Politics & Policy

Dignity, Shmignity: Let’s Get to The Witnesses; Niggardly Niggardly; The Infamous Interview; Potpourri Friday


I am really, really confused. And, it’s not simply because I dig the fumes from changing the toner cartridge for my printer. Stick with me:

The House Democrats gnashed their teeth and rent their clothing like sinners not allowed on Noah’s Ark because they weren’t allowed to register full expression of their consciences and vote for censure — really tough censure.

Now, presumably that censure meant something, right? Presumably when they say he has disgraced the office of the president, etc. that is supposed to refer to some actual transgression, right? What could it be? Well, presumably it didn’t just refer to President Clinton’s inappropriate relationship which “began as a friendship,” right? After all, every single Clinton defender has been in a contest to see who can say “it’s just sex,” “these are just sex lies,” “this is all about a consensual relationship,” “he was simply acting on the very human desire to spare his family pain.” I’d do a Nexis search of prominent Democrats and pundits who’ve spewed this morally minimizing twaddle, but I’d get a file bigger than the Beijing Braille phone book. Virtually the entire Democratic party doesn’t mind that the marquee outside the White House says: “Live!!! Footnote 210 XXX All Oral Action!!!”

So be it.

I always assumed that the burning desire to censure the president, the desire that forced the Democrats to walk out of the House for the first time in over a decade, the desire which when squelched forced them to hold a pep rally for the president, that that desire referred to something other than the president’s merely inappropriate ministering to a young ward in his care. Why would the Democrats be so adamant about censuring the president for “just sex”? They’re the ones who use the word “just.”

Since the president also committed obstruction of justice, perjury, abuse of power — you know, all that impeachable stuff — I figured the Democrats wanted to censure the president for those things, but not remove him from office. That, by the way, is a perfectly reasonable position to take. So now the Republicans want to essentially censure the president by having a “finding of fact.” I think it’s probably unconstitutional, alas, but that’s really the back-up argument for the Democrats. Their main argument is that that would be unfair. Well, wouldn’t censure be too? What is the difference? Unless all they want to do now is censure the president for his heretofore innocuous sex with an intern. I mean, what did censure ever mean then?

So then the Democrats bust out this argument, led by Minority Leader Daschle, that the reason they don’t want witnesses is that they want to salvage Monica Lewinsky’s dignity by not forcing her to talk about her experiences. Huh? Putting aside her shortfall of dignity which allowed her to do these things in the first place, Monica Lewinsky has been talking a blue streak to her ghost writer for her tell-all book; she’s been talking to Barbara Walters for her blockbuster international interview. Is there somehow more dignity to be found there than to be found in the hallowed halls of the Senate? Where are all of the spinners who denounced Linda Tripp for starting all of this because she wanted to write a book?

And, of course, there’s this argument we get from Tom Harkin and his straight- party-line voting colleagues that the Senate is committing a “travesty” by not allowing a camera into their deliberations. “The people have a right to know” is the mantra. Right to know what? Right to know how Senators excuse their own capitulation? Is it our right to hear the same tired arguments? Well, apparently. But at the same time it is not our right to hear from people who actually know what they’re talking about. People armed with, hmmmm, facts I think their called.

What a sham.


I believe I was the first columnist in the nation to write about the “niggardly” controversy tearing our capital apart. Now, everyone’s on board. Well, I love this scandal. It has turned over a rock of political correctness to show what squirms underneath. The mayor justifies Michael “niggardly” Howard’s resignation because the man did something akin to smoking in a refinery and he should have know the risks of a racial explosion. Talk about walking on eggshells. Now the racial Mau-Mauers know they can roll our new mayor in a heartbeat. If they can get him, because of their ignorance, to hang out a loyal staffer this early in his administration, we might as well have Marion Barry back.

But it gets better. Now it turns out that Michael Howard is gay. So now the gay groups are furious at the mayor for allowing their guy to quit. They bemoan the racial witch-hunt, etc. I suppose that’s fair, but it’s always fun to hear arguments from a group that is making them for all the wrong reasons. I am sure this is how some feminists feel when they hear troglodytes like me wax profane on the damage the president has done to our sexual-harassment laws, or the glee I feel when I hear feminists dismiss the most powerful man in the world’s sexual adventures with the help and lying about it. Of course, it turns out the real scandal is that Howard’s only professional experience prior to getting a job as the city’s public advocate was as a waiter and wine steward at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City. Can anyone say “gay quota”? — that is unless you think pouring Monica Lewinsky a nice Chablis is a résumé gem.


We here at the Goldberg Files tip line have been getting reams of e-mail (I guess you can’t get “reams” of e-mail. This is the problem with new technology and language. There are some very ancient metaphors built into our language which cannot keep up with new gadgets. After all, we don’t really dial a phone number anymore.) about the Lisa Meyers/Jane Doe #5 interview that NBC has killed. At this point, there’s nothing I can tell you that Matt Drudge hasn’t already written. It is interesting though, isn’t it? Nina Totenberg was a hero for running with salacious leaks about Clarence Thomas’s Coke can. Lisa Meyers is being squashed by a liberal White House for trying to report a story about sexual assault.


Corrections are few and far between this week. I’ve gotten a great deal of bad theological advice from people who argue that the Pope can in fact send people to Hell on a whim. He can’t — at least not anymore. What else? Oh, yeah. In an item earlier this week I referred to the XXth Amendment when I meant the XIIth Amendment. That was a copyediting oversight — sometimes I type “XX” instead of “??”. The editors down at the Central Command foolishly thought I knew what I was talking about. They won’t make that mistake again! But there will be more about the Twelfth and the pernicious Seventeenth Amendments next week. Oh yes, much, much more.

Only one person answered my quiz about the Star Wars reference in Boogie Nights. And he looked it up on the Internet Movie Database (a great site: www.imdb.com). So the Grand Prize of 10,000 cases of Duff Beer will go unclaimed. And that cheater who will never prosper will received the Alan Dershowitz punishment — a severe beating about the head and neck with a semi frozen northern pelagic fish.

But I am confused. I believed I had such an inordinately large number of Star Wars freaks amongst my readership that I was sure someone would have gotten it. So, maybe the answer is I have an inordinately low number of people who watch post-modern, highly ironicized meta-porn movies. But if that were true, you guys wouldn’t be following the Clinton scandals so closely. So I will give you a hint. In beginning of Boogie Nights, a stereo-store clerk tries to to sell a customer the “TK421 upgrade.” Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?


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