Monday, January 16, 2006


Everybody knows that the Democrats failed to make their case against Alito in the Judiciary Committee hearings, right? It's somewhat similar to November 1998, when everybody knew that Republican losses in the midterm elections meant that the GOP hadn't made its case for impeachment.

We know the GOP didn't give a damn and impeached Clinton anyway, but I just want to remind you what the immediate reaction was:

November 6, 1998

Judiciary Chairman Asks Clinton to Admit or Deny 81 Findings

Forging ahead with an impeachment inquiry that most Americans say Congress should drop, Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., asked President Clinton Thursday to say flatly whether he lied under oath, tampered with witnesses or obstructed justice.

In an 11-page letter, Hyde, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked Clinton to admit or deny 81 selected findings gleaned from the independent counsel's 445-page report on the president's affair with Monica Lewinsky....

Hyde said the president could speed the process by not disputing the findings. But many questions are pointed and ask Clinton to admit to accusations that he and his advisers have strenuously denied since the independent counsel Kenneth Starr sent his scathing report to Congress. For example, question No. 20:

"Do you admit or deny that you gave false and misleading testimony under oath when you stated during your deposition in the case of Jones v. Clinton on Jan. 17, 1998, that you did not know if Monica Lewinsky had been subpoenaed to testify in that case?" ...

Hyde denied the questions constituted a witch hunt. "It would be a witch hunt if we served him with a subpoena to come in, get under oath and testify to a cross-examination from all members," Hyde said. "That would be pushing the envelope. We're doing it in the most genteel way."...

Yup -- electorally they'd screwed up, as the entire political establishment noted, and yet they came right back that week with a new, obnoxious, full-bore attack on Clinton. Just to prove they still could. Please note that the attack was surprising, and therefore headline-grabbing; it was in an unexpected form, which helped make it newsworthy.

The linked article is from The New York Times. Note what the conventional wisdom was in the days after the election:

But the shock waves from Democratic gains in the midterm election on Tuesday have injected new doubts and uncertainty into the impeachment process, lawmakers said Thursday....

With the possibility of impeachment growing dimmer, attention is shifting to a group of 10 committee moderates who have been exploring alternative punishment, including censure....

It was actually believed at that moment that the election results meant the SOBs probably couldn't impeach.

But Republicans just pressed on. And they got their victory -- not against Clinton, but against Democrats ever since, by branding Dems as the party of immorality.

A lesson for Senate Democrats now?

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