Notable Quotables - 01/11/1999

A Legislative Coup d'Etat?

"That was the party with the slender majority and two weeks to live that impeached the man because they could. It was a spiteful action, an action that they performed absolutely in violation of the framers intent. It was a legislative coup d'etat, and it has been rejected utterly by the American people, 73 percent of whom now say they approve of the President's performance in office..."
- Geraldo Rivera, with "NBC News" under his name as his identifier, December 22 Today.

"Ladies and gentlemen what I said yesterday, what I say today is the most important thing I have ever said to you. If those leaders do not allow your elected representatives the option of voting on censure or impeachment then they have robbed, they have robbed from you, make no mistake about it. They have used a procedural device to steal from you your right to be democratically represented on the floor of the House of Representatives! They have stolen that from you!"
- Geraldo Rivera, December 9 Rivera Live on CNBC.


Republicans Self-Destruct?

"Frankly, if the Republicans want to go ahead and do this, I think they disgrace themselves in a more profound way than President Clinton has by abusing the machinery of impeachment, knowing full well that the Senate will hold a sham trial and they will be, in effect, delivered of this ridiculous conclusion they've come to."
- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on The McLaughlin Group, December 12.

"I think that the Republicans are going to pay a price for this hard line attitude because Henry Hyde himself said they would never do this along partisan lines, the House would be disgraced if they did it along partisan lines, and that's exactly what they're doing."
- U.S. News contributing editor Steve Roberts on CNN's Late Edition, December 13.

"Don, help me here. After the Republican sweep led by the now resigned Newt Gingrich in 1994, when the Republicans had their peak victory in recent history, President Clinton said that after that, after 1994, that if you left them, the Republicans, alone that they would burn themselves out. Now is or is not what we have now a race sort of between when the Republicans burn themselves out or burn the President up?"
- Dan Rather to former Clinton speechwriter Donald Baer during live CBS News impeachment coverage, December 19.


Traitorous Republicans

"As salvo after salvo of cruise missiles continue to punish Iraq, Republicans in Congress are engaging in conduct that during the war in Vietnam they called giving aid and comfort to the enemy...Although they have backed off from the most inflammatory language of yesterday they are still pressing for impeachment."
- Geraldo Rivera opening the December 17 Upfront Tonight.


Hitting Clinton....from the Left

"But when you propose a hundred billion dollars in additional spending for the Pentagon, even though the Cold War is over with, that is money that could go for education, could go for health care, could go for improving the cities, agriculture, environment. That's money that's now going to go for defense spending. So where is the money going to come from?"
- CNN's Wolf Blitzer to OMB Director Jack Lew, January 3 Late Edition.


We Wanted to Honor Hillary As Our Spurned Spouse of the Year

"It's that person or persons who's affected the news the most, affected our history the most for good or for ill. Had it been an award, had it been somebody we wanted to honor, you know there are a lot of other people from Mark McGwire to Hillary Clinton..."
- Time Managing Editor Walter Isaacson explaining his Men of the Year choice, December 20 Meet the Press.

"For a while...she was our leading contender. Her strength and her almost surreal ability to assert her dignity were remarkable to some and mystifying to others. She also, for many months, helped determine how the nation framed the scandal debate by portraying it as a partisan battle and disgusting prosecutorial invasion of personal privacy. So why didn't we choose her? Sentimentally, a lot of us wanted to; I personally was fascinated and impressed by her."
- Isaacson's "To Our Readers" article, Dec. 28/Jan. 4 Time.


Freudian Slip About Republicans As Extremists?

"Rumpled, charmed, low-key, conciliatory, someone who can get along with both moderates and Republicans, a veteran, a nuts and bolts legislator..."
- ABC's Linda Douglass describing incoming House Speaker Dennis Hastert, December 19 World News Tonight.


Ken Starr: Just Larry Flynt With Subpoena Power

"Adultery as a killer issue will haunt politics for years to come. Now we have Larry Flynt following on the heels of the tabloids, the press and Ken Starr. What's kept Clinton in office is partly the fear of Starr, who's Flynt with subpoena power and a grand jury. People don't want their government going into a person's sex life, no matter how reprehensible. Sticking with marriage is the right thing to do but not because Larry Flynt or the government is waiting to humiliate you if you don't."
- Time reporter Margaret Carlsons "Outrage of the Year," as announced on CNN's Capital Gang on December 26.

"Reverend Falwell, is Mr. Flynt, in effect, doing the work of the Christian Right, here?"
- Good Morning America substitute co-host Cynthia McFadden to Jerry Falwell, December 22.


Stop a Senate Trial

"Didn't I say to you that we are marching off the cliff? Reason tells you we should stop this and get on with the business of governance. But, there is precious little. I mean, I spent most of today and yesterday half on the phone while I was covering this thing, with Senators Republican and Democratic, and at the moment everybody's fondest hope is that the two week hiatus, between now and the new year, in that period impeachment will sink in and sanity will prevail and we'll avoid a trial. But there are a lot of people that don't want that to happen."
- National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg, December 19 Inside Washington.

Co-host Jodi Applegate: "Senator Hutchison, the poll numbers reveal the American people don't want the President removed. His approval ratings are up to 72 percent, Republicans ratings are down. What kind of leverage do Republicans really have given the conventional wisdom, which admittedly has been wrong before, that no way are Republicans ever going to get the 67 votes, what kind of leverage do Republicans have against the President given all that?"
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX): "The Constitution."
- December 20 Today.

"Why are you convinced of that [a speedy trial in the Senate] because many people have been talking about a long, protracted trial taking attention away from the important issues in this country that people really care about?"
- NBC's Today co-host Katie Couric to Senator Mitch McConnell, December 21.


Lauer: Have You No Decency?

"Speaker Wright, let me start with you. When you resigned nine years ago, you had been battered by the right. You called for an end to what you called 'mindless cannibalism.' Nine years later we're hearing terms like that again and others swirling around the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Have we learned nothing in nine years?"
- Matt Lauer to former Speaker Jim Wright, who resigned over ethical problems, December 21 Today.

"Speaker Wright, during McCarthy's sort of communist witch hunt, the really turning point was when one person being grilled by the Senator said ' do you have no decency.' Do you see anybody with the credibility in Washington right now to ask that same question?"
- Lauer to Wright, same show.


Media Should Raise McCarthyism

"This has been called the era when nothing truly matters. Nothing breaks through. It all ends up sounding the same. And when a certain Congressman from Florida said during the debate Saturday, 'have you no sense of decency, sir?', using the same quote as what ended, in a lot of people's minds the McCarthy era, it didn't get through because it wasn't heard because it was at the same volume as everything else."
- MSNBC's Brian Williams, referring to Democrat Robert Wexler, to House Democratic investigative counsel Abbe Lowell, December 21 News with Brian Williams.


Republicans Hate Clinton Because ....He Can Do Two Things at Once

Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist: "One of the things that on listening to this debate that just strikes me, the law and everything else aside, there's something about Clinton that makes the Republicans crazy. What is it?"

Michael Duffy, Time magazine's Washington Bureau Chief: "Yeah, it's true. Part of it I think we saw this week is his ability to do two things at once. I think it really does drive them up a tree. He has this extraordinary compartmentalized ability. This week we saw him on Wednesday go from meetings about impeachment on the Hill to meetings about Iraq to phone calls to Senators about what will happen there if it goes on to the Senate, back to writing his statement about you know. The extraordinary thing about Clinton is he's able to compartmentalize these stories in ways that lot of Americans are not, certainly I'm not. And it's hard for, I think, people to understand how he does his job, how he can do this with all this that's swirling around him."
- December 18 Washington Week in Review on PBS.