The victory in defeat

By Steve Farrell
web posted March 1999

It's been a few weeks now, and one can't help but notice the groundswell of dismay and disgust among conservatives forced to intake a daily news diet which features Bill Clinton still smug and secure atop his iniquitous throne.

Yet, while, frustration and anger are expected givens, there are some less appropriate responses to acquittal arrayed before us which seem improper, unwise, and unmanly. Chief among them: retreat, withdrawal, and despair.

We would do well to avoid such handcuffed and blindfolded thinking.

Holy Writ warns that “despair cometh of iniquity,” and even FDR, had something intelligent to say about fear. Certainly, liberals and socialists have been patient, intelligent, and committed enough to see victory in defeat, to press on in discouragement, and to move forward toward a fixed goal over a course of years, decades, and even centuries

Yet, despite this less than cheerful fact of political life, it is clear that we too have had many steadily pulling the ores against the current - in favor of liberty. If it were not so, we would have washed over the falls into tyranny long ago. But we have not. Could it be, then, that we fail to perceive the triumphs and miracles which surround us despite presumed losses?

How many of us, for instance, believed President Clinton would be impeached at all? Two years ago, nearly every leading conservative scoffed at the idea. Impeachment, to them, was a code-word among fanatics not mainstreamers. Yet, remarkably, despite overwhelming opposition from both parties, the persistent efforts of a determined few uncovered a host of serious problems, generated much public debate, and finally got the battle going hot against the President.

And lo and behold, those unheard of and unheralded underdogs, those previously derided extremists, were leading the charge, grabbing the headlines, and reaching the unreachable dream - of impeachment - the first impeachment of a President in this century.

Hence the felon was hauled before a tribunal, shamed before his fellows, his family, and the world - and despite his acquittal, made to feel the brunt of the dissatisfaction of his countrymen.

That was a miracle, indeed, a gargantuan good that a stubborn and sturdy few could humiliate the most powerful man on earth, and force, finally, some sense of accountability or check upon an edict prone President. But there were other goods too.

*First and foremost, there was a significant segment of our population who cracked open a copy of the Constitution and explored its original intent either for the first time or for the first time in a long time. Amazingly, a broad spectrum of newspaper writers, educators, lawyers, and congressmen joined the citizenry in this oft neglected task

*Second, there were millions of American citizens who read in bold print something their dumbed down state school boards long ago outlawed from the classroom; it is this: “private morality matters.” For side by side with stories of one man's out of control lust and disrespect for women they saw exposed an analogous lust for power and contempt for law.

*Third, for the first time since the days of Richard Nixon, the dangerous ascendancy of executive power in this country was thoroughly explored. Writers and congressmen unabashedly referred to the gathering tyranny proceeding forth from our “Imperial Presidency.” Opened to the public eyes were substantiated and detailed reports of political use by the President of the IRS and the FBI, the frightful and totalitarian expansion of executive police powers, the unconstitutional and concealed use of radical Presidential Directives, the frequent usurpation by the President of Congressional checks on his power, the treasonous reception of bribes by the President from foreign enemy states, the political and self-serving use of war, and the monarchial employment of obstruction of justice, witness harassment, and inequality before the law.

*Fourth, as the battle lines gathered, and opposing camps fired their furious volleys upon each ther, it became quite clear how many teachers, leaders, and opinion molders were willing to wantonly pit themselves against “truth, justice, and the American way.” While we likewise discovered, how many cowards, traitors, sympathizers, and shallow Puritans there were among supposedly ‘friendly' and ‘moral' forces in the ‘conservative' political party. This was, for some, a rude awakening.

*Fifth, this President and future Presidents found out that Congress, and conservative grass roots organizations do have teeth after all, and perhaps they had better tread more lightly in their company rather than brazenly trample all over them.

*Finally, a new and healthy distrust in men and governments has resulted, which can, if we are willing to work for it, be a launching ground for an educational movement which will inspire a majority of Americans to rediscover the difference between license and liberty, democracies and republics, inequality and equality, unlimited and limited power.

And so, here is the victory in defeat - that while clowns and fools did serious injury to morality and the rule of law, millions of other Americans became educated in the dangers of the present and the legacy of our past. President Clinton's acquittal, thus represents both a looming threat to liberty, but also, a lingering opportunity to get the word out.

Who cares then - that the Republican Party leadership has sheepishly retreated back into their mainstream self-serving comfort zone. Our strategy must now be, as it was before, to make that position less and less comfortable, by avoiding retreat and enthusiastically utilizing the deferral of the President's judgment day to reawaken the sleeping Giant of conservatism.

Part 1: Kings v. equality before the law

Steve Farrell is a freelance writer, a Ph.D. candidate in constitutional law, and a former Air Force Communications Security manager. Please email your responses to Mr. Farrell at

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