The Magazine

JOHN CONYERS'S CIRCUS

Nov 9, 1998, Vol. 4, No. 09 • By TUCKER CARLSON
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Ireland, in fact, was one of the few people in the room to suggest that Clinton might have done something wrong. Perjury? Obstruction? "Low misdemeanors, if they are anything at all," scoffed Abner Mikva. "If there's going to be any impeachment," said the Rev. Wendell Anthony, head of the NAACP's Detroit office and a recent guest at the White House prayer breakfast, "it ought to start with the Supreme Court." The Supreme Court? That's right, said Anthony. Turns out there are hardly any minority clerks. And that's both a high crime and a misdemeanor.


The mostly black crowd hooted approval at Anthony's remarks, as it did when he explained that a nation as racist as America -- a country that imprisons black men solely because they are black -- has no right to cast judgment on a president as committed to black causes as Bill Clinton, a president who "has spent more time in the nation of Africa than all the presidents heretofore put together." On the other hand, Anthony implied, maybe there's a connection. Maybe they're going after Clinton because he stands up for black folks. Maybe it's payback.


Maybe? No maybes about it, thundered former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Vernon Jarrett. "I am saturated with the consciousness of being African American," Jarrett explained, and "much of this is a rightwing conspiracy." In other words, a white conspiracy. A white racist conspiracy.


"Amen!" cheered the crowd. "That's right!"


At about this point, a pounding sound echoed through the PA system. Conyers's two sons, ages two and eight, had crawled into his lap and were playing with the microphone. The panel was still taking questions from the audience, but it seemed a good time to leave. A couple of other panelists got the same idea, and we headed out. William Miller, a good-natured law professor who teaches at Michigan, offered me a ride to the airport. A sexual-harassment expert from the University of Wisconsin joined us, and as we walked to Miller's minivan the two academics mulled over the symbolic meaning of the Lewinsky scandal. ("In a sense, they've turned him into a woman," the harassment expert said, "sexualized him so they can negate his leadership. It's very problematic.")


I'd talked to Miller earlier in the night and pegged him as a conventional liberal, smarter than most, and witty, but socially progressive and distrustful of the Right -- a garden-variety Clinton voter. That's how he'd seemed then. He seemed a lot different after three hours of pro-Clinton reeducation.


Actually, Miller explained once we got on the highway, "I can't stand the guy." Miller is something of an expert on dislike (his study of repugnance, The Anatomy of Disgust, was published last year), and he has an enormous and precise vocabulary for describing distaste. On the topic of Clinton, it failed him. The idea of voting for Clinton, Miller said, "makes me feel like I'm going to throw up."




Tucker Carlson is a staff writer for THE WEEKLY STANDARD.