THEY JUST DON'T get it. Not the radical right. Not the press. Not Tom or Dan or Peter or the other talking heads. And certainly not the political denizens of the talk shows, all of whom are convinced that if you don't follow their brand of logic, you are doomed to eternal damnation in that purgatory of the nonbelievers. They can't figure out why "the people" are indifferent to Bill Clinton or want to see him finish his term despite his personal habits.
My life experience tells me that most Americans fall into the category of the great unwashed, somewhere between moderate-conservative and moderate-liberal. And the truth is that we Middle Americans have no voice -- the politicians don't seem to care about us.
Modestly, I will take up the mantle of spokesman for Middle America. In the immortal words of everybody's best friend, Linda Tripp, "I am you."
First, my credentials. I am a registered Democrat in a state of minor Republican opposition. (Good Lord, GOP, if you couldn't get it together this year, you never will.)
I'm 57, and in the nine presidential elections since I reached voting age, I have voted Republican five times. I'm probably the most truthful man in America, because I voted for Richard M. Nixon twice and I'm one of the few who'll admit it. I'm a fiscal conservative who believes in the supply-side and trickle-down economic theories. Our economy does fine, I think, as long as you don't mess with it too much and let people willing to take risks make some money.
I don't like handguns, and I'll never see a reason to allow private citizens to own assault weapons. We no longer have a need for private militias, and it no longer takes days for Wyatt Earp to get to your house when there's a break-in. I don't condone abortions -- they're too easy to get -- but I support a woman's right to have one. Being anti-abortion and pro-choice is not an oxymoron. These are examples of single-issue politics, which I deplore. Life is filled with complexities. Everyone does not feel the same way that I do about every issue. That's one of the great things about democracy; it's a compromise.
But back to the subject. The real problem is that nobody but us Middle Americans understand who the real victim is. It's not Bill. He deserves whatever he gets. To quote Nixon, "I gave them the sword and they twisted it with relish." And it's certainly not Clinton's pursuers. No, the victim is us. Our votes spoke in the last year's Congressional elections. Let's see if I can put it into words somebody understands: Clinton's political enemies have taken away our vote -- the morons. Forget partisanship. Forget Republican or Democrat. Slick Willy avoided military service in Vietnam, and he's an adulterer, a pot-smoker (even if he didn't inhale) and a liar. And we knew it before the 1992 presidential election. And we knew it when he sought re-election four years later, and during last year's mid-term elections.
Before you talk about what technically constitutes perjury and what the meaning of "is" is, think about a prosecutor who'd accept tainted evidence -- secret tape recordings that appear to have been illegally obtained. Independent counsel? Yeah, right. No, this is about a group of people with power well beyond the strength of their actual numbers out to unseat the president. At least they no longer call themselves the Moral Majority, because they are far from a majority, and thanks to that other great American, pornographer Larry Flynt, we know that they're not particularly moral, either.
"It's not about sex"? Sure. In the words of H.L. Mencken, "When someone says, 'It's not about the money,' it's about the money." This is, and always has been, a lynch mob in search of a crime.
Every administration in my lifetime, and probably every one before that, has had a controversy that angered the president's political enemies and sometimes just about the entire electorate. Consider this:
FDR's pact with Stalin led to 50 years of Cold War.
Truman fired MacArthur.
Ike laid the groundwork for our long involvement in Vietnam.
Kennedy escalated the U.S. military presence in Vietnam and made a secret deal with Khrushchev to end the Cuban missile crisis.
LBJ misled Congress and the American people about Vietnam and plunged us deeper into the quagmire.
Nixon promised to end the war, then secretly bombed Cambodia and called on the White House plumbers to plug leaks and burglarize Democratic headquarters.
Ford pardoned Nixon.
Jimmy Carter couldn't get the hostages out of Iran.
Reagan was up to his neck in the Iran-contra scandal.
A president's political enemies can always make a case for impeachment. But when they actually impeach a president for partisan reasons, they've not only gone beyond the rule of law but beyond the will of the people. I'm not talking about public opinion as expressed by the latest poll, I'm talking about the will of the people expressed at the ballot box -- the only one that's really valid.
You want Bill gone? Good. Me, too. You want Al Gore in his place? I don't. But, instead of trying to undo the will of the people, how about just giving us someone we can vote for, for a change?
Jay Sweren is an occasional contributor to The Sun. He is vice president of sales and marketing for Universal Bindery Inc. in Prince Frederick, Md.
Pub Date: 02/07/99