Clinton: See you in Y2K +1
A Bill Clinton soliloquy that I dreamed up:
So here we are in Y2K minus 1. A lot of people thought I wouldn't last in office this long. And I have every intention of lasting until Y2K plus 1. (Have to use that line somewhere.)
First thing is to maintain the barrage of popular announcements - crime down, welfare down, more money for the homeless, the elderly, the disabled, and a crackdown on child abuse. I want every department cranking up new positive initiatives that won't cost too much for my State of the Union speech.
In the end, though, I'll have to deal with this impeachment thing.
I continue to hope that the Senate doesn't have much stomach for a drawn out trial and a vote short of two-thirds that probably only exonerates me. But, short of two-thirds, a Senate majority and a House majority voting against me still doesn't look good on my legacy.
So, censure ... My dilemma there is that Congress, including the Democrats, wants me to confess to deliberately lying under oath. I can't possibly do that. Would mean that I've been lying all this time about not lying. And a confession would set me up for a perjury indictment from Ken Starr the day I leave office.
What's needed here is a little creative ambiguity, something I've always been good at. So, suppose I encourage Congress to adopt a joint resolution as strong as they want, censuring me for lying under oath, and send it to me for my signature. And I do sign it before the cameras in the Oval Office. (Haven't used the Oval Office much for on-camera events lately.)
But, as I put down the pen, I say that I'm signing this in the same spirit I signed the welfare act and the budget. I don't agree with some of it, but I am willing to sign it because it is best for the country to end this ordeal.
It will help us get this tragic episode behind us and get on with the nation's business. What I don't agree with is left up in the air.
Oh, some of them will scream. But when they cool off they'll see they got what they wanted - my signature on a censure resolution. And, if they don't like my unspecified reservations, they can say, "There goes Slick Willie again." But, to heck with them! No long drawn-out trial. And the independent counsel can't prove by me that I perjured myself. Everybody wins.
It ought to work.
Let's try it out on ... let's see ... Hillary?
Naw, I never know these days when she's going to get mad at me.
I'll just sit it out for a while and keep repeating that I'm willing to sign a censure resolution.
They don't have to know in advance what I'll say when I sign it.
Creative ambiguity, yes sir! That's what this country runs on.
Daniel Schorr is senior news analyst for National Public Radio.