Oz without the Wizard 

"No matter how cynical you get,
you can’t keep up."

— Lily Tomlin

Consider, for just a moment, the much-ballyhooed and little-watched stupendous and historic impeachment trial now under way before the United States Senate.

Have your attention? So why are you not vomiting? Two centuries down history’s long and winding road, this is the state of our national political leadership. We are in the hands of a gaggle of hypocritical moral pygmies, out of touch, out of sync, with nearly every one of them lying about the motives behind their actions.

Day after day, Democrats rise to defend the president, defend him against removal from office, at any rate. Day after day, the Republican "managers" of the trial crawl forth from the House, stand before the Senate, and earnestly prattle on. One of them, a Florida oaf with a tie, actually seemed to argue that Clinton should be ousted because though he admitted touching Monica Lewinsky, he had not specified how many times, or where.

Not content with sullying the Senate in this way, the GOP seems determined to complete the job by dragging "witnesses" into the chamber. So it will almost certainly come to pass that Monica will be brought forth to tell her dreary story again, so that the world’s greatest deliberative body, and perhaps a nationally televised TV audience, can hear how the President ejaculated in her mouth and on her dress and in the sink.

Can Linda Tripp, a woman not morally fit for a Cass Corridor hooker bar, be far behind? Who will be watching is not clear. Every poll indicates the public had enough long ago. They know all this, and think Clinton is a disappointing sleaze. But they don’t want him ousted. They would prefer to try and slog though the next two years.

Which makes sense. That is, unless you are from Washingtonland, where little that happens in that dreadful backwater called the world can ever penetrate.

Boris Yeltsin is clearly dying, now, even as Russia is fragmenting and falling apart, awash in crime and pollution, without the shadow of a moral compass.

Yet we pay nearly no attention, and won’t, till a loose tactical nuke (they have thousands over there, and not nearly enough food) finds its way to Osama bin Laden, and Allah tells our newest media psycho-Muslim it ought to be detonated at the Super Bowl.

Nevertheless, the trial must go on ... though everyone thinks the result is a foregone conclusion. Everything is party line, and the Republicans need 67 votes to install President Gore. They have only 55. No way, at least today.

Want to know the oddest dirty little secret about all this? The real feelings of both sides are almost exactly opposite to what they pretend. The Democrats in Congress despise Bill Clinton, and would be secretly overjoyed if he were to die of a massive coronary tomorrow. They see him as the man whose inept governance his first two years gave both houses of Congress to the Republicans in 1994.

They know his legacy will be a massive and possibly hopeless cross to bear for any Democratic nominee. They fear that he has scarred the presidency, and the American people’s idea of a Democrat in the presidency, perhaps forever.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are as conflicted. Twenty, perhaps, of their number in the Senate can see nothing except their blinding hatred of the slimeball Clinton, whom they somehow blame for losing Vietnam, long hair and premarital sex.

Those of cooler heads know if he is ousted, the GOP’s troubles will have only just begun. Enter Al Gore, who knows Congress better than Clinton, and inherits a roaring economy, peace, and a nation which thinks their pres was unjustly driven out of office.

Pretty much all we know about Gore is that he is a little stodgy, though a young-appearing 50, and by all accounts not a womanizer. Stodgy might seem appealing just about now. What’s more, we need somebody to stop the flood of sexual McCarthyism ruining the land; he might be just the man. Oh, there is some talk of fast and loose campaign shakedown tactics with some bizarre Chinese and a Buddhist temple.

However, voters mainly yawn. They figure they all do it, and the odds are high that some Asian loot passed into GOP hands as well. As of today, Gore could finish out whatever remains of Clinton’s final years and still be eligible for two more terms. Do Republicans really want 10 years of Albert Gore in the White House? That’s what they risk.

However this all plays out, one thing may have been lost forever, thanks to all, but especially to the man Monica loved to call the "Big Creep." We may have permanently lost a faith in the presidency and the general decency of our government. This was always somewhat of a myth, but it was a useful and inspiring one. Except, perhaps, to Clinton, whose romantic notions of every kind always have been dubious.

What, do you suppose, happened in Oz when the locals learned the wizard was nothing but a man behind a curtain? My guess is that there was some trauma.

Maybe even a little increase in anti-social Munchkin behavior, without something higher to believe in. I also guess that within the next few decades, we too will find out. Best & cheers.

More by Jack Lessenberry

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