Politics & Policy

Jonah’s Take On The (Political) World


Wow. The natives are going nuts. Their philosopher king is in danger. In defense these loyal savages are running amok, gnashing their teeth and biting their own flesh and sputtering their darkest fears. I will translate: If the King goes: the crops (the stock market) will die on the vine; the Outlanders (the GOP) will destroy our way of life (Whatever floats our boats); our children (the “Children”) will be hurt; our sacred sex rituals (consensual sex acts between mature adults) will be banned; the Mercantilist spice companies (Big Tobacco) will rule (be permitted to operate as legal yet heavily taxed enterprises). The Outlanders want to force (i.e., the law) our God-King (you know who) to disclose the details (the facts) of his Sacred Sex Ritual (one-way groping without intent to gratify) with his loyal (still not spilling the beans on obstruction) concubine (intern). We cannot permit this horror (justice) to be allowed to go any further.

It is almost impossible to adequately catalog the craven, bizarre, disingenuous, odd, loopy, and cynical desperate measures being taken in defense of the President. Herewith an impressionistic recounting of recent efforts:

THE WHITE HOUSE: Slouching Towards Splat

When you’re falling over a cliff any branch will do. The scramble for traction may not be dignified but, when facing the splat, “dignity shmignity.” A case in point: Craig Greg inconveniently keeps getting asked the question “Did the President lie?”

He keeps answering “The president has admitted he misled people…” “Yeah yeah,” Interrupt the interviewers, “did the president lie?

“He has admitted wrongdoing, he has admitted misleading the American people, we have admitted that reasonable people could conclude that the President lied….”

“Yes. But did he lie. The moderate Republicans want him to admit that he lied.”

And then Greg says with all sincerity “isn’t it a shame that something as solemn as impeachment rests on the difference between a couple words?” Good Golly miss Molly, what chutzpah. The President has relied on hair splitting and legalism perhaps more than any other public figure in American history. He has made that the name of the game. He is the one who has burned off the fat of common sense and trimmed the muscle of good faith to leave just the bone of exact, letter-perfect definitions. So, yes, yes, yes, that tiny little word matters. And to shame people, as Mr. Craig is doing, into thinking it doesn’t is despicable.

A more amusing spin was offered by MSNBC reporter David Geregory last night. According to Geregory, the White House isn’t even scrambling for branches on the way down. Instead they think the splat is a good thing. He suggested that “some sources inside the White House” view impeachment as a victory. How Reaganesque. The Gipper was fond of declaring victory and walking away when he really lost. But this? According to Geregory, these “Sources” believe that since the White House can win the trial in the Senate, impeachment offers a chance at vindication. Well, if they wanted to be thrown into that briar patch all along, why did they offer all of those witnesses who called a Senate trial a horror.

Politicians often think that politics is more important than it really is. But this was truly exceptional. Vice President Gore this morning observed, “we’re always at our best in this country when we recognize the dangers of excessive partisanship.” World War II, saving girls from the bottoms of wells, the Berlin Airlift. ERRRRR WRONG. I’m sorry, the correct answer to when is America at its best is… “when Republicans and Democrats alike can shake hands amiably over an omnibus spending bill.

THE INTELLECTUALS:Are You Sure 50 C.C.s of Thorzeine is Enough?

Yesterday I wrote about the rally at NYU against impeachment. But that was merely culled from newspaper reports. Last night I had the opportunity to watch the event on C-SPAN. If they run it again, you simply must watch it. Seriously, these are considered the greatest minds, they control the commanding heights (Lenin’s term) of our culture. You should know what they think.

While most of the people looked normal, intellectually it was akin to the cantina scene in Star Wars. I am sure some of them in their calmer moments are really quite sensible and intelligent. But, wow. I mean, wow. Ron Dworkin of NYU Law School argued that the impeachment clause was a “nuclear bomb” in the Constitution. The man has serious problems with democracy. He said, “nothing can stop [Congress] from doing it. If they have the votes and the ambition” they can impeach. “No court” he ominously intoned, “can review their declaration, their findings, their procedures or their verdict. No public outcry no matter how massive can stay their hand.”

Guess what, Ron, it’s even worse than you thought. If the Congress has “the votes and the ambition” they could…vote for tax cuts too!!!! Ahhhhhh!

It’s called democracy. Get over it.

Then there’s Blanche Cook the author of a biography on Eleanor Roosevelt.

She is a teacher mind you.

“There is no other reason to be here unless we are going to re-ignite our democratic activist movement. This is the only reason to be here!” She really means it. She also really doesn’t like the Christian Coalition and the Right Wing. “These filthy mean-minded swiney people,” she sneered. “We are really looking at theocrats who are having a coup, my students laugh when I call it a ‘coup over a cock’ but that’s what it is.”

But then she really gets cooking. “We have to mobilize like we mobilized in the war in Vietnam, like we did against slavery [many cheers on this point], like we did when we mobilized for civil rights. This is about race and Maxine Waters is right when she says it’s about crack cocaine in the neighborhood. That’s the issue. That’s the only issue…..”

Let’s tip toe backwards from this lady very slowly so she doesn’t even notice. I don’t even want her to know I exist.

THE ACTORS: A Study in Witlessness

Perhaps my favorite actor, Robert De Niro, is calling Congressmen at the behest of the White House. James Garner of my beloved Rockford Files has a letter to the editor in today’s New York Times. Be careful not to get capsized by the groundswell that will cause. Paul Newman says in the latest Vanity Fair that the woman he most admires is “Linda Tripp above the waist and Lucianne Goldberg below the waste” (all right everybody, let’s break up into teams and figure out what THAT means).

And then there’s Alec Baldwin.

Ah, Alec. The man who wants to launch a new liberal dynasty of Baldwins to replace the Kennedys (shudder). On Conan O’Brien Baldwin blew up. Just as reasonable people could come to the conclusion that Clinton lied, reasonable people could come to the conclusion that Baldwin was having a cocaine induced hysterical blow-out. Part of it was probably an act, but there was much sincerity too. Baldwin essentially said that in a better country we would march on Washington and stone Henry Hyde to death. Then we would go to his family’s home and kill them too. “What’s wrong with this country!?!” he screamed. Imagine for a moment if Charlton Heston said that about Clinton. But really, that was in some ways less insane than his comments at the NYU rally. Besides there was comedy on Conan. At the rally Baldwin was somber and serious. So serious in fact he lost the word “consistency.” Instead, perhaps to make him sound more somber and serious, he kept using the word “homogeneity” when discussing Republican hypocrisy. “I would respect Republicans more if there was more homogeneity to their thinking.” Whatever.

His take on what is going on was fascinating. Let’s see, it’s not a puritan sex-obsessed right wing — “filthy mean-mined swiney people,” to use Ms. Cook’s formulation. It’s not a concerted effort to cheat the election or destroy the right to privacy. No, according to Baldwin, it’s not even payback for Watergate.

It’s the insurance companies.

Like General Jack D. Ripper in Dr Strangelove, who thought that everything came down to the purity of our bodily fluids, Baldwin has actually gotten to the core of things. Oh, Baldwin is very angry with Clinton for dismantling the anti-trust system (when did I miss that, by the way?) but at least Clinton let the issue of health care “out of the barn.” The insurance companies, Baldwin earnestly argued, have never forgiven Clinton. The insurance companies, Baldwin says as if he was talking about the Bildenburgers, are “very powerful institutions.” That’s what this is “all about” argues Mr. Baldwin. This is revenge. This is payback. This is what it is all about.

Ah hah. Okay. I think I need to be going now. Sure thing Mr. Baldwin. No please you stay here. Insurance companies huh? Didn’t know that….interesting…. Um nurse, maybe Mr. Baldwin would like to play with some of Ms. Cook’s crayons?

ACADEMIA: How much is tutition at Harvard again?

And then, of course, there are the people. Yesterday at Harvard there was a rally in support of the President. The New York Times runs a picture today on page A23. In the picture there’s a man in what appears to be a Harvard jacket. He is holding up a giant sign. It reads, “Tom Delay’s Coup-de-TA impeachment.” Nice spelling, jerky. And this is the guy who’s probably going to be deciding what the interest rates are in 20 years.


How Tom “the Hammer” Delay is the most dangerous man in America, and why the Press missed it until now…


Send your dollars now.


The Latest