In 1999, Sen. Fred Thompson joined legal giants like Sens. Jim Jeffords, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to vote against removing Bill Clinton from office for perjury.
Thompson, whom President Nixon once called "dumb as hell," claimed to have carefully studied the Constitution and determined that perjury by the president of the United States did not constitute "high crimes and misdemeanors." He must have been looking at one of those living, breathing Constitutions we've heard so much about.
When the framers chose the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" for the Constitution, they were using a term taken from British parliamentary impeachments. There's a 600-year history of what this phrase means -- and Clinton met it about a dozen times before he gave a single statement under oath or suborned a single witness's testimony.
It has been used in this country and in Britain to remove one government official for making "uncivil addresses to a women," another for "notorious excesses and debaucheries" and another for "frequenting bawdy houses and consorting with harlots." Or, as Bill Clinton used to call it, "a three-day weekend."
The House didn't even impeach Clinton for his legion of "notorious excesses and debaucheries." He was impeached for excesses that also happen to be felonies. For a nation of laws, there are no more serious offenses than perjury and obstruction of justice.
The entire Supreme Court -- including the justices Clinton appointed -- boycotted Clinton's State of the Union address after his impeachment trial. That's what they thought of crimes that attack the legal system.
Rep. James Rogan lost his congressional seat because he stuck by his principles as a manager of Clinton's impeachment. Lifelong Democrat David Schippers abandoned his party's lockstep defense of Clinton to pursue Clinton's impeachment as the House Judiciary Committee's chief counsel. Rep. Henry Hyde saw an affair he had in 1965 become front-page news because he wouldn't waver from doing his job under the Constitution.
But, as The New York Times recently said, Thompson "agonized over what he saw as two 'bad choices.'"
What bad choices? Punishing a multiple felon or not punishing him? This wasn't exactly a job for King Solomon, pal.
The Times reported that calls from Thompson's Tennessee constituents showed that they "overwhelmingly favored removing President Bill Clinton from office."
So Thompson could either: (1) Follow the Constitution and make his constituents happy or, (2) disregard the Constitution and make his Hollywood friends happy.
Only a handful of Republicans voted against all law and reason to keep Clinton in office, and only one of them was from Tennessee.
This isn't the time to be toying with any Republican who had a Clinton in his sights and ended up shooting himself in the foot.
If you're bored with our top candidates, go see a slasher movie. Don't take it out on a presidential election.
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