That'swhy Republicans' blocking of a censure substitute, which would have allowedDemocratic senators to vilify the First Cad before sending him on his gallivantingway, is the strategic masterstroke of recent weeks. It shows the GOP is notnearly as tactically dimwitted as we've heretofore thought. And it locksSenate Dems into the foolhardy course of defending the President on the groundsof his innocence, which cannot be done. Yes, the independent counsel was overzealous. Yes, it's a shame all this started with an office affair that should benone of anyone's business. But there are laws against sexual harassmentand perjury and obstruction of justice, and the President?clear as day?broke'em. As long as they take it upon themselves to argue he didn't, theDemocrats are going to have to reenact Clinton's logical acrobatics daily.This is a recipe for highly unpredictable hearings.
When Houseimpeachment manager Henry Hyde mentioned last Wednesday that he'd liketo see President Clinton take the stand, Democrats treated it as a violation-in-spiritof the bipartisan Senate agreement not to discuss calling witnesses until bothsides had made their opening arguments. So Democrats caucused Thursday morning,and all of them emerged with exactly the same "spontaneous" reaction.Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota said: "I'm very disappointedand somewhat surprised? It certainly violates the spirit of the agreementwe all just agreed to last week." Pat Leahy of Vermont said: "I wasreally disappointed, actually saddened to see it... For the Republicans to allowit to suddenly break from that bipartisan effort and become a partisan thing,is very, very disappointing." Barbara Boxer of California said: "There'sgreat sadness in the Democratic Caucus today. We were so happy that we had reachedthat bipartisan consensus." Clearly the senators were all given their partisanmarching orders, which were to (1) angrily announce that their anger was actually"sadness" or "disappointment," not anger, and (2) collude,for the good of the party, in accusing the other party of partisan collusion.In the eyes of the nation, they looked like a bunch of devious turds.