Saturday, July 14, 2007
BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the Journal.
Impeachment...the word feared and loathed by every sitting president is back. It's in the air and on your computer screen, a growing clamor aimed at both President Bush and Vice-President Cheney.
This week's news only agitated the clamor. The president acknowledged that someone in his administration did leak the name of a CIA agent to the press, but he said let's move on — even as he refused to let his former White House counsel testify to Congress about political influence at the Justice Department.
So the talk in Washington was of executive arrogance. All the more so as the Democratic House voted to withdraw US troops from Iraq by next spring despite a threat of veto by President Bush. A public opinion poll from the American Research Group reports that more than four in ten Americans — 45 per cent-favor impeachment hearings for President Bush and more than half -54 per cent — favor putting Vice President Cheney in the dock.
Are these the first tremors of a major shock wave…or just much ado about nothing? First, let's take a look at the last time a president found himself fighting off an impeachment campaign. It happened less than a dozen years ago. And what was the issue:
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky...
BILL MOYERS: But he did. And even after that denial in early 1998, President Clinton lied again seven months later - this time under oath to a federal grand jury. But that very evening he had a change of heart.
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: "Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong….I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that."
BILL MOYERS: For one powerful Republican member of Congress, an apology wasn't enough. Tom Delay, then the majority whip of the House, convinced speaker Newt Gingrich and Republican leaders that Clinton's lie called for nothing less than removing the president from office - impeachment. Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr was commissioned to gather the evidence. Starr eventually sent 36 boxes of evidence to the capitol. They catalogued his investigation of Clinton's finances, a sexual harassment suit filed by Paula Jones and sting operations mounted by the prosecutor to uncover the details of the Lewinsky affair. Nearly 500 pages summarizing the report were quickly posted on the internet. For the next month, the house judiciary committee waded through the report. What the case meant depended largely on party affiliation. Democrats insisted it all came down to lying about sex.
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Labels: Bill Moyers Journal