Thanks to the almost hourly network tracking polls, we know that even as the public grows more assured every day that the President has committed perjury in a civil suit and before a grand jury, large majorities continue to affirm his performance as President. Anyone who tells a pollster he agrees with both notions - that Bill Clinton is a liar, a cheat, and a perjurer and is doing a great job - is either amoral or a complete idiot.
While elected officials of both parties try to regain bipartisan composure after the Clinton videotape release, the rest of us should bluntly dissent from the amoral majority and demand: please stop with all this Clintonian baloney about "rushing to pre-judgment." We've lived through eight months of ridiculous lying on this matter, and the release of more evidence sets the President's multiple perjuries in concrete. This is not the time to go soft on crime. Unless, of course, you're part of the 89-percent pro-Clinton press, in which case it's full steam ahead with equivocations.
Exhibit A: The other night, Ted Koppel concluded a one-hour "Nightline" special on the Clinton video with this self-flagellating sermon: "If these last few days are to be any guide, a Congressional committee all too eager to surrender its own responsibilities to the court of public opinion, which will render its judgment after dining on the raw meat of unprocessed allegations. And finally, of course, those of us in the media, who now have the means and the inclination to get it all out at the speed of light, even though none of us has yet learned to think that fast."
That spurs three observations. First, the central facts of the Lewinsky scandal - that the President had sex with an intern in the Oval Office and lied under oath about it - are hardly "unprocessed allegations." They are, instead, perhaps the most processed, regurgitated, relentlessly documented allegations in the annals of modern scandal. And Bill Clinton has admitted they're true, too.
Second, if the members of the House Judiciary Committee have recklessly surrendered responsibility to public opinion, then why are the media encouraging this with hour-by-hour temperature-taking?
Third, what arrogance is it that Mr. Koppel insists that the transmission of the independent counsel's evidence directly to the people is a travesty. Reporters would rather see all information approved through them first, where their filter and their perspective will be awarded to the masses. How so?
Exhibit B: After CBS concluded their live telecast of the videotape, sudden Luddite Dan Rather insisted that Bill Clinton is a victim of newfangled technology: "This has been a historic day. History offers little guide in such a moment as this. Presidents have been in awkward spots before, but only recently could technology make witnesses of the entire nation, indeed, the entire world. And even when technology advanced in capability, it has usually retreated before any scenes so personal, so potentially embarrassing, and indeed, dangerous to the nation as this one."
Rather added that if Warren Harding or FDR had
adulterous affairs, "no satellite beamed his words across the country,
around the world, and literally beyond the stars. Even Richard Nixon's
criminal coverups of a
widespread criminal conspiracy were recorded only on audiotape. We have come a long way. Technology has given us power and speed, but now we must provide our own wisdom and judgment." The first sign of Rather's lack of judgment is his deploring one "criminal coverup" while bemoaning the exposure of another.
How very odd. Rather is part of the chorus which has (correctly) noted the President's mastery of television - yet now all of a sudden Clinton is a victim of television's technology? How may times have we heard journalists maintain their innocence by admonishing that the message, not the messenger, is to blame? Yet with Clinton it's now the opposite. Clearly, any candidate offering himself for President today knows the intrusive requirements of today's media. Clinton has long known and exploited them, but in this case he blatantly embarrassed himself with his own conduct, and no satellite transmission can add much to that.
Exhibit C: On "NBC Nightly News" hours after Rather, Tom Brokaw editorialized: "The difficult days ahead would be well served by two elements missing up to this point: a viable political center to serve as a common ground for the extremes and a little discretion to serve as a substitute for the feeding frenzy in a debate of this magnitude." Mr. Brokaw, if it's "extreme" to oppose the "solution" of the "center" - a quick, sleazy pardon for a felonious President - I'll take that label any day over wallowing in a "common ground" with no principle except loving Bill Clinton until the bitter end.