Tuesday’s string of moderate Republicans taking pro-impeach stances leads all around. Both the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal quote a White House aide’s reaction: “The bottom’s falling out.” The New York Times says President Clinton’s impeachment by the House is now a “near certainty.” The bunker’s eye view that the Los Angeles Times gets is, “If it isn’t over, it’s pretty close to over.” Taking account of the latest vote announcements, the NYT and the WP both calculate that to stave off impeachment, Clinton would need to win over nearly all of the undecided House Republicans. USA Today says he’d have to win over more than half. The Nation’s Newspaper also carries this assessment by Betty Friedan of who’s behind the push to impeachment: “A bunch of dirty old white men.”
The consensus is that the most damaging announcement for Clinton was that of Rep. Jack Quinn, who had previously said he would oppose impeachment. The WP agrees, saying that Quinn’s stance was “most crushing.” The LAT explains that Quinn was more than just one vote, because he had been working with the White House to try to persuade fellow moderates to oppose impeachment. The Post attributes Quinn’s unanticipated change of heart to arm-twisting by Tom DeLay.
The papers describe various last minute scenarios being floated at the White House, none of them having yet obtained presidential imprimatur: a televised address, and various alternative punishments, including the proposal of a post-impeachment Senate censure made in yesterday’s NYT by Bob Dole. The WSJ says the Republican leadership of the Senate has little appetite for Dole’s deal. The LAT makes this a little more plain, quoting a Senate GOP aide’s harsh comment about Dole: “Those who have the power make the decisions. Those who had the power, but lost it, have no right even to kibitz.” There’s also the idea floated by Rep. Michael Castle for censure plus a $2 million fine. (Jeez, why didn’t liberals ever think like this? They could have stuck Nixon for the bill for the extra four years of Vietnam he gave us.)
The LAT front runs a piece about a comment made by Bill Clinton while he was still in the Middle East yesterday that has caused an uproar in Israel. The episode is also covered inside at the NYT. Clinton said that he’d been moved by the tears of three little Palestinian girls who begged him to help free their fathers, imprisoned for murdering Israelis, as he also was by meeting the children of slain Israelis. Israeli newspapers exploded in condemnation and Benjamin Netanyahu was stupefied by the comment. One Israeli’s observation in the LAT seems particularly insightful: the root of the firestorm is that Israelis are sensing that for the first time, in American eyes the Palestinians are now being viewed as on their level.
The NYT editorial page is given over to a full-page argument for voting no on impeachment. The Times favors censure over impeachment because it says the latter in Clinton’s case assaults the Constitution in that it threatens what it calls “the jewel in the crown of American democracy,” an orderly succession of presidential power. Meanwhile, opposite the editorial page (yes, that’s what “op-ed” stands for), Maureen Dowd, noting Bill Clinton’s recent comment that he could not, even to avoid impeachment, say he lied under oath, because that would be a lie, has a question: Why stop lying now, when a lie could save your Presidency? Today’s Papers’ advice to President Clinton goes just a touch further. Why not make the following confession to your accusers in Congress: “Everything I say about the Lewinsky matter is a lie.” This statement if true, is false and if false, is true, and hence has befuddled philosophers from Aristotle to Wittgenstein. It would be great fun to see, say, an ex-exterminator from Texas take a crack at it.
Today’s WSJ front page offers a lengthy example of what the “free” in free press means. If you were an unmarried forty-something very beautiful woman named Lesley Friedman who had cashed out her lawyer temp business for $21 million and had moved to Palm Beach but couldn’t get a husband, you could pay for one of those tiny little ads in New York or the New York Review of Books. But ugh, then you’d be getting asked out by assistant professors or public interest lawyers who didn’t make partner somewhere. Far better to have the WSJ write an endless front-page piece on you, describing your new $3,000 dating outfits, your likes and dislikes and the earning power of your ideal mate. But it’s not clear how much mail you’re going to get from the article. After all, you let them quote your theory of dating: “The cost of buying a woman dinner at one of the fancy New York restaurants she prefers is about $150. ‘A high-class prostitute probably costs $500 per, ah, an encounter, whatever you call it….These guys are getting off cheap’ if they expect sex after just one or two dates.” Good luck, Lesley–you’ve put the high back in high maintenance.