The Magazine


Feb 1, 1999, Vol. 4, No. 19 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

ON JANUARY 8, 1999, the United States Senate, in all its dignity, solemnly swore . . . And talk about great TV! Especially when Trent Lott got tongue-bungled and said that the chief justice "will now administer the oaf." Anyway, the United States Senate, in all its dignity . . . If we don't count Sen. Barbara Boxer who was wearing a brown pants suit perfect for Breakfast Bingo at Wal-Mart. And what's with Rehnquist's robe? Adidas stripes on the sleeves, big old zipper down the front -- it looks like a novelty beach wrap for vacationing gospel choirs. Nevertheless, on January 8, the United States Senate . . . got free souvenir "Oath Book" ball-point pens with "United States" misprinted as "United States." Mmmmm. Senators Bunning and Mikulski tried to return theirs. They are good-government types, unwilling to receive the smallest perquisite at public expense. Either that or they can spell. However, as I was saying, on January 8, the United States Senate solemnly swore to render an impartial verdict in the impeachment trial of President Clinton, and now I fear they actually might do it.

Senators, don't! Please fall into vicious partisan bickering instead. Mix drain cleaner into the coatroom jar of toupee glue if that's what it takes to bring tempers to a boil. Make the bar at the Palm restaurant a state and elect James Carville to your chamber. Hide Sen. Thurmond's Viagra. Force Sen. Kennedy to skip lunch. Give Sen. Byrd's history of the Senate to Michiko Kakutani for a snide review in the New York Times. Call witnesses, call an endless list of witnesses. Call Mick Jagger, he's slept with everybody. Call Dr. Laura Schlessinger. She knows Bill's type. Call me. In 1992, in Little Rock, Arkansas, I saw Gov. Clinton consume a jumbo order of fries in less than a minute, and I will testify under oath to his voracious appetites. But please don't stop the fun.

The Clinton impeachment is a thing of manifold splendor, and what's most bright and shining is that it has no downside.

If 67 senators say so, we are rid of a half-cracked slab of sophomoricism, a moral midden heap, ethical slop jar and backed-up policy toilet, a blabby, overreaching nooky-mooch and masher. The dirty, selfish pest will be removed from office.

If the president is only censured, we are spared a busy, silly lickspittle puffed with all the bad ideas available at Harvard. That self-serious poop Al Gore will not be chief executive.

If the Republicans are spanked in the voting booth for prosecuting Bill, they'll be getting the hair-brush for the wrong offense. But they deserve a wallop on general principles -- or, rather, lack thereof. What a feckless, timid, time-serving revolution that was in 1994, as if the sans-culottes had stormed the Bastille just to get themselves jobs as prison guards.

If the Democrats are scorned for pitiful cynicism in rallying to a man who treats their principles of liberalism like he treats his bonds of matrimony, even better. Those who go toad-eating at the table of Gallup deserve heartburn.

And if it's the American people who are ultimately punished -- well, have you checked the American people lately? Listened to popular music? Watched prime time TV? Been to the mall? Seen the hoi-polloi supersizing it at drive-thru windows in their carport-safari SUVs? Observed the masses waddling into airports, business offices, and churches dressed in drooping sweats or fuchsia warm-up suits or mainsail-sized Bermuda shorts, each with a mobile phone in one ear and a Walkman in the other and sucking Diet Pepsi through a straw? They could use a time-out.

Why should we rush to discover what the conclusion of impeachment will be when every possible outcome is so grand? Let's have another year of great expectations. Maybe two.

Alas, there are those who think differently. They decry the expense of the special prosecutor's investigations. But when has the federal government spent millions in such an entertaining fashion? Certainly not by funding PBS. True, there was the shuttle launch when NASA shot an aging politician into space. But then NASA decided to bring him back.

Some critics of impeachment claim that the office of president will be diminished to a mere custodial role. Yes! George W. Bush report to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and sign for your mop and broom.

Other naysayers argue that America's most talented politicians will be scared away from careers in public service. But the private sector will no doubt be able to put America's most talented politicians to use -- making unsolicited dinnertime telemarketing calls.

It's said that the press has been discredited. This is a blind item planted by Jerry Springer because Ted Koppel has been swiping the more depraved guests.