Some 400 of America's premier historians have recently signed a statement, written by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., City University of New York, Sean Wilentz, Princeton University and C. Vann Wodward, Yale University, condemning the faulty and unconstitutional premises that Congress is using in their mindless exercise of exposing President Clinton's private sex life. As this statement is far more incisive than anything I can offer, allow me to quote the entire proclamation:
"As historians as well as citizens, we deplore the present drive to impeach the President. We believe that this drive, if successful, will have the most serious implications for our constitutional order.
Under our Constitution, impeachment of the President is a grave and momentous step. The Framers explicitly reserved that step for high crimes and misdemeanors in the exercise of executive power. Impeachment for anything else would, according to James Madison, leave the President to serve "during pleasure of the Senate," thereby mangling the system of checks and balances that is our chief safeguard against abuses of public power.
Although we do not condone President Clinton’s private behavior or his subsequent attempts to deceive, the current charges against him depart from what the Framers saw as grounds for impeachment. The vote of the House of Representatives to conduct an open-ended inquiry creates a novel, all-purpose search for any offense by which to remove a President from office.
The theory of impeachment underlying these efforts is unprecedented in our history. The new processes are extremely ominous for the future of our political institutions. If carried forward, they will leave the Presidency permanently disfigured and diminished, at the mercy as never before of the caprices of any Congress. The Presidency, historically the center of leadership during our great national ordeals, will be crippled in meeting the inevitable challenges of the future.
We face a choice between preserving or undermining our Constitution. Do we want to establish a precedent for the future harassment of presidents and to tie up our government with a protracted national agony of search and accusation? Or do we want to protect the Constitution and get back to the public business?
We urge you, whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent, to oppose the dangerous new theory of impeachment, and to demand the restoration of the normal operations of our federal government."
Personally, I have sent a copy of this declaration to each of my Congressional and Senate representatives in the faint prospect that something resembling honesty and intelligence might break through the fog of maliciousness which has been this Congress' hallmark. I urge all of my readers to cut and paste this important document and send it by e-mail or fax or even snail mail to their representatives. Possibly, just possibly we can force the behemoth of government back towards addressing the public's needs and away from the conservative's cesspool of gossip passing for debate.
If you aren't certain of your representative's address (or if you aren't even certain who your representative might be), go to the "Related and Unrelated Links" page on this site (in fact, just go to government related links ). From there you can find a number of sites where you can find, just using your zip code, who to send this to.
If we, the last thinking Americans, don't demand that Congress return to the public's business then we are in for an entirely new set of checks and balances, a future that is not in the best interest of our nation nor our children.
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