage of being poverty-stricken hut-dwellers who have no cable and, consequently, have no idea who he is.
It is mind-boggling, but this is a man who defines having "saved the Constitution" as any political win, even an ill-gotten unconstitutional win. In fact, and just by the way, the Republicans did fulfill all their promises under the Contract With America. (The great statesman Clinton talks like a hyperventilating morning shock jock in describing his political opponents' legislative initiatives: It was the Contract With America, not the Contract on America.)
But let's just say Clinton had somehow hornswoggled the Republican Congress into breaking their pledge to bring up a line-item veto for a vote -- perhaps even that Clinton had beaten them back on the contract's daring pledge to cut House committee staff by one-third. (!) What kind of man thinks that his personal political triumph constitutes saving the Constitution?
The Constitution, written by men with more character in their little toes than this whole president could fake in a lifetime, allows for political disagreement. Indeed, that's pretty much the idea: The Constitution provides a framework for resolving political disputes. First it imposes limits on what the federal government can do; and then even among the three branches of the federal government, it provides specific mechanisms for each of them to exercise power.
If elected members of Congress manage to enact bills the president opposes, whether by overruling his veto or persuading the citizenry to support the measure, that's not a constitutional crisis. That's known as a constitutional republic. But apparently this president believes the Constitution is threatened with imminent destruction whenever its checks and balances operate to thwart his will.
On Clinton's theory that the Republican legislative agenda would have destroyed the Constitution itself, why not order the suspension of habeas corpus or the First Amendment to stop them? What measures would be excessive in saving the Constitution from, presumably, the evil "Contract on America" -- as the president so maturely put it?
But just for the sake of argument, let's say Alexander Hamilton and James Madison are not spinning like whirling dervishes in their graves. Let's say a president's cruising the West Wing, obstructing justice, and actually perjuring himself before a federal judge -- among other infractions -- are not black-letter impeachable offenses.
In fact, let's just forget about the felonious president altogether, leave him glad-handing the hut dwellers for a while, and consider the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, instead.
Though it remains disputed, there is a serious case to be made that President Johnson should not have been impeached -- that he was simply contesting Congress' will with the only powers delegated to him under the Constitution. Assume Congress was wrong for impeaching Johnson, but that the Senate had removed him anyway. Would even that have destroyed the Constitution?
Of course it wouldn't have. People might have looked back years later and concluded that the 1868 Senate got it wrong, just as we look back now and say the Supreme Court got it wrong in this or that case. The Constitution may be a perfect document, but is designed to function in the hands of imperfect men.
Clinton is not simply an imperfect man with questionable theories about the Constitution.
He thinks he is the Constitution. And that gum-snapping bimbo with the "presidential kneepads"
JWR contributor Ann Coulter is the author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton.
04/24/00: It's sunny today, so we need gun control