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Call back the hounds

By Mary Fan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 10, 1998
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Mary Fan

There was once a boar beset on all sides by tenacious hounds.

We are Americans. We rooted for the boar.

Then came the first tear - not scratches, not insinuations - but a tear. An admission: "I misled people, including even my wife." The air was charged with the scent of blood.

The innocents, in true Golding fashion, developed a preternatural taste for blood. And all the poisonous, thick blood continues to pump to the surface from a gash continually being reopened.

This Friday, Kenneth Starr will release his multi-million dollar report, which is expected to be impeachment fodder. Laced with tales so explicit that some pundits are arguing the public, the innocents, be given a censored version.

Clinton's lawyers desperately want their own version so that they may prepare a response when the report is released.

"Elemental fairness dictates that we be allowed to respond to any report you send to the House simultaneously with its transmission," Clinton's lawyer David Kendall wrote in a plea to Starr.

The request was rebuffed. Imagine the heat and quickening, the cold panic of a massive creature, stripped of all its winning grandeur, crashing blindly into the bush. The blood scent is thick.

Attorney-General Janet Reno announced this week that she is authorizing a formal 90-day investigation into allegations that Clinton may have coupled campaign advertising with standard White House issue during his 1996 re-election campaign. Another independent counsel may await the beleaguered president.

If he stays in office that long. If he isn't pardoned by a former underling bumped up to fill in for him. All possibilities being bandied about by the press, by White House officials.

Crash. Brought down and the fangs are at its throat. The final rips are just semantics.

Here's something I remember during the early glory days of this president when his personal life made TV only in teen-age, light-hearted skits about munching on McDonald's and smoking a little pot.

I was in high school then, taking U.S. History, and we were reading about Nixon. Our teacher, a bespectacled, energetic woman, was harumphing at us and saying in her "I'll let you in on a secret" voice, "If he had only admitted the truth and apologized to everyone I guarantee you we would have forgiven him and gone on. When you're caught always admit you are wrong and you'll be safe."

Maybe, and maybe it should be that way. Kneeling in admission used to be atonement enough. But Clinton, who in his elite preparatory schools may have had the same kind of history teacher, and decided to follow her advice, has only brought the flimsily erected walls around himself crumbling down with his admission. Politicians, Republicans who had long been waiting in the shadows bridling against this Teflon Don of a president, saw the breach and tore at him.

Impeachment, a word not to be bandied about lightly, is tossed about almost as frequently as Lewinsky, certainly a mark of some great import.

The people's will? Clearly not if polls are any indicator. Clearly not if the politicians' own words are any indicator.

"Anytime a president is threatened or removed from office, certainly it is not a happy situation for the country," said Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, the Senate majority leader, and a Republican, on NBC's "Meet the Press."

We - public and politicians alike - fear impeachment because it will leave the nation without a proven, albeit scandal-stained, statesman at its helm. We don't want impeachment.

So are all these rumbles of sound and fury signifying nothing? Or do they signify something disturbing - an unnatural fascination with watching a former power figure, already brought low, dragged further along in the muck? A fascination as primal as blood-lust brought out when politicians, the jaded breed among us who play faction fractionalization for a living, use us as bitterly warring parents use their kids as ammunition to hurt each other.

Imagine, we could have been innocents forever, watched the chase and at the end of the term finished with the blood still unshed and the nation wakened like a sleeper before the nightmare got really bad.

But blood is drawn and we are split by two urges - to rest comfortably in the reassuring shadow of Clinton's statesmanship or to watch enraptured as he is torn to what we already know he is.

It is past time to choose between the urges. We cannot have it both ways. Call back the hounds - our hounds - or let them tear him the rest of the way into impeachment.

Mary Fan is a journalism and international studies senior. Her column, Skyfall, appears every Thursday. Mary Fan can be reached via e-mail at

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