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    The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from
    Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and
        -United States Constitution, Article II, section 4

    Men, in public trust, will much oftener act in such a manner as to make them unworthy of being any
    longer trusted than in such a manner as to make them obnoxious to legal punishment.
        -Alexander Hamilton

    The last line of the Declaration of Independence is: 'And for the support of this Declaration, with a
    firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives,
    our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.' Impeachment isn't a revolution, and no one's lives or fortunes
    are at risk. It's not even our sacred honor this time. It's just a question of whether the country can
    patch together a little self-respect.

    The Founding Fathers said the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. This book isn't even asking for
    vigilance. It's just asking people to give a damn.  If Americans don't care about this, then they are
    expecting liberty without paying any price at all.
        -Ann Coulter, High Crimes and Misdemeanors

There was a time, as recently as about fifteen years ago, when all the fab' babes were on the other side.  Before the current generation of young folks, who not coincidentally came of age during the Reagan years, the Republican Party was seemingly the exclusive province of square men.  We were the party of guys like Bob Taft & Barry Goldwater in their horn-rimmed glasses, of bald guys like Ike & Gerry Ford, of crew cut guys like Haldeman & Ehrilchman, of complete doofuses like Nixon.  We weren't just the party of men, but the party of old men. We were the Father Party.  Sure we had the occasional snappy dish--Margaret Thatcher, Ayn Rand, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Phyllis Schlafly, et. al--but they tended to be a tad severe.  Democrats, for a variety of reasons, were the party of women, of the young, and of the cool guys (not "cool" from the perspective of other men, but the guys, like the Kennedys and Bill Clinton, who were smooth with the ladies).

I can't pinpoint the precise moment when this all changed, but that it has changed is a certainty, and this became obvious during the impeachment of Bill Clinton.  Suddenly, instead of just having our usual bland, middle-aged, white, spokesmen, like Bill McCollum and Arlen Specter (both perfectly adequate, but hardly electrifying), whenever you turned on the television there was another attractive-young-blonde-conservative-woman : Peggy Noonan, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Monica Crowley, Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, Barbara Olson, to name a few.  And not only were they a-y-b-c-w's, they were also extremely bright and frighteningly aggressive.  (Coulter, Ingraham and Olson are all attorneys, and clerked for big time judges and Crowley attended the nation's premier institution of higher learning, Colgate University.)  It's common enough for TV's talking heads to be chosen for their looks, more than for their intellects, but this crew had the whole package.  I saw a couple of appearances by Ann Coulter where I thought her opponents were going to either start crying or hide under a table--she knew more than they did, held her views more strongly, and enunciated them more vociferously.

Meanwhile, who was left to defend Bill Clinton ? Bald guys like Carville.  Gay guys like Barney Frank.  Severe women like Hilary, Donna Shalala, and Anne Lewis.  Dweeby guys like Henry Waxman and Lanny Davis.  There may still have been enough women in the Democratic Party for Bill Clinton to chase a few around the Oval Office, but, mirabile dictu, the smokin' hot, brainy chicks in town were finally on our side.  And lest this seem like a pure creation of television, we were treated a few years later to the spectacle of the Million Mom March, a bizarre gathering of humorless women being harangued by the likes of Rosie O'Donnell about the evil of guns.  The whole thing resembled nothing so much as the "Two Minute Hate" from George Orwell's 1984. They come off particularly badly when contrasted with the competing rally by the Second Amendment Sisters, a raucous conclave of conservative women devoted to preserving gun rights.  In this perfect bit of political allegory, the Democrats had become the Mother Party, while the GOP was the party of pistol-packing sisters, and other peoples' sisters at that.

Just how stunning a turn of events this was is readily apparent from the hysterical reaction of the Left Wing press, which has either dismissed or attacked this new breed of conservative women.  A particularly vile, but unfortunately not unique, manifestation of this trend was the essay suggesting that Ann Coulter needed to find a man.  There is, of course, a delicious irony in these sexist attacks on conservative women; just imagine the howls of outrage if the perpetrators were conservatives.  We'd never hear the end of it.

Any question though about the talents of Ms Coulter are ably answered in this book, which lays out, with  devastating clarity and biting sarcasm, the case for the impeachment of Bill Clinton.  Several years after the fact, the presentation of the many Clinton scandals (up until 1998) may seem a tad tiresome, but Coulter lays out the facts (as they were known at the time) in the succinct and logical fashion that a good prosecutor would use.  One is tempted to believe--unable, as I am, to escape delusion--that had the actual impeachment case been explained this well, it might have garnered more support.  Then too, it is so persuasive that some of the bitterness of her invective seems out of place, however justified.  Far be it from me to defend Bill Clinton, but comparisons to OJ Simpson seem overdone, and unnecessary in light of the actual behavior she nails the President on.  The other quibble with the book is mostly a function of when she wrote it : she repeatedly attacks the GOP dominated Congress for not impeaching the President, which they, of course, did within months of the publication of the book.

But these criticisms are minor in comparison to the great praise she deserves, not just for arguing the facts so well, but more importantly, for  her compelling argument that Impeachment is (was) justified based on those facts.  The book's greatest value may lie in this uniquely cogent brief for the proposition that Impeachment was not viewed by the Founders as a radical solution to an unlikely set of events, but was instead intended to be a regular part of Constitutional government, allowing for the efficient removal of a President (or other official) who has not even necessarily done something illegal or provably criminal, but has simply betrayed the public trust.  Regardless of your partisan political leanings or your personal opinion of Bill Clinton, it's awfully hard to argue that having sex with an intern in the Oval Office, trying to get her to lie about it in exchange for a job, trying to get her to suborn the perjury of her friend (Linda Tripp), and lying about it yourself under oath (in the Paula Jones case), are not betrayals of that trust.  In fact, just strip everything away except for the incontrovertible fact that the President of the United States had an extramarital affair with a twenty-one year old employee : this alone is, or should be, sufficient justification for impeachment.  If you doubt it, imagine yourself trying to muster the chutzpah to ask George Washington if he thinks it's sufficient.

This return to first principles is especially useful because the President's defenders ignored all principles and instead argued technicalities ad nauseum (what is the meaning of "is" ? what is the meaning of sexual relations ? etc.), turning the entire process into little more than a legalistic game : no 100% certain criminal liability = no impeachment.  To counter this, Coulter looks at the history of impeachments here and in Britain, at the specific meaning of the "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" language, and at the writings of the Founders, to demonstrate that it is not the intent of the Constitution to shield the President in all but those rare cases where he has demonstrably engaged in illegal activity, but instead to allow the citizenry to replace a President whom they can no longer trust.

While noting that this more relaxed standard might be susceptible to abuse, though of course the stricter standard is too, Coulter is careful to argue that the impeachable actions must not be merely politically unpopular or mere mistakes.  Though not necessarily a criminal standard, impeachable actions should violate a moral standard.  She quotes Madison to the effect that :

    The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess
    most wisdom to discern and most virtue to pursue the common good of the society; and in the next
    place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold
    their public trust.

This will sound quaint and unrealistic to many; why after all would we sophisticated moderns even expect a President to be virtuous ?  But if we don't expect them to be and we don't hold them to this standard, then we have no one to blame but ourselves when they disdain virtue.  As she puts it herself :

    [I]mpeachment is not just a matter of legal technicalities.  It is a matter of our duty as citizens.

Republicans, most of them anyway, did finally see fit to do that duty, but were never able to convince the public or the Democrats that it was a shared duty.

Unfortunately for the country, it is one of the defining characteristics of Bill Clinton that he eventually proves his critics right, no matter how outrageous their charges may seem at first glance.  And so, in the waning days of his presidency we were all treated to a hard lesson in the consequences of not removing such a miscreant from office.  Having sanctioned, either explicitly or implicitly, adultery, sodomy, sexual assault, bribery, bank fraud, misuse of the IRS and FBI, obstruction of justice, perjury, spurious and dilatory claims of executive privilege, and even something approaching treason, the public and Democrats were left mouthing empty protestations of shock when the departing Bill Clinton sold pardons, stole the White House furniture, and headed off to play a racially exclusive golf course.  Having spent eight years defining deviancy downwards, to protect Bill Clinton, it may have been disgusting to discover how low we'd gone, but it surely wasn't surprising.

There's more than enough blame to go around when we start parceling out responsibility for the degradation of the presidency that occurred in the Clinton years, but among those who deserve none, Ann Coulter stands out.  No one has stated the case for impeachment better, nor enunciated a clearer rationale for how impeachment should be used in general.  America has paid, and will continue to pay, a high price for reading the phrase "high Crimes and Misdemeanors" as an exalted, nigh unreachable, technical threshold.  In the future, we must follow the counsel of Ms Coulter and return to the original meaning of the phrase.  Like the other features of the Constitution, it is intended to be used, with some regularity, as a check on unfit officials.  The drafters of the Constitution well understood that precautions were necessary to guard against such people; it is we who seem to have forgotten.


Grade: (A-)


Ann Coulter Links:

    -ESSAY: A Vast Right-Wing Cry of Treason: In her new book, Ann Coulter gets McCarthy right--and makes conservatives mad. (Sam Tanenhaus, July 24, 2003, Slate)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Ann Coulter News Desk
    -EXCERPT : from High Crimes and Misdemeanors : The Case Against Bill Clinton : First Chapter : Just Do It
    -ESSAY : Disbarring Clinton (Ann Coulter, Human Events, June 9, 2000)
    -ESSAY : Tripp's Starr Chamber (Ann Coulter, Human Events, December 24, 1999)
    -ESSAY : So Impeach Newt (Ann Coulter, Human Events, August 27, 1999)
    -ESSAY : Annie's Got Her Gun (Ann Coulter, George)
    -DISCUSSION : Talking Law : Since the O.J. Simpson trial, the number of television programs focusing on legal affairs have been on the rise.   But how are these programs affecting the public's perception of the law? (Online Newshour, PBS, October 19, 1998 )
    -TRANSCRIPT : Politically Incorrect : February 26, 2001: Guests on this program were: Richard Kind,  Peter Horton, Ann Coulter, John Lott
    -COLUMN ARCHIVE : Ann Coulter News Desk (Human Events)
    -COLUMN ARCHIVE : Ann Coulter : George Magazine Articles
    -COLUMN ARCHIVES : Conservative Columnists: Ann Coulter
    -COLUMN ARCHIVES : Ann Coulter (Jewish World Review)
    -COLUMN ARCHIVES : UExpress Online - Opinion Features : Ann Coulter
    -ARCHIVES : "ann coulter" (Find Articles)
    -ARCHIVES : "Ann Coulter" (Salon)
    -ARCHIVES : Ann Coulter (National Review)
    -ESSAY : The Abortion Exception : The Left v. the Constitution. (Ann Coulter,  April 19, 2001)
    -ESSAY : Look Who's "Not Qualified" Now (Ann Coulter, National Review)
    -Ann Coulter Fan Club : Dedicated to the "Official Babe of the VRWC"
    -ESSAY : National Review Cans Columnist Ann Coulter (Howard Kurtz, Washington Post, October 2, 2001)
    -ESSAY :  The triumph of "multicultural" thugs : The physical assault on Ann Coulter at Cornell proves that fascism is alive and well on U.S. campuses (David Horowitz, Salon)
    -ESSAY : RADICAL CHICKS : The new conservative sisterhood (Hanna Rosin, New Republic)
    -ESSAY : Cokie Roberts for president!  Columnist Ann Coulter may try to get Connecticut voters to take her  home, while broadcaster Pat Buchanan and editor Steve Forbes are running again. But is a media  perch really a political asset? (James Poniewozik, Salon)
    -ESSAY : Conservative columnist Ann Coulter is rejected by Connecticut LP in bid to run for U.S. House : "Blond bombshell" commentator responds with a vitriolic column in Human Events (Libertarian Party)
    -ESSAY : Ann of a thousand lays Ten modest proposals to help Ann Coulter get a date (THOR HESLA, Salon)
    -ESSAY : Ann Coulter: The Brutal Truth (Baird Allis)
    -LINKS : Ann Coulter :  Documents and Links (
    -REVIEW : of High Crimes and Misdemeanors (Robert H. Bork, Wall Street Journal)
    -REVIEW : of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case against Bill Clinton, by Ann Coulter (Matthew Scully, National Review)
    -REVIEW : of High Crimes and Misdemeanors ( Claude R. Marx , Intellectual Capital)
    -REVIEW : of High Crimes and Misdemeanor (David Mayer, Federalist Society)
    -REVIEW : of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Clinton by Ann Coulter and The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals by William J. Bennett (Ron Hogan, India World)

    -Kenneth Starr's Report To Congress
    -Hip Rebuplicans
    -Independent Women's Forum
    -Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute (Taking conservative ideas to young women and mentoring them into effective leaders; and making parents preeminent in the education of their children)
    -ARCHIVES : "mona charen" (Townhall)
    -ARCHIVES : "linda chavez" (Townhall)
    -ARCHIVES : "michelle malkin" (Townhall)
    -ARCHIVES : "Phyllis Schlafly" (townhall)
    -Laura Ingraham, Contributing Editor (Contentville)
    -ARCHIVES : "laura ingraham" (Intellectual Capital)
    -ESSAY : The Gun Control Lobby Shoots Blanks: Study Showing Concealed Carry Laws Deter Crime Ignored by Dems (Laura Ingraham)
    -ESSAY : Million Mom Mush : Hollywood touches, inflated numbers, and bogus stories from media-savvy moms.(Edmund Walsh, weekly Standard)
    -ESSAY : Media Pundits on the Anti-Feminist Warpath (Laura Flanders, Feminista!)
    -ESSAY : God Bless You, Laura Ingraham ! (JAMES PONIEWOZIK, Salon)
    -ESSAY : Females and Handguns (Richard Rhodes)
    -EXCERPT : Chapter One of The Hillary Trap by Laura Ingraham
    -REVIEW : of The Hillary Trap by Laura Ingraham (Gail Collins, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of The Hillary Trap (Christina Schwab, New City)
    -PROFILE : Republican Chick : She may be nesting, but Mary Matalin is more of a hawk than ever
    -ESSAY : High Crimes and Definitions -- Rebuttals and Tripp-Smears Fail to Exonerate Clinton (Stephanie Herman, Rightgrrl)
    -ESSAY : The Founding Fathers, High Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Impeachment (Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD, Hacienda)
    -EDITORIAL : Compromised Counsel (The Nation, May 1996)
    -REVIEW : of Susan Schmidt and Michael Weisskopf's"Truth at any costs" (Stephen Pomper, Washington Monthly)