HOW TO HEAL THE GOP SPLIT New York Times reporter Richard Berke has a long piece in today’s papeer about how the Republican party is “split” over how to handle impeachment in post-impeachment America. It’s an interesting piece, but one should take it with a small bolder of salt.
If a giant asteroid made up of the frozen ebola virus were hurtling toward earth, Berke would submit to his editors an article headlined:
DOOMSDAY LIKELY TOMORROW! Republican Party Torn on Issue of Gays, Abortion. Lott: “Straight White Men will Die Too”
Richard Berke is the Times’s only full-time reporter covering national Republican politics. About thirty or forty times a year he writes various stories about how the Republican party is split, torn, schizophrenic, rent, or divided over some social issue. On one side are the “honest” and hence, “moderate” Republicans. On the other side of the chasm of hate are the “extremists,” “ultra religious,” “vengeful” or “mean-spirited” Republicans (my kind of people). He seems to honestly believe that all Republicans care about is rounding up gays (and their little Teletubbies too!) and turning women into full-time breeders. As we all remember now, impeachment, for some people, has become an issue of private sexual preferences rather than any of those legal-word-type-things. So his impeachment coverage always seems to have the rich bouquet of identity politics emanating from it.
Nevertheless, just because Berke says the Republican party is split over impeachment doesn’t mean it isn’t. Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation tells Berke that abandoning impeachment would be like “sweeping something under the rug which is going to come back to bite us.” It’s a bit of a mixed metaphor to be sure, unless you can think of some creature that can be swept under a rug that will later bite you. But Weyrich is right. And so is my NR colleague John Miller, who makes a similar point on the Times’s op-ed page. Impeachment will in fact become a fiasco, led by extremist prudes delving into private sex lives, if conservatives abandon the topic entirely. Miller cites how the Left continued its campaign of vilification against Clarence Thomas long after he was confirmed. Like a marathon-runner sprinting past the finish line of a hundred-yard dash, the Left kept going. They called Thomas a bigot, a pervert, an Uncle Tom, until public support had melted and then rehardened into the conventional wisdom of Thomas as a sexual predator.
But impeachment must be handled gingerly. Conservatives need to come to terms with the fact that justice delayed is justice denied. And justice will be denied. Clinton will not be punished in the way conservatives would like. He will not be removed from office, and unless something really big comes down the pike, he will have no more major legal troubles at all. But truth delayed is not truth denied. Truth and justice aren’t the same thing. That is why they are listed separately in Superman’s credo. Truth delayed is well, truth delayed.
The truth can still come out and offer more than a little justice to boot. And that is where conservatives need to focus. Republican candidates should forget about punishing the president, at least in their rhetoric. Instead, they should be a little wistful that the president got away with his “wrongdoing.” But, they should also be merciless and totally unapologetic about the truth of what Clinton did. Don’t couch it. Don’t excuse it. Simply speak about it as if everyone already agrees with you. That is what the White House has so brilliantly taught us: If you say something often enough and with sincerity it becomes true. The benefit about hammering on Clinton’s misdeeds is that they are already true. It takes a lot less energy to say that Bill Clinton lied and obstructed, etc., than to say Ken Starr spends several hours a day locked in the bathroom with the J.C. Penny Junior Miss catalog. Republican strategists who say the GOP must have a positive agenda on policy are right. Cut taxes, fund missile defense, push school choice. Great. At the same time, Republicans should say that the president’s Social Security plan is as much of a lie as his “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” statement. Be cavalier, even. Make it awkward for people to say the president didn’t commit perjury. If someone interrupts you with disagreement, sigh and say, “Do you really want to have that argument again?”
Republicans must drive forward. But even the best drivers know that the best way to do that is to keep an eye on the rear view mirror. If you ignore what’s behind you, you’re almost as likely to crash as if you only look ahead.
READER ADVISORY Tomorrow is Corrections Day, I know. I will try to clear up this mess about the Marquis of Queensberry and all the other stuff. But I’m leaving town tomorrow, and I may file late, or I might have to file corrections for the second Monday in a row. I am not dodging my responsibilities to humiliate myself. Humiliation delayed is not humiliation denied. At least here at the G-File.
I’LL JUST PLUG MYSELF I may not get paid enough to maintain my government cheese and leather-shoe soup habit, but I do get fringe benefits (until I was twelve I thought that phrase was actually “French Benefits” — but don’t get me started on what those might be. “Sir, I demand more cheese!” “You want moi to fight! Mon Dieu! What about my benefits!?!”). One of these perks is I get to shamelessly promote myself and my friends. None of my furniture has had any major accomplishments lately, so I’ll just promote myself today.
Before this scandal broke I was asked to sit on a panel to discuss what was then a big debate amongst conservatives called “American Greatness.” The Lewinsky scandal squashed that conversation like a bug. But my remarks have now been reprinted some fifteen months later. You can find them in the latest issue of DoubleThink, the journal of the America’s Future Foundation (http://americasfuture.org). Check out the other stuff at the site, too. They’re a good bunch of people and they always invite me to happy hour.