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But really,how can you root for the Democrats when it's they who inflicted these thingson us? Would anyone who listened to White House spokesman Joe Lockhart for morethan five minutes be sincerely sorry to have the President ridden out of townon a rail? Lockhart attacked the House impeachment managers last week for seekingto influence the senators holding the trial. "This is a process for theSenate to work out," says Lockhart. "We don't believe it'sbeen particularly appropriate the way the House has tried to interject themselvesinto the process." Okay, Joe?I'm with you on principle. But,you know, if there's any bigger affront to the principle of separationof powers than the House trying to influence the Senate, it's the presidencytrying to influence the Senate.
There is,in fact, no principle here: The President and his defenders are just resortingto any-trick-in-the-book hardball, and calling it principle. Democratsbacking Clinton, for instance, have been planning a "conflict of interest"motion against the Hutchinson brothers of Arkansas, since Tim in the Senatewill hear arguments from Asa in the House. What kind of crap is that? What aboutCalifornia Senator Barbara Boxer, the President's sister-in-law? Shouldshe be excluded, too?

Then certainSenate Democrats objected to the devious way Republicans have used innuendoand uncorroborated testimony about the five "Jane Does" who claimvariously to have been assaulted, harassed and intimidated by the President.Republican leaders, Dems complained, had brought their wavering moderates intothe Ford Office Building in the waning days of the House proceeding and shownthem a whole dossier-ful of material that was not included in the Starr report.The Democrats are right: These decisions should be made on a publicly availablebody of evidence. It's too bad those same Dems don't want to admitthe now-publicly available indictment of Julie Hiatt Steele, the friend of KathleenWilley who is accused of making false statements to the independent counsel?apparentlyat the request of Democratic operatives. And it's too bad the Democratsweren't so preoccupied with rules of evidence during the Clarence Thomastrial. Back then, their most serious charge against Orrin Hatch and (their own)Joe Biden was that the Senate Judiciary Committee had failed to relyon unsubstantiated ax-grinding from Angela Wright, Susan Hoerchner and a numberof Anita Hill's other crank friends.


A largereason why such a tort as minor as an Oval Office hummer has led us all theway to the brink of impeachment is that the President's people are nottrustworthy enough to negotiate with. I could make?and have frequentlymade?a principled defense of the President against the depredations ofthe independent counsel. But when you realize you're defending people withno principles, it begins to wear you out.


Especiallysince the White House is on a sexual witch-hunt of its own. All week the President'speople were trying to keep stories of Bobbie Ann Williams, the Arkansas prostitutewho claims to have had the President's love child, out of the dailies.And while there was some leakage?on Leno, in the Drudge Report, and theWashington Times?they mostly succeeded. (It's a good illustrationof the symmetrical corruption in town: While I haven't talked to a singleRepublican who discounts the possibility that the story is a kook fabrication,I haven't talked to a single Democrat who dismisses the possibility thatit's true.) Meanwhile, the same Clintonites were doing their best to filtertheir own sexual investigations, carried out by James Carville's friendLarry Flynt, into the mainstream papers. Tom Fielder of the Miami Heraldwas the only editor to remark on the scurrility of the whole enterprise. Forthis inquisition could be halted in seconds, of course, if the President werewilling to ask publicly that such blackguardry not be carried out in his name.But that's not what the President wants. In fact, Lockhart came out lastweek and said "all bets are off." Karen Tumulty of Time tookthat to mean the White House was now actively pursuing a blackmail strategy.She's probably right.


The dayafter Clinton got impeached in December I was sitting in a mall in Bethesdawhen I saw Lockhart come down the escalator with some shopping bags. This seemedrather noteworthy, less than 24 hours after the big day of his life, and I mentionedit at a Christmas party that afternoon.


"Isaw Joe Lockhart in Chevy Chase today," I said. "He seemed to be catchingup on his shopping."


"Yeah,what was he shopping for?" one of my friends said. "A soul?"
Pick Up Your Meth AlGore's position improves palpably as the days pass. Whatever happens withthe Senate trial, Democrats continue to treat it as a Republican suicide pact.So Dick Gephardt now feels virtually certain he'll be speaker in two years,and has quietly packed up his presidential campaign. Massachusetts Sen. JohnKerry, Gore's most credible challenger, continues to do nothing, an indicationhe won't run. So now Gore is beginning to use the propaganda potentialof the vice presidency, and he looks almost unbeatable.
One of theearly Clinton administration moves that I applauded was his decision, in theface of claims he was "soft on drugs," to defund the War on Privacy?excuseme, the War on Drugs?which at the time was costing $28 billion ayear. (Yes, I, too, used to think that figure was a misprint.) But as it turnedout, the enforcement-and-interdiction side of the War on Drugs was about theonly thing the President didn't approve of. The ceremonial side turnedout to be right up his alley. He appointed the lazy satrap Lee "Outta Town"Brown (now mayor of Houston), provided him with a huge office budget and a palaceguard and turned the office into a clearinghouse for political propaganda, whichit remains today.

Last Friday,Gore and Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey scheduled a talk on "methamphetamineissues" in Des Moines, IA. It's not the first time Gore has traveledto the Hawkeye State to speak on pressing meth matters, and I'm sure thishas nothing to do with the importance of the Iowa caucuses and everything todo with the urgency of the drug plague in the farmlands. It reminds me, forsome reason, that when I was living in Burlington, VT, in the mid-1980s, withBernie Sanders (now Vermont's socialist congressman) as mayor, the towndeclared itself a "sanctuary" for refugees from the Central Americanwars. Any bedraggled Guatemalan Indians or Salvadoran coffee pickers who straggledover the Canadian border were welcomed into municipal offices.


And theywere pretty adamant about that!
Dole-Time Religion ElizabethDole entered the presidential fray last week, quitting her job at American RedCross. She made several appearances on television, including one with Wolf Blitzer,on which she begged off a question on abortion by noting that?since she'sgoing to be head of the "apolitical" Red Cross for another eight hoursor so?she "would not be able to talk about political issues."Of course, Liddy's Red Cross activities didn't keep her from takingthe podium for that awful, grin-like-a-dashboard-doggy Oprah sessionat the Republican National Convention in 1996.
As she smiledher way through all these paid political ads masquerading as news features,no one saw fit to mention Liddy's reputation around town as one of themost high-strung, anal and berserk-with-ambition bosses in the capital. Particularlyquaint was a little write-up the BBC gave her on its online service. Her presidentialcampaign, the Beeb cheerily opined, "certainly will be more rough-and-tumblethan her last winning campaign, for May Queen at Duke in 1958." Which showshow little the Brits know about American womanhood. It's hard to thinkof a more surefire recipe for ruthlessness than having several dozen daddy'sgirls at an elite Southern university battle it out over who gets declared prettiest.

Lackingany understanding of the gender gap, Republicans are looking for a deus ex machinato close it. No one with an IQ over freezing thinks Liddy Dole can get electedpresident, but if she makes a strong enough showing in the primaries, Republicansare bound to worry that they'll lose a lot of women votes if they don'tat least pick her as veep. Still, the very Republicans who know her best can'tseem to manage a single good word for her. Several senators prattled on aboutwhat a great "First Man" the Viagra-enhanced Bob Dole would make.(Oh, sure. Here's a guy who two years ago ran as the Last Strong SilentType, and today is walking around with a face winched up so tight by cosmeticsurgery that he looks like some stage Mongol from a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta.)Newt Gingrich was scarcely better, managing only to praise Liddy as the "firstwoman, I think, to have served two presidents." And anyway, I don'tknow about that. Weren't there a couple who served JFK and Walter Ulbricht?


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