Aftermath of Hurricane Monica

The impeachment trial of the century continues to run its course in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Senate, but does anyone care? Of course people care, you say, otherwise something like three-quarters of the American public would not be opposed to a long, drawn-out Senate trial. But even so, it seems the much talked about “American people” have been so inundated by impeachment talk that they have become impervious to the whole situation. Yet the impeachment train keeps rolling right along regardless of whether it has any passengers.

Here’s something ironic about the aftermath of “Monica Madness”: in the year since Linda Tripp and her tapes first brought us details of the “inappropriate relationship” between a White House intern and the “Big Creep,” some of the president’s biggest detractors have been brought down by the Pandora’s box they unleashed while the object of their ire maintains high approval ratings.

Clinton has become the new Teflon president – regardless of his zipper problems, he remains wildly popular. No wonder the Republican Party is so destitute. Consider:

After the Lewinsky story broke out in full, Newt Gingrich promised that he would never give a speech without mentioning the scandal. After the Republicans’ poor performance in the November elections, Newt gets booted and blames the media for focusing too much on Monica. Exit Monica victim #1.

The wake of Hurricane Monica has engulfed many a politician who tried to use the scandal for their own benefit.

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Pa.) launched a tirade against the president and his philandering problems. He went so far as to call Clinton a “scumbag” because of the president’s track record of having difficulty with the truth. There was only a minor problem with Burton trying to take the high road – he had fathered a child out of wedlock. Burton’s credibility dropped like a rock, but at least he’s kept quiet ever since. Exit Monica victim #2.

Rep. Helen Chenoworth (R-Idaho), a strong supporter of militias, also took shots at the president for his marital infidelities during election year campaigning. The only problem was that Chenoworth herself had an affair with a married man. Hypocrisy? You betcha. Exit Monica victim #3.

Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and formerly a well-respected member of Congress, ran the hearings that produced articles of impeachment. Words such as “judicious,” “intelligent” and “honest” were often used to describe Hyde’s talents and reputation. That was before word got out that Hyde had an affair with a married woman three decades ago. But Hyde said it wasn’t an affair at all, just a little “youthful indiscretion” when he was 41 years old. Exit Monica victim #4.

Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) was all set to be the next House speaker. But before he could take hold of the gavel, he had to decline the speakership and resign from the House. The reason? His admission of past marital infidelities. But as Livingston made it a point to highlight, his affair was not with any employee or subordinate. Mrs. Livingston must have been greatly reassured that at least her husband was not shagging his secretary. Exit Monica victim #5.

Now the latest victim is Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.). Barr had been pushing for Clinton’s impeachment long before Monica & Co. ever became household names. Now allegations have surfaced that Barr might have committed perjury in a divorce hearing and had an extramarital affair. Monica victim #6?

While all these Republicans have been dropping like flies, their arch-nemesis remains firmly entrenched in the White House. No wonder Republicans are dumbfounded that even though Clinton has extremely high public approval ratings, the public does not think too highly of his personal behavior. Until the Republican Party figures out what it now stands for, it will remain stuck as the anti-Clinton party.

Who would have thought a year ago that a president forced to admit to an incredibly stupid long-term lapse of thinking would still sit in the Oval Office? After all the president’s dirty laundry has been aired in public for more than a year, what have we learned that we already did not know? Was it worth it? The Republicans who lost their credibility – and jobs – in the wake of “Monica Madness” must be wondering the same thing.

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