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Last laugh in the presidential soap opera

By Tom Collins
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 13, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Who was it who said "It's not over `til the fat lady sings."

Perhaps it was Bill Clinton.

Just when the country settled into its respective couches for a summer of the president's living room war, Susan Webber Wright, the Arkansas judge who oversaw the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, delivered what one hopes will be the final insult of the impeachment fiasco. Webber Wright yesterday held the president in civil contempt of court for his "misleading" testimony in the Jones case, according to the USA Today's online edition.

"The court takes no pleasure whatsoever in holding this nation's president in contempt of court,'' the statement said. Doubtless, it must be the greatest of burdens for this judge to provide what amounts to the last word on the sexual foibles of the president. The order demands the soon-to-be unemployed and destitute president pay for Webber Wright's travel expenses to go to Washington for the Jan 17, 1998 deposition (a cost CNN puts at $1,202 ) and could lead to Clinton's disbarrment in Arkansas, among other aspects. That deposition as we all know now concerned among other items of intrigue, Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Sure enough the news was of top of the hour importance on the news Web sites and CNN, which, for me personally, anyhow, was a welcome break from the non-stop depression that is the Kosovo crisis. The move of course preempts G. I. Dan Rather's first broadcast from the killing fields of the Balkans and will likely buy Marcia Clark a few more weeks of air time. And in this way, Webber Wright's move, coming as it did just before the evening news aired on the old East Coast, was impeccably timed, the sort of move Michael Deaver or Joe McCarthy might admire. Certainly, Webber Wright took no pleasure in this penny ante pot shot. Certainly.

Yeah, this is meaningful. Because we all know Clinton planned to return to Arkansas and hang up a shingle. Cancel that TV ad for William J. Clinton and Associates - Arkansas' Accident Lawyers. It's the kind of thing that makes a man want to go home and kick the dog, or fling a few bombs at Baghdad. Well, shoot, Hillary, I guess we'll have to put off buying that Buick for another year.

Now, I don't know, but I've been told we ought to continue to keep in mind the gravity of what the president did and said, and I'm certain we all hear about how this is vindication for the Starrtroopers and their ilk.

But me, I figure this is just further justification for putting ground troops into Yugoslavia. We all know wars aren't won in the air, but on the air. And beyond that, this at least will give columnists at larger papers around the country the opportunity to, yet again, say their piece about the president's piece. All of this doesn't change the fact that George Bush's son will be president and John McCain will be secretary of defense and that "tactical nuclear weapons" will replace "exit strategy" as the military buzzwords of our compassionate conservative regime.

And so, today, you, me and Denny Hastert are left to wonder how it all plays in Peoria. When the juxtaposition of current events goes from compelling, to ironic and then to purely boring, well, have you seen Fox's latest adult oriented cartoon. It was Hal David or maybe someone else who said "What the world needs now is a Republican administration and a rearmed Russia."