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Jewish World Review / August 26, 1998 / 4 Elul, 5758

Don Feder

Don Feder Public opinion
be damned

REGARDING THE IMPEACHMENT of William Jefferson Clinton, public opinion be damned -- or, at the very least, disregarded.

Polls on Monica's playmate are all over the board.

However, opinion surveys consistently indicate the following: While a majority believes that Clinton lied about his sexual exploitation of a 21-year-old intern, nevertheless, most Americans approve of the president's job performance (69 percent in a recent ABC News poll), wish to hear no more of governmental affairs and think Clinton should neither resign nor be impeached.

Not for nothing did H.L. Mencken call them the boob-geoise.

The American people are basically decent. But, preferring the tranquility of the pasture, they usually have to be driven to a confrontation with reality.

If it were up to the majority, we wouldn't have a country. Historians tell us that in 1776 only one-third of the colonists were patriots. Another third were Tories, and a third (yawn) found the question of American independence too fatiguing.

In 1861, a majority of Northerners were willing to let the South secede rather than fight a civil war to maintain the union. Thank God there were no opinion polls after Bull Run.

It wasn't until Pearl Harbor that most Americans wanted to join the war against fascism, even though it was clear from 1938 on that our national survival and the fate of the world depended on stopping Germany and Japan.

Richard Nixon didn't lose majority support until the final bitter months of his presidency.

We are a nation of reluctant boat-rockers, especially in good times. For most, personal considerations (how will it affect my 401-K plan?) take precedence over national interest.

Thus, absent a lot of coaching and guidance, the American people can never be counted on to take the difficult, but necessary, course. It isn't easy to detect the headlights of an oncoming train with a head firmly embedded in the sand.

Today, the public has been culturally conditioned to accept the debased notion that gross immorality, unless committed under klieg lights, does not disqualify one from high public office.

But the duties of the presidency are not faithfully discharged by seducing an intern in the people's house and then using the bully pulpit to deceive the public.

It's likely Clinton also lied under oath about this morals offense -- a felony, even in a civil case.

If he remains in office for the next two and a half years, the nation will be subjected to the exquisite irony of a criminal choosing the federal judges who shape constitutional law. What next -- a draft dodger as commander in chief?

This president is such damaged goods that even on those rare occasions when he does the right thing, such as bombing terrorist bases in Afghanistan and Sudan, his motives and timing are suspect. ("Did we get those DNA-testing facilities in Khartoum?" "Will there be anything left of the Third World when the president is through distracting us?") Clinton is a menace to national security.

I would love to see polling on the following hypothetical questions:

-- If it could be shown that, as governor of Arkansas, the president knew that federally insured loans were being illegally diverted to bolster his real-estate investments, should he resign or be forced from office?

-- If there's credible evidence that President Clinton molested White House volunteer Kathleen Willey, would he still be qualified to lead the nation?

-- If the president accepted campaign contributions from foreign nationals who he had reason to believe were acting as a conduit for the People's Republic of China and later approved the transfer of military technology to Beijing -- consequently improving the guidance systems of missiles aimed at America -- should he be given the bum's rush? (Did I mention that the U.S. companies involved donated massive sums to his party?)

Public opinion is transitory.

When the independent counsel's impeachment report arrives on Capitol Hill, and details of Clinton's high crimes and low conduct become common knowledge (Newsweek says the report is so explicit that readers will "want to throw up"), it will no longer be possible for the public to avert its gaze.

Now is the time for all good men to ignore opinion polls and focus on the law, the Constitution and preserving the integrity of our system of government.

The republic will be saved -- notwithstanding the current badly informed, ill-considered judgment of the American people.


8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
8/10/98: The truth won't set Clinton free
8/06/98: Truth about Hiroshima is incontrovertible
8/04/98: Clinton not the first hollow president
7/30/98: "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory
7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
6/24/98: Will Clinton betray Taiwan?
6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
4/22/98: School-choice is a religious freedom issue
4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.