Lessons From the Impeachment Trial --- One Last Look at the Scandal

Robert Urban, MD

I would like to share with you my thoughts about an issue which you may well be tired of hearing, seeing, and thinking about, but I would ask you to view it with me from a different perspective; which might provide us with a broader and more rewarding portrayal of a very unfortunate happening.

The Clinton/Lewinsky debacle has been characterized by many forms of denigration from a waste of precious time better spent on the real problems of America, to a Republican sponsored witch hunt. I would take a different tack --- that this current controversy, as sordid and salacious as it is, has been a very good thing for us, and for our country. Now hear me out.

This whole messy thing has been a real educational experience for most of us. Can you imagine anything else that might have awakened us from the deep sleep (coma?) we have been in regarding the real state of the Union? I refer to the profound lethargy and apathy (that French word insouciance again) that has allowed us to actually believe that our economy is good, if not great, despite a $5.75 trillion national debt; and an out of control foreign trade deficit that is currently financing China's purchasing of high tech missile guidance systems and nuclear materials from the Middle East which may well soon be aimed at us. That same coma has allowed us to believe that we are not really in any world wide danger though our military spending and defense budgets have been scraped to the bone and our armed services are in such disrepair that we may have to soon consider implementing a draft to fill the essential jobs, now vacant in the military.

And then another awakening --- we have suddenly become familiar with the faces and personalities and ideologies of our congressmen --- not only those representing our own districts and states but many others who previously were totally unknown to us or perhaps we had only heard their names?

Now let me point out another big plus. We've all heard about the 13 month paralysis of government due to the scandal --- the so-called government "shut down." Well, have you noticed any rioting in the streets? Any foreign attacks on our shores? The Dow has stayed right up there. Inflation is non-existent. Employment rates remain high. Unemployment is at record lows. The point is --- the system works, and maybe we need a longer shut down, when government isn't meddling in our lives and our business! I'd suggest a five year moratorium on unconstitutional government activity (that would cover about 90 percent of its current business) which might just be the best thing that could happen to us. If nothing else, it would certainly slow down our slide down the slippery slope to a completely socialist state.

And now to the real heart of the matter: Our Constitution and Declaration, the Federalist Papers, Washington's Farewell Address, and even the Gettysburg Address have never had such broad exposure thanks to the marvels of today's high tech media and the current controversy. People who never thought twice about these sacred words have had to look and listen, and then maybe even learn, that these documents are living, breathing foundations for all the good things about America; that despite all the divergent beliefs, despite the remarkable mix of cultures, religions, ethnic, and racial influences; regardless of the dastardly motives and behavior of some of our leaders, the words of our Founders have persevered once again as they have repeatedly for more than 200 years, during the best and worst economic times, through times of peace and times of war, through the reign of true princes and dastardly rogues in high offices, through assassinations, and yes, even impeachments.

Yet as remarkable as the Founders' plan has proven to be (and some of us feel that it may have even been divinely inspired) it is also very fragile, not dependent on its own protective forces, but, always dependent on some government officials who take it seriously by respecting their sacred oaths to uphold and protect the Constitution, and also just as dependent on our citizens, some of whom are eager and willing to see that our Leaders also do just that --- uphold and preserve the Constitution. And so it is our continuing responsibility (for both leaders and citizens) to mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

I will concede that during the past few months, we have had to endure the ranting and raving of some real twits (politicians, political pundits, journalists, and misguided citizens) but, we have also seen some real live heroes as well --- some, I believe who would appear very much at home sitting around a table with our original Founding Fathers, even to the point of mutually pledging to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. And we might add to that pledge list for some of our current heroes our chance of being reelected in view of the polls.

And so in conclusion, I believe the scandal has not been all bad --- it has enlightened us about the real state of the Union --- about its leaders, its high tech media, its citizens, and indeed, the constitutional system that still miraculously works to hold this great nation together, despite our tarnished leaders, partisan politics, and diverse ideologies. I am sure our Founding Fathers are breathing sighs of relief, and are very proud of our newest group of heroes.

Dr. Urban is a member of the AAPS Board of Directors and practices in Belle Vernon, PA.

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 2000;5(1):23-24. Copyright©2000 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)