After a 30 year run in the House of Representatives, Henry Hyde is stepping down. Hyde, as you may recall, headed up the “House managers” during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and is now back in the headlines for a comment made to a reporter who asked if Bubba’s impeachment was in retaliation for Nixon.
“I can’t say it wasn’t”, Hyde said, in part. That’s all it took for the national media to pick up this story and run with it as proof that the impeachment of Clinton wasn’t justified.
The first question that comes to mind is… in retaliation for what? Nixon wasn’t impeached. Sure, he probably would have been, but he resigned first, spending his remaining years writing and loosening up by strolling along the beach in a suit and wingtips.
The only direct comparison I’m aware of between Clinton and Nixon is that, in both scandals, there was a “Deep Throat”.
Besides, by Clinton’s own admission, Republicans helped him in the self esteem department. In a June of 2004 interview, Clinton told an obviously smitten Dan Rather (I half expected the opening question to be “your place or mine?”) that he wore his impeachment “like a badge of honor,” because the effort was illegitimate.
Impeachment as a “badge of honor”? Clinton may have still been feeling a little guilt, since he once had an opportunity to earn an actual badge of honor, but instead, he was over at Oxford, pucker-deep in a doobie.
Maybe, in his later years, Henry Hyde is suffering from self doubt. He was beaten up pretty good in the late 90’s, but Hyde should re-read his speech during the impeachment debate to remind himself that, no, this had nothing to do with Nixon. He knows it didn’t, but a good reporter can slip things past somebody to create a parade of out-of-context quotes and confusing spin to take a local story to the national level– And it worked.
Taking it a step further, would a reporter ask Democrats in Congress today if what they’re trying to do to Tom Delay is in retaliation for Bill Clinton’s impeachment? What a silly question.