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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of October 8 - 14, 2003

Opinion Columns

Clinton vs. Bush: whose ‘betrayal’ is worse?

In the good ol’ days, lying about oral sex was sufficiently grave for Congress to impeach President Bill Clinton, plus spend $70 million for special prosecutor Ken Starr’s failed effort to drive Clinton out of office and into the slammer.

To the mad-as-wet-hens Republicans in a frenzy to oust Clinton, they considered his conduct cataclysmic, threatening foundations of the Republic.

The Articles of Impeachment sizzled with fury:

"William Jefferson Clinton has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States."

Strong stuff.

But these days, serial groping of women on movie sets and a public confession of "behaving badly" toward women were no obstacle for Arnold Schwarzenegger to become the darling of Republicans.

So what sort of behavior is so grievous as to set off alarms with Republicans who considered Clinton a national curse to be purged by presidential impeachment?

Surely the increasing and well-founded doubts about President George Bush’s official honesty provide a starting point for putative watchdogs of the public trust.

Does concocting a mythical imminent biological and nuclear threat to the United States as basis for marching to war qualify?

Or, cleaning out the Treasury’s hefty surplus and plunging the nation into debt so deep that generations will be grappling with it? (Such fiscal mismanagement led to California’s recall election.)

Or, repudiating several generations of progress in cleaning up the country’s air and water and authorizing industry to return to their polluting ways?

And what about supporting an attorney general who callously ignores constitutional guarantees of habeas corpus and the right to legal counsel to hold prisoners incommunicado indefinitely in a 2003 U.S. version of a Russian gulag?

As a reminder, when Republicans voted impeachment, they asserted that Bill Clinton had "betrayed his trust as President."

So, having driven his country into an astronomical financial hole, marched to war under false premises and approved of threats to civil liberties, has George Bush, as Clinton impeachers alleged, "betrayed his trust as President"?

Alas, the issue is moot. Today’s White House, Congress, and Justice Department are controlled by Republicans. This president can sleep easy: party politics run deeper than principle.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.