This week, let's talk about adultery. About illicit blowjobs. And about perjury. Better yet, let's talk about a guy who does all of those things.
Let's pick a guy who not only cheated on his wife by getting multiple blowjobs (so he could say he hadn't "had sex" with the other woman), but also served her with divorce papers while she was sick with cancer.
And, for the perjury, let's pick a guy who lied about something serious. Same guy as above. A guy who lied under oath 13 times about his illegal use of campaign funds.
What? You don't want to talk about Newt Gingrich? Neither does Congress.
Okay. Let's just get dirty. Let's just talk about another naughty boy, Congressman Bob Barr. He's the sponsor of the "Defense of Marriage Act." He should be--he's fond of marriage. He's currently on his third. But, in 1992, someone videotaped him licking cream off a woman's breasts at a fund raiser. And the breasts didn't belong to his wife.
What? You don't want to talk about Bob either? Neither does Congress.
But you want to talk scandal, right? Okay. How about Henry Hyde? Helen Chenoweth? Dan Burton? No? You don't want to talk about them? Well, you're not alone. Neither does Congress.
All Congress wants to talk about is this bubba from Arkansas, this roadkill-munching middle-aged horndog who happens to be president and whom most people think is doing a pretty good job of it.
And Congress wants to do a little bit more than talk about him. They want to impeach him.
Not for adultery, they say. But for perjury. Lying under oath. A serious matter.
Well, it would be a serious matter if he'd lied about something serious. But he didn't. He lied about adultery. Who wouldn't, assuming they had, in fact, committed it? Isn't lying necessarily a part of adultery?
Unless we as a society are going to turn primitive and criminalize adultery, nothing criminal has happened here. A guy stepped out on his wife, lied about it, got caught and was forced to confess. Hardly the stuff of True Crime.
This is the fourth column I've written about Bill Clinton since blowjobgate first made headlines. When I told people I was about to write the third one, they groaned. When I told them I was about to write this one, the response was almost unanimous. "I'm sick of hearing about it. It's gotten old."
They're right. And I'm sick of hearing about it, too. And it has gotten old. For everyone outside of Congress, that is.
And it's because of the relentless right-wing witch hunt in Congress that another column like this has become necessary.
Congress supposedly exists to represent the will of the American people. The same is true of the president. And, judging by his popularity, the American electorate does feel that Clinton serves them, when he's not busy serving his hormonal urges.
But there can be no argument that Congress is representative of the American people. Even though 66 percent of the voters want this scandal to be over, want to forget Clinton's private life and let him get on with the job he's been hired to do, the Republicans in Congress won't listen. Desperate to make political capital of it, they're treating Clinton like he's a reincarnation of Richard Nixon, and trying to oust him from office.
Not only are they ignoring the wishes of the people who elected them, but they're failing to do their job in any way at all. While these little boys and girls were busy oohing and aahing over the president's sex life, a massive, complicated budget was passed--and most of them didn't know what the hell was in it. Weighing 40 pounds and standing 16 inches tall, it funds dozens of federal agencies and includes compromises on expenditures on such trivial matters as the International Monetary Fund, relief for struggling farmers, funding for the military and hiring teachers.
But why would our elected representatives trouble themselves with the budget when there's a dirty story to snigger at?
It's not only Democrats who're sick of it.
"Censure and Move On" is an organization made up of Democrats, Republicans and independents. Its goal is simple, and is summed up by its name: It wants Clinton to receive a censure for his behavior, and then be allowed to finish his final term as president.
The organization works entirely through the Internet (www.moveon.org), asking people to sign a petition to be presented to their representative in Congress. As of last week, it had collected 258,000 signatures across the country. In Arizona, it collected 4,629.
Kathe Morton is one of the Arizona organizers. Last Thursday she presented 615 signatures to Congressman Ed Pastor's press secretary. "That was a good number," she says. "The district covers South Phoenix and a chunk of Arizona going down to Yuma, and in those areas not that many people have Internet access. So it's a good turnout. The Internet is going to be a strong tool for democracy as more people participate."
Morton works as a research specialist at ASU, where she's also a student, studying for a master's degree in public administration. She's far from the blinkered Democratic party activist I'd imagined.
"I'm a registered Democrat, because you have to be a Democrat or Republican to vote in the primary," she says. But her sympathies incline toward the Libertarian party. And, in the gubernatorial election, she'll be voting Republican. "I'll have to vote for Hull because Johnson hasn't made a statement. He hasn't said what he stands for."
Morton got involved with the Censure and Move On campaign simply because "I thought it was important. The movement is totally nonpartisan, with a very simple message."
And the response from Congressmen?
"Ed Pastor's people were very nice. Maura Saavedra, his press secretary, said she was glad to hear from the other side. Pastor voted no to impeachment, but his position now is that he wants to go through the judicial process and move on. Now that it's started, he favors taking it to its conclusion."
Congressmen J.D. Hayworth and John Shadegg were also given petitions, but Matt Salmon was rather less cooperative. "He's blowing off the people," Morton says in exasperation. "He wouldn't even provide an assistant to meet with people. Everybody else at least offered to have someone meet us. Apparently, most of the Congressmen were out of the state this week. . . .
"I think it's sad that we have to spend any kind of natural energy on this. I think they were all out of their heads, jumping on this bandwagon."
And does any responsibility for this farce lie with Clinton?
Morton acknowledges that Clinton could have kept it from happening. "Had there been some honesty at the beginning--if he'd just said, 'Yeah, I did it and it's none of your business, so I'm not going to talk about it'--it would have been a blip in the news and then gone away.
"But what we need to do now is make sure the rest of his presidency isn't wasted time."
Contact Barry Graham at his online address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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