Like Dubya, Bubba clove the activist base of his party in two—one side fed up with his selling out of treasured principles (via Welfare Reform, end-of-Big-Government-as-we-know-it, expansion of the Drug War & Death Penalty), the other clinging desperately to the belief that, freed from the messy bounds of winning elections, he would unleash an era of lefty wish-fulfillment (lifting the embargo on Cuba, negotiating the Israeli/Palestinian conflict out of existence, getting back on the health care horse, doing his best Michael Douglas impersonation re: the Drug War). By the end of 1997, however, it was increasingly dawning on progressive Demo-loyalists that there was little there there.
But then Republicans played matchmaker between the faltering prez and his spurned activist base with the Cupid's arrow of impeachment. Suddenly, the discussion was no longer on Rickey Ray Rector, but on the first Black president and Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Leading to the obvious (and crass) political conclusion—maybe the Impeach Bush Movement is the only hope left that Republicans can maintain party loyalty.
Or maybe not. Republicans may have finally disabled the mute button on their squawk-box, but less than 12 months ago you heard bupkus about pork-busting and White House mismanagement from that corner of the ring while 90 percent of 'em were pulling the lever for Bush. Clinton in 1996, by comparison, considered himself lucky to get his 84 percent from Democrats. It was hardly a state secret one month ago that the Gingrich Revolution has long since degenerated into a vote-buying racket.
So I'm happy to see my Republican friends suddenly and unanimously rediscover the words "crony" and "pork," but I'll trust and respect them about as much as I did Democratic loyalists who, for a brief period in 1997-98, suddenly rediscovered their knowledge of (let alone enthusiasm for) the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. And until convinced otherwise, I remain confident that Republican Party discipline is just one juicy Michael Moore fart away.