Between the Lines By David Lias I'm sorry, but no matter how hard I try, I can't believe the president's motives.
I've been giving it a lot of thought for nearly all day now, ever since I first heard that President Clinton had ordered an attack on Iraq.
He's told us that he ordered the attack in the best interest of our nation and our allies.
I can't believe him.
Especially when he chose to let the missiles fly on the eve of the scheduled historic debate by the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday on articles of his impeachment.
House Republicans agreed Wednesday night to a brief delay in impeachment proceedings against Clinton because of air strikes in Iraq, even though many questioned whether the attacks were politically motivated.
As for the timing, Clinton said that his military advisors recommended a swift response to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's latest defiance of U.N. weapons inspectors, and that he wanted to avoid an attack during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins this weekend.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was the most senior Republican to challenge the administration's decision-making. He said he had been assured by the administration there was no connection with the impeachment proceedings. But, he said, "Both the timing and the policy are subject to question."
I suspect that Clinton may be trying to delay the
inevitable. His chances of avoiding impeachment dimmed further Wednesday when several wavering Republicans announced they would vote to send the issue to the Senate for trial. Four moderate Republicans whom the White House had hoped would break party ranks instead came out for impeachment.
The GOP-led Judiciary Committee said in its final report that Clinton had disgraced his office and should be ousted and barred from holding federal office again. Dissenting Democrats said Clinton's transgressions were not impeachable.
I think Rep. Gerald Solomon, R-NY., a former Marine and the outgoing chairman of the House Rules Committee, summed things up best Wednesday. He said he believed an attack on Iraq was planned solely to delay an impeachment vote against Clinton.
"For him to do this at this unbelievable time is just outrageous," Solomon said. "I know he is not a military man, and he doesn't understand this. But those of us who have been in the military do."
An Associated Press telephone survey of House members found 171 lawmakers said they would support impeachment, 182 said they would oppose it, 58 remained undecided, and 24 wouldn't answer or didn't return phone calls. The totals include members who said they were leaning toward a position. The undecided and those not responding included 27 Democrats and 55 Republicans.
I'm still sticking to a scenario that I described in this column several months ago, when Ken Starr's initial report to Congress was made public.
I called on Clinton to follow the footsteps of Richard Nixon, and resign. I still believe we'd be better off without Clinton, who seems to be transforming into an ever-growing political embarrassment for our nation.
I noted that Nixon, in his very crafty way, fashioned a somewhat painless conclusion to his dying presidency. After putting the nation through a lot of heartache and suffering, he finally did the right thing. He put his country first. He resigned.
Clinton should do the same thing.
Well, let's see.
It's alleged he perjured himself before a grand jury.
He lied to the American people.
He attempted to tamper with witnesses.
He abused the powers of his office.
Hmmm, what else?
He had an extra-marital affair with Monica Lewinsky.
He admitted under oath that he had an extra-marital affair with Gennifer Flowers.
He recently settled a sexual harassment lawsuit out of court with Paula Jones.
One more thing. Take a good, hard look at the man.
Bill Clinton has built his entire career on political betrayal.
As I've noted before, why be surprised when the man who ran away from pledge after pledge made to his less powerful and wealthy constituents, would fail to take into account the faith and sacrifice of others before doing what he thought was best for himself?
Time and again we've heard that this country must get back to business as usual and deal with tough issues, and tough adversaries, like Saddam Hussein.
For that we need a leader we can trust.
Call me a cynic. One conclusion seems clear, however.
That leader is not Bill Clinton.