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Newt Bows Out; Don’t Derail The Train; Identity Abroad; Sticking to Your Guns


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Jonah Goldberg

NEWT BOWS OUT
So Newt’s out. His resignation was a shame, a necessary shame. Rather than face hurting his Party, he took himself out of the game.

It was necessary because Bill Clinton had managed to use Gingrich the way Perseus wielded Medusa’s head. Whenever he was under fire, Clinton would merely pull Gingrich out of his kit bag and declare, “Deal with me…or deal with…this!” Petrified, the Democrats dropped their complaints.

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Of course, the monstrous caricature the Democrats made out of Gingrich was almost entirely unfair. But they did it. Gingrich couldn’t fix it. So, he quit. But Gingrich was simply a hindrance to the Party, while the President is a hindrance to the country. Nevertheless, he’s sticking it out.

As for Gingrich’s replacement, I think Chris Cox would have been a better choice than Livingston, but it looks like Livingston has wrapped it up. The interesting thing will be to see how long it takes for the White House to demonize the entire new Republican leadership. It’s the only strategy Clinton knows and it has served him well. I predict the issues will be Livingston’s efforts on blocking anti-corruption legislation and proposals for citizens to petition the House. The White House won’t attack until it knows which way Livingston leans on impeachment. But eventually it will.

DON’T DERAIL THE TRAIN
Though it may surprise some, I’ve never actually said the President should be removed from office (at least not when my temper was in check). I have said he should be impeached, meaning we should have serious hearings in the House and articles of impeachment moved to the Senate. I think there is probably ample cause to remove the man. But whether we should remove him is a different question. Cause for terminating an employee doesn’t always have to be acted upon.

But stopping the process dead in its tracks as some people seem to be advocating as a result of the election would be wrong. Despite what Bill Clinton thinks, this is not about Bill Clinton. It’s about America. In today’s Washington Times, a major in the Marine Corps Reserve writes a scathing essay entitled, “Please, Impeach my Commander in Chief.” Whether or not you agree with his blistering critique of the President, even the most dedicated Clinton defenders should recognize that it is disturbing for America’s military to feel the way it does about its Commander-in-Chief. Major Rabil is not alone, and short-circuiting the process now will only exacerbate those feelings.

IDENTITY ABROAD
The New York Times has an interesting article on the “Christian Persecution Movement.” Christians in the U.S. are rallying in support of “Christian martyrs” in far-flung, mostly Islamic, lands. What is interesting is that both liberal and conservative denominations are joining together in defense of their brethren abroad. The movement makes scholars and diplomats nervous. Often, the persecution of Christians is really enmeshed in larger cultural, ethnic, and political turmoil, say the experts. The experts are surely correct.

But what is interesting is that this same criticism is often made about the plight of women in Asia and Africa. Abuse of women, too, is a symptom of a disease, not the disease itself. But such criticism falls on deaf ears with U.S. feminist groups and academics. As the Times points out, American labor unions, also, see the plight of the oppressed abroad through the narrow prism of their own interests. Thus, they care mostly about working conditions. The concern American Jews have for Israel is well-reported, and sometimes over-reported. But to be sure the concern is real.

It seems to me to be a text-book example of how identity politics is affecting foreign affairs. The Left has a condescending view of foreign cultures. They decry the alleged racism and sexism of the American South but demur at criticizing far more brutal societies abroad. Except of course for feminist groups who care about the plight of women, labor groups who care about the plight of workers, gay groups and gays, etc. And now, Christian groups are moving into the same paradigm.

The real answer of course is that these countries, for the most part, suffer these anachronistic problems in precise proportion to their lack of two things: capitalism and democracy. If you don’t believe me, ask the Pope.

STICKING TO YOUR GUNS
University of Chicago Law School Professor Cass Sunstein, appeared on CNN’s Burden of Proof today. Sunstein says that High Crimes and Misdemeanors pertains solely to the President’s public actions. Fair enough. When asked what if the President murdered somebody. He responded, “Well, that’s a tough case.”



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