The Fayette Citizen-Opinion Page
Wednesday, September 16, 1998
Why are Democrats deserting the ship?


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As I write this, it is Thursday and independent counsel Kenneth Starr delivered his report to Congress yesterday afternoon. (The report, released to the public Friday, is available to read or to download on The Citizen's website

Suddenly, things are happening so fast that I may have to revise my comments to deal with new developments before the presses roll on Tuesday. We'll see.

As events continue to unfold, I am dumfounded by how Democrats are acting. They are deserting their champion faster than an Iraqui soldier can surrender.

The question is: Why? The last I heard from those vaunted opinion polls, the American people continue to believe that President Clinton should continue in office and they don't believe his crimes are worthy of impeachment.

If you believe the polls, as long as the economy continues to thrive, Clinton's future is secure. Therefore, Democrats who continue to attack the messenger, Starr, and defend the president should also have a secure future. Right?

There are a couple of possible explanations:

1. Many Democrats could sincerely be offended by the president's actions, especially his insincere apology followed by increasingly contrite ones. Maybe these folks truly are statesmen who can rise above politics when the moral implications are strong enough.

I'm sure that in many cases this is true. In spite of the general cynicism toward politics, many people run for office because they care about the country and they want to change it for the good. I'm sure some of them are genuinely hurt to find that their leader's behavior is 180 degrees from his stated philosophy where women's rights and respect for women are concerned.

2. They can't really continue to attack Starr. Some of the loyal commentators still do it, but politicians know better. As soon as Clinton began to confess and then began his transparent, repeated attempts to find the level of contrition that would play well in Peoria, attacks against Starr began to ring hollow.

Regardless of whether you believe the charges are worth impeachment, it turned out that the charges were true. And Kenneth Starr was doing no more than what he was charged with doing when Janet Reno, the president's own attorney general, appointed him.

He gathered the facts and has presented them to Congress.

3. The polls are either inaccurate or fixed, and Democrats know it. I suspect there is merit to this explanation as well.

So much in an opinion poll depends upon how the question is asked. If you asked me whether I believe President Clinton is doing a good job, I would say absolutely not. If you asked me whether I'm satisfied with the state of the nation and its economy under President Clinton, I would be forced to say yes. If you gave me room on the poll form, I would pencil in my belief that the nation is doing well in spite of Clinton, not because of him, but the pollsters would ignore that in any case.

I don't believe the majority of Americans are behind this president. In the first place, in the poll that matters the election the majority of those voting cast their votes for someone other than Clinton... twice. In a two-person race, he would have lost... twice.

In the second place, the majority of people in this country are conservative people with conservative values. They would not support the idea that the president is above the law if the question were worded clearly.

In the third place, I can't believe that more than a handful of the most rabid yellow dog Democrats are buying any of the spin that comes out of the White House anymore. If I'm wrong if people truly believe that Clinton is telling the truth when he shuts down the government and blames it on Republicans, when he vetoes a balanced budget but takes credit for it after it is forced on him, when he sits back and signs Republican bills and then takes credit for them, when he sells deadly technology to our sworn enemies then I have no hope for the future of this great experiment we call self-government.

We are obviously not ready to govern ourselves if we are still buying what this con man is selling. (You should have seen that sentence before I chickened out and watered it down.)

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