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JAMES GALBRAITH Clinton’s Win, Gephardt’s Plan Let me remind you of what I wrote in this space, back in February: “Meanwhile, in the middle of this comedy Will come the 1998 elections. The public, which rightly thinks the scandal is nonsense, will have its vote, by secret ballot on Starr, on sexual repression and also on the liberal agenda that Clinton has put before Congress. Do they want a sex lynching or a higher minimum wage and expanded childcare and health insurance? What do you think will happen? It is already unheard-of for a President in his sixth year to have public approval above 70 percent. Properly handled, these issues have the makings of a Democratic victory, fought squarely on a progressive platform.” Election night was sweet. It was wonderful to see the senators most closely identified with Kenneth Starr Faircloth and D’Amato defeated. It was glorious to see Richard Gephardt pick up five seats. It was grand to watch Newt Gingrich and Larry King bicker over which of the two had wasted more time and energy on Monica Lewinsky. But the real victor of this election got little credit on TV. It was not, said William Schneider, a referendum on Clinton’s conduct. According to exit polls, voters denied that they had been influenced by the one great issue of the day. It was about, well, health care and education and Social Security, said the Democrats, and about local issues, said the Republicans. Balls. This was a personal victory for President Clinton, who in October staged the Rose Garden campaign of a lifetime. Beginning with the budget, Clinton finally took the measure of the Republicans, and rolled them. Then, with the Arafat-Netanyahu peace negotiations, he showed his capacity greater than Reagan’s to shape and dominate the news. And then, he had the good sense to lay low for the final push, quietly insisting that the election was not about himself, while the First Lady and the Vice President did the heavy lifting on the road. Old one-eyed Kotuzov is smiling. The Grand Army had reached the gates of Moscow. Now it must retreat over frozen ground, losing soldiers at every step. Fac ing mutiny, Marshall Newt has quit his post. But the deep Republican problem wasn’t Gingrich. It was, and is, their rankand-file, that group of amateurs Gingrich is leaving in place. “It has generally been forgotten,” my 1910 Britannica states, “that the utter want of march discipline among the French, and not the climatic conditions, was responsible for the appalling disasters which ensued.” Now the Reverend Henry J. Hyde, that model of probity, must escape from the trap that has suddenly shut on himself. Gone, gone are last week’s solemn commitments to follow the constitutional process to the end. Hyde now wants Ken Starr as a lone witness, two days of hearings and it’s over. And then what? Is the House Judiciary committee going to vote out articles of impeachment based on the testimony of a single witness? Hyde’s failure to call the real witnesses concedes the insincerity of his probe. But it also changes the dynamic. If Kenneth Starr is the only one who appears, then the inquiry is no longer about Clinton, it’s about Starr. How can this be anything except another political disaster? Is Hyde going to say afterwards that David Schippers has reviewed his , fifteen impeachable charges, all drawn from the Starr Report, and found them baseless? Or will he let articles come to a vote, and fail because Republicans do not support them? How can it end, except in repudiation by the Republicans themselves of Starr and all of his works? At the crossing of the Berezina river, Napoleon lost 20,000 troops. If the elections were a Republican Borodino, Hyde’s upcoming spectacle could be their Berezina. Don’t miss it. Meanwhile, where did you go, Joseph Lieberman? Gone, gone is that tiny cadre of DLC apostles who stood so tall last summer in the Senate, warning that their votes for Clinton’s acquittal were not secure. The President should not forget, for once, who was loyal and who was not, who stood for the Constitution and who sold it for thirty minutes on CNN. OK, enough. Clinton won, but Richard Gephardt did too. And since Gephardt has a program while Clinton does not, Gephardt should set the agenda immediately ahead. The Social Security question should be settled, in a way that is progressive, that preserves benefits, and that lacks any trace of privatization or stock-jobbing. The decks should then be cleared for a real Democratic push next year, aimed at raising the minimum wage, stabilizing international financial markets, getting bankdriven speculations under control, and at long-overdue structural reform of the Federal Reserve. Come to think of it, many of these are Banking Committee matters. On which, it will be a pleasure to be dealing with that other modern Napoleon, Senator Phil Gramm. James K. Galbraith teaches at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. His most recent book is Created Unequal. And he is, for the moment, a happy man. ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SOIJARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 512-453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER NOVEMBER 20, 1998