Conservative Republican influences to blame for interminable political circus plaguing Washington

After the House of Representatives impeached President Clinton in December, I was incensed. I found myself angry and disappointed with our political system. It was quite obvious that the President of the United States had become a victim of a concerted partisan effort to remove him from office. Although a President lying about an inappropriate sexual relationship is anything but honorable, it was private and should have no bearing on how he performs his tasks as President. The Republicans in the House, however, seemed not to have much else to do and so occupied themselves by elevating a man’s private sex life to a matter of state.

The actions of Congressional Republicans, like Tom DeLay, Henry Hyde and Tim Burton, are deplorable. They have proved to have a complete disregard for not only the will of the people, but the Constitution and the political stability of the nation. Because their egregious behaviour is destroying the very fabric of American democracy, they should be the ones removed from office, not a well-liked President who is trying to remain on task.

As Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee said, this is beginning to look like a coup d’état. The Republicans have taken a minuscule issue, lying about sex, and blown it up as if it were a high crime such as bribery or treason — which the Constitution directly refers to as the Constitutional standard for impeachment. The GOP’s aim: to overthrow the President of the United States. Unfortunately, their efforts have proven successful so far, because they got their wish: the impeachment of the President on the grounds of unconstitutional fellatio. All of this is amounting to the anti-democratic removal of a twice-elected, popular Head of State who has presided over a period of amazing national prosperity and growth.

Now this week the Senate will sit as a jury in a trial of the President. They will spend their time digging through the many unsavory details of the Starr Report, instead of working to save Social Security, improve our decrepit public schools, or find ways to alleviate the enormous financial burdens caused by rising college costs.

Senate leaders have decided to formally open a trial, but despite a bipartisan compromise passed on Friday, there is still some confusion as to what kind of trial will take place. Democrats and reasonable Republicans have advocated a quick and speedy trial without witnesses, expecting that a conviction (which needs the approval of two-thirds of the Senate) could never happen. They contend that a long trial is not worth the national pain and humiliation.

The dominant, extreme conservative wing of the Republican Party, though, has been pushing for a long trial. They envision a scenario where the House impeachment managers call a host of witnesses to testify before the Senate. For example, they would like Monica Lewinsky to explicitly describe her intimate encounters with the President in televised proceedings. (And these are the same people who are concerned about too much sex on TV?) A long trial with a parade of witnesses would become a soap opera circus that would pervert our most prestigious and powerful political institutions. The Senate should at all costs avoid a long, drawn-out saga that would paralyze the nation.

Such a long ordeal would intensify an already idiotic political situation. The last thing this country wants and needs is an unpopular, arguably unconstitutional process that would temporarily stall any government activity for the time being and leave an indelible stain on American democracy. The best solution would have been to drop this matter months ago and let the Clintons deal with it in private. But the Republicans’ obvious disregard for our Constitution and our nation’s prestige has shown through in their constant pursuit of the President over the past few months. Their selfish hate for the president and his agenda has damaged our country. Our political institutions are scarred and the public is even more complacent and cynical than ever. The Republican obsession with the President’s personal life has also made America become a laughingstock on the world stage. The GOP should have listened to the American public a long time ago and forgotten about the matter altogether.

Unfortunately, though, the radical right has remained determined to destroy a President with a 73 percent approval rating and who was just voted the most admired man of 1998 (interestingly, his wife was voted most admired woman). They have taken it this too far and are suffering politically — a recent Gallup Poll gives the Republicans their lowest favorable rating in at least 14 years.

We cannot change what has happened in the past, so consequently we must have some sort of action by the Senate to bring this senseless matter to a close. The Senate’s best course of action is a quick and speedy trial. As planned, give the White House and impeachment managers each a day or two to present their cases before the Senate. After each side presents their case, allow a day of questioning from the Senators and then have a final vote — then it’s all done in just a couple of days. Everyone in America has been saturated with all the details of Zippergate, so there is also no need for witnesses. The whole world knows all too well what roles Clinton, Lewinsky and company played. Then televise the hearings, allowing the public to see if their Senators are representing them as they were elected to do. The Senate would probably (and appropriately) not remove the President from office for lying about oral sex.

Hopefully that would be the end of it. After the President has gone through a Senate trial, there would be no need for censure, because the shame of being only the second president ever impeached is quite a reprimand in its own right. The Republicans, hopefully, will listen to the people and stop their ignoble quest to destroy a popular President whom they hate so much. A quick and easy Senate trial that fails to produce a conviction would hopefully end this political fiasco. It is up to the Republicans, though, to bring us out of this mess. They should do so, if they intend finally to listen to the American people and have an actual concern for the stability of our distinguished democracy. Then, I hope, they will finally stop engaging in “the politics of personal destruction” and will put an end to their obsessive sexual McCarthyism.