MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2021
Also, recalling the Clinton trial: Anthropologically speaking, the upper-end American journalists will typically have one great skill. He or she will be skilled at repeating whatever his or her last ten colleagues just said.
In the past two days, the children have been displaying this skill as they recite this script:
It was the most bipartisan presidential impeachment vote in history!
The children have all been reciting it! At this link, you can see it said in the New York Times, but by now you've seen and heard it everywhere else.
American pundits have taken numbers and stood in line, awaiting their chance to recite. In this case, their proclamation doesn't amount to a great deal, starting with the basic fact that there have only been three other such votes in all of American history.
(In 1867, Andrew Johnson, a Democrat, actually came within one vote of being convicted. That said, he hung on to every Democratic vote, of which there were only nine.)
At any rate, the children have all been reciting that script, and there's nothing they enjoy more. Over the weekend, we thought we'd review the way the Senate vote went in the Clinton impeachment trial.
This is what we found:
At the time, there were 55 Republican senators, 45 Democrats. Clinton had been impeached by the House on two separate counts, each of which stemmed from the fact that he'd engaged in oral sex without first seeking permission.
All 45 Democrats voted "not guilty" on each of the two counts. Here's how the Republicans voted:
Republicans voting "not guilty:" Five Republicans voted "not guilty" on both counts. Four of them hailed from New England:
Susan Collins, Maine
Olympia Snowe, Maine
Jim Jeffords, Vermont
John Chafee, Rhode Island
Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania
Back in those days, the New England states still tended to elect moderate or moderate-seeming Republicans. Today, only Collins remains.
In 2009, Specter switched parties.
Republicans voting both ways: Five Republicans voted "guilty" on one count, "not guilty" on the other. The only such person of current interest is Alabama's Richard Shelby, who voted "not guilty" on Saturday.
At the time, Shelby was an interesting case. In 1986, he'd been elected to the Senate as a Democrat. In the November 1994 elections, the GOP took control of the Senate for the first time in Shelby's tenure.
Shelby switched parties the very next day, establishing himself as the Alabama senator of the permanent majority. Five years later, when Clinton was tried, he voted one way and the other.
Republicans voting "guilty:" Most Republicans voted "guilty" on both counts. Below, you see some people of current or permanent interest:
Mike DeWine, Ohio
John McCain, Arizona
Mitch McConnell, Kentucky
Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania
Jeff Sessions, Alabama
Senator Murkowski (R-Alaska) also voted "guilty" on both counts. In those days, of course, that was Senator Frank Murkowski. Today, it's Senator Lisa Murkowski, Frank Murkowski's daughter.
High comedy during trial: An array of scripts drove press coverage during the Year of Impeachment. In the mother of all such scripts, Monica Lewinsky was persistently described as "a 21-year-old intern."
In fact, Lewinsky was 22—almost 22 and a half!—when her relationship with Clinton began. She never exchanged a word with Clinton before she was 22.
Technically, she was still an intern at the time of their first encounter, but she had already accepted a federal government job, which she started something like ten days later. As such, she was only an intern for the first ten days of her roughly two-year relationship with Clinton.
She was never 21, and she was an intern for only the briefest of moments. But as the children went on TV and recited their scripts, she remained a "21-year-old intern." The reason for this designation is perfectly obvious:
That age, and that job description, are both symbols of youth and innocence. The bogus description the children recited drove home their novelized point.
The sheer stupidity of their conduct was and is hard to top. As we noted, Jay Leno would get Lewinsky's age right in his Tonight Show jokes, but the leading stars of the upper-end "press corps" just never stopped getting it wrong.
This led to a sad but comical moment during the Senate trial. One of Clinton's lawyers, Greg Craig, finally felt he had to explain. In the process, he rebutted an illogical accusation, one we won't bother to explain:
CRAIG (1/20/99): There is no dispute about the critical facts that Ms. Lewinsky was young, very young, too young when she got involved with President Clinton. But her age didn't change between November 1995 and January 1996. Her birthday is in July.
She was 22 years old in November and 22 years old in January, despite the fact that every [House] manager persists in stating, erroneously—not perjuriously, erroneously—that she was 21 years old when she first became involved with the president.
Nothing of any importance in the case took place between December 1995 and January 1996.
She was an intern in the early stages of that period and she became a government employee. So, it didn't change the relationship that she had with the president. It modified her title. Any dispute over this immaterial issue is silly.
Even under oath, "every manager" persisted in making the erroneous claim about Lewinsky's age, Craig noted. He was referring to the House members who were arguing the case in the Senate—and yes, needless to say, that included Lindsey Graham.
Craig noted the fact that the House managers kept misstating Lewinsky's age. They weren't doing this on purpose (i.e., perjuriously), he generously pretended to claim.
Craig was much too Washington-savvy to note an attendant fact. Every major American pundit had been misstating Lewinsky's age for the past year too! Misstating her age was a part of the script, and our children do love to recite them.
It was a script, and the children all knew it. Most experts are willing to say that this is their only known skill.
Eventually, President Clinton was acquitted. The vote was 50-50 on one count, 55-45 in favor of conviction on the other.
In early March, Candidate Gore began to campaign. The children started attacking him instantly, for reasons which history makes perfectly obvious.
That said, recorded history is highly selective, especially where the conduct of upper-end elites is concerned. Our top historians know that they must never discuss that subsequent upper-end "war against Gore," the war which let George W. Bush squeeze into the White House.
The children kept attacking Gore as their final shot at Clinton. They attacked his clothes; they called him a girl; they invented a string of crazy claims he had supposedly made.
He'd lick the bathroom floor to be president, Chris Matthews wouldn't stop saying. (He was Rachel's favorite pundit. Her drinking buddy, Greta van Susteren, was Trump's birther caddy at Fox.)
Half of them did this during Campaign 2000; the other half looked away. People are dead all over Iraq because of the way they played.
Today, their names have changed, but their skill set hasn't. Despondent major top anthropologists insist that we're wired this way.